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August 24, 1943|
Berkeley, California, U.S.
|Died||May 29, 1989
San Francisco, California, United States
|Genres||Rock, psychedelic rock|
|Labels||Capitol, Line Records, Music Box Records|
|Associated acts||Quicksilver Messenger Service, Copperhead, Gary Phillips, The Dinosaurs, Man|
John Cipollina (August 24, 1943 – May 29, 1989) was a guitarist best known for his role as a founder and the lead guitarist of the prominent San Francisco rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service. After leaving Quicksilver he formed the band Copperhead, was a member of the San Francisco All Stars and later played with numerous other bands.
- 1 Early years
- 2 Equipment and technique
- 3 Career After Quicksilver Messenger Service
- 4 Death
- 5 Discography
- 6 Videos
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Born in Berkeley, California in 1943, Cipollina attended Tamalpais High School, in Mill Valley, California (as did his brother, Mario, born 1954) and sister, Antonia (born 1952). Their father, Gino, was a realtor, and their mother, Evelyn, and godfather José Iturbi, were concert pianists.
Equipment and technique
"I like the rapid punch of solid-state for the bottom, and the rodent-gnawing distortion of the tubes on top."
To create his distinctive guitar sound, Cipollina developed a one-of-a-kind amplifier stack. His Gibson SG guitars had two pickups, one for bass and one for treble. The bass pickup fed into two Standel bass amps on the bottom of the stack, each equipped with two 15-inch speakers. The treble pickups fed two Fender amps: a Fender Twin Reverb and a Fender Dual Showman that drove six Wurlitzer horns.
Career After Quicksilver Messenger Service
After leaving Quicksilver, Cipollina formed the band Copperhead with early Quicksilver member Jim Murray (musician) (who was soon to leave for Maui, Hawaii), former Stained Glass member Jim McPherson, drummer David Weber, Gary Phillipet (AKA Gary Phillips (keyboardist), later a member of Bay Area bands Earthquake and The Greg Kihn Band), and Pete Sears. Sears was shortly thereafter replaced by current Bonnie Raitt bassist James "Hutch" Hutchinson who played on the Copperhead LP and stayed with the band for its duration. Sears went on to play with the original Jefferson Starship and later Hot Tuna.
Experience with Man
In 1975, the Welsh psychedelic band Man toured the United States, towards the end of which, they played two gigs at the San Francisco Winterland (March 21 and 22), which were such a success that promoter Bill Graham paid them a bonus and rebooked them. While waiting for the additional gigs, the band met and rehearsed with Cipollina, who played with them at Winterland in April 1975. After this, Cipollina agreed to play a UK tour which took place in May 1975, during which their "Roundhouse gig" was recorded.
Rumors that Micky Jones had to over-dub Cipollina’s parts, as his guitar was out of tune, before their Maximum Darkness album could be released are exaggerated; only one track, "Bananas", was to have his track replaced, per Deke Leonard. "Everything ... which sounds like Cipollina is Cipollina."
The album eventually reached #25 in the UK album charts.
Cipollina died on 29 May 1989 at the age of 45 after a career in music that spanned twenty five years. His cause of death was alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which he suffered from most of his life, and which is exacerbated by smoking.
Quicksilver Messenger Service fans paid tribute to him the following month in San Francisco at an all-star concert at the Fillmore Auditorium which featured Nicky Hopkins, Pete Sears, David Freiberg, and John's brother Mario, an original member of Huey Lewis and the News. Cipollina's one of a kind massive amplifier stack was donated, along with one of his customized Gibson SG guitars, and effects pedals, for display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 1995.
With Quicksilver Messenger Service
RAVEN 1. Rock & Roll Nurse 2. True Golden Touch 3. Do What You Do 4. Unvicious Circle 5. True Reward 6. Grass Is Always Greener 7. Clouds 8. All Worth The price 9. Ride (Highway Song) 10. Burning Corte Madera 11. The Truth 12. Bad News 13. Razor Blade4 & Rattlesnake 14. Prayers 
Maximum Darkness LP (1975) United Artists: CD (1991) BGO CD 43: CD Re-mix (2008) Esoteric ECLEC 2061 Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Martin Ace, Terry Williams, John Cipollina Recorded at The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, 26 May 1975
- Dr. Fankhauser
- 1980: Blue Star (Line Records)
- 1982: Monkey Medicine "The Nick Gravenites John Cipollina Band" (Line Records)
- 1991: Live At Rodon "Nick Gravenites and John Cipollina" (Music Box)
- 1972: Papa John Creach: Papa John's Friends (Grunt Records)
Terry and the Pirates
- 1979 Too Close For Comfort (Wild Bunch)
- 1980 Doubtful Handshake (Line Records)
- 1981 Wind Dancer (Rag Baby, Line Records)
- 1982 Rising of the Moon (Rag Baby, Line Records)
- 1987 Acoustic Rangers (Sawdust Records)
- 1990 Silverado Trail (Big Beat Records)
- Here Goes Nothin, Go Hear Nothin (Live)
With other artists
- Leonard, Deke (2012). The Twang Dynasty. Bordon, Hants: Northdown Publishing. pp. 263–75. ISBN 978-1-900711-18-0.
- Official website/rock. "John Cipollina". Memorial Website. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- Sievert, Jon (January–February 1973). "John Cippolina, interview". Guitar Player.
- Buckley, Jonathan; Ellingham, Mark (1996). Rock: The Rough Guide - Man ((1st ed.) ed.). London: Rough Guides Ltd. pp. 539–40. ISBN 1-85828-201-2.
- "Micky Jones tribute by Phil McMullen". www.terrascope.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-09-26.
- "Chart Stats for Man Albums". Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
- John Cipollina at Find a Grave
- Arcadia Label, 2006
- See the album webpage at Discogs.
- JohnCipollina.com - Memorial website
- John Cipollina MySpace
- Bay-Area-Bands.com - 'John Cipollina: The Life And Death Of San Francisco's Most Prolific Guitarist', William Ruhlmann
- allmusic.com - All-Music Guide Entry
- John Cipollina collection at the Internet Archive's live music archive
- John Cipollina on IMDb