The Sons Of Champlin were one of the best and most musical of the original San Francisco bands that played the Fillmore and the Avalon from 1966 onwards. Well ahead of their time, they are fondly remembered now, and since the world has finally caught up to them, they continue to perform this very day. This project is an attempt to identify all the performances of The Sons Of Champlin from 1966 to 1969. The previous installment of this series was
Charlie Kelly. Anyone with additional information, insights, corrections or memories (real or imagined) should Comment or email me.
Sons Of Champlin Performance List January-May 1968
By the end of 1967, both Geoff Palmer and his Army buddy, trumpeter Jim Beem, had joined the Sons Of Champlin. At the beginning of 1968, the band's lineup was
- Bill Champlin-Hammond organ, guitar, lead vocals
- Terry Haggerty-lead guitar
- Tim Cain-tenor sax
- Jim Beem-trumpet
- Geoff Palmer-piano, Hammond organ, vibes, baritone sax
- Al Strong-bass
- Bill Bowen-drums
The Poppycock was Palo Alto's pocket sized psychedelic ballroom. Similar to the New Orleans House and The Matrix, it provided a circuit for bands playing original music who could not yet headline at the Avalon or the Fillmore.
January 26-27, 1968: Straight Theater, San Francisco, CA: Sons of Champlin/Mad River/Peace
February 16-17, 1968: Straight Theater, San Francisco, CA: Sons of Champlin/Salvation/All Men Joy/The Circus
February 21, 1968: Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA: Blues Project/Siegel-Schwall/Lee Michaels/Youngbloods/Sons of Champlin/Wildflower
February ?, 1968: [venue], UCSC, Santa Cruz, CA: Sons Of Champlin
Charlie Kelly returned from the Army in early 1968, and he immediately got in touch with his old friends. He recalls tagging along for a February gig in Santa Cruz on the UCSC Campus. The most likely venue would be the Cowell/Stevenson Dining Commons, but I don't know that for certain by any means.
March 8-9, 1968: Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA: Love/Congress of Wonders/Sons Of Champlin
March 10, 1968: Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA: Blue Cheer/Congress Of Wonders/Sons Of Champlin
March 27, 1968: Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA: Jeremy & The Satyrs/Sons Of Champlin/Its A Beautiful Day/Creedence Clearwater Revival KMPX Strike Benefit
March 29-31, 1968: Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA: Jeremy & The Satyrs/Sons Of Champlin/Fourth Way
April 4, 1968: Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA: Eric Burdon & The Animals/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sons of Champlin
April 5-6, 1968: Winterland, San Francisco, CA: Eric Burdon & The Animals/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sons of Champlin
April 10, 1968: Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA: Country Joe and The Fish/Cleveland Wrecking Co/Loading Zone/Mt. Rushmore/Sons of Champlin “Peace and Freedom.”
This Wednesday night Fillmore show was not a Bill Graham Presents show (although obviously the hall was leased from Graham). I believe it was a benefit for The Peace and Freedom party, an anti-war coalition who were competing in the California Presidential Primary in June.
April 11-13, 1968: New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA: Sons of Champlin/Edsel Boogey (12th and 13th).
I believe that Edsel Boogey was the band later known as Boogie, who rehearsed in the Sausalito Heliport near the Sons. They featured guitarist Barry Bastian, bassist John Barrett and drummer John "Fuzzy" Oxendine, and possibly other players.
“Time Again to Save The Straight Theater”
The Straight Theater, at 1702 Haight Street (at Cole), in the heart of the Haight Ashbury, was a hippie enterprise through and through, but continual struggles to get open in 1966 and '67 had caused them to miss the boom time of local rock concerts. As a result the venue was continually in dire straits. This ironically titled event was another benefit by local bands who were trying to keep one of their favorite places afloat.
April 26-28, 1968: Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA: Steve Miller Band/James and Bobby Purify/Sons of Champlin
At this time, the Carousel Ballroom was managed by the Grateful Dead organization. It, too, was a fun place to play that was struggling financially. Tapes of Steve Miller’s sets survive, although not of the Sons. Apparently, the Sons jammed a little blues with Miller on the first night (the poster is up top).
May 3-4, 1968: Straight Theater, San Francisco, CA: Sons of Champlin/Country Weather
This was a benefit for the Peace and Freedom Party and the Dick Gregory for President Committee (Gregory was the Peace and Freedom candidate).
May 18, 1968: Family Park, Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, San Jose, CA: Northern California Folk-Rock Festival
Jefferson Airplane/Big Brother and The Holding Company/Grateful Dead/Steve Miller Band/Youngbloods/People/Sons of Champlin/Crome Syrcus/Transatlantic Railroad/Indian Head Band/Mourning Reign.
This was the first day of a two-day festival. The Sons performed, one of a number of groups not on the poster. The back of the ticket has the Sons scheduled for Saturday May 18, for a 30-minute set after Crome Syrcus (from Seattle) and before People (from San Jose). They would have gone back up Highway 101 to play their show at the Avalon that night.
Charlie Kelly, still just hanging out with his friends, joined the Sons at the show, and helped out by moving the truck and performing some other tasks. At this point, he wasn't on the crew, just a friend. At this time, the Sons had two road crew members, but one of them didn't drive. Nonetheless, the Sons set out on a brief road trip to Southern California, and the difficulties of having only one crew member who could drive became paramount.
May 24-25, 1968: The Kaleidoscope, Hollywood, CA: Them/Incredible String Band/Sons of Champlin
The Kaleidoscope was a new rock venue on Hollywood, the former Earl Carroll Theater (at 6230 Sunset near Vine), built in the 1930s. At various times it had housed the TV show Queen For A Day and the rock club Hullabaloo. Canned Heat's management had taken over the venue, and were trying to turn it into a Los Angeles version of the Fillmore.
Van Morrison had left Them two years earlier. Some of the current members had been in Them with Van, however, and they did much of the classic Them material.
May 31-June 1, 1968: Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: The Yardbirds/B.B. King/Sons of Champlin
The Shrine Exposition Hall, at 700 W. 32nd St (at Figueroa), was a large open space used for trade shows, not the theater around the corner at 665 West Jefferson st, which is used for the Academy Awards (and is part of the same complex). This Pinnacle Concerts presentation was one of the last American appearances Jimmy Page and The Yardbirds, as the band broke up in July. I believe some bootleg recordings exist of the Yardbirds performances from at least one night.
There must be quite a number of shows from this period, but these are all I have been able to confirm. June to December 1968 will be forthcoming shortly.