Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Sons Of Champlin Performance List July 1969-February 1970 (Sons V)

(a scan of the poster for The Sons Of Champlin at Springers Ballroom in Oregon, on July 4, 1969. h/t Ross for the scan)

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 installments of this series were

This post will look at the Sons Of Champlin's known performances from January through June 1969. Thanks to various people who have helped with this project over the years, including Ross and the old Yahoo Sons discussion group, but most particularly Sons road manager Charlie Kelly. Anyone with additional information, insights, corrections or memories (real or imagined) should Comment or email me.

Sons Of Champlin Performance List July 1969-February 1970
In mid-1969, The Sons Of Champlin were a six-piece band. The lineup was
  • Bill Champlin-Hammond organ, guitar, lead vocals
  • Terry Haggerty-lead guitar
  • Tim Cain-tenor sax
  • Geoff Palmer-piano, Hammond organ, vibes, baritone sax
  • Al Strong-bass
  • Bill Bowen-drums
In late 1968 and early 1969 the Sons Of Champlin had recorded Loosen Up Naturally for Capitol Records, their first album.  Chief roadie Charlie Kelly said that the double-lp represented their live set at the time (often augmented by a few covers).  The album was released in the Spring of 1969, probably about May. Throughout the balance of 1969, The Sons regularly played many smaller venues in the Bay Area, and I have only captured a portion of those dates. I have to assume the Sons worked almost every weekend, or at least tried to, plus numerous weekday shows. Anyone with additional information, corrections, updates or recovered memories (real or imagined) should email me or Comment.

July 4, 1969: Springer’s Ballroom, Gresham, OR: Sons Of Champlin/Portland Zoo/Total Eclipse
Springer's Ballroom was an old resort in suburban Portland that was briefly a rock and roll ballroom.

July 6, 1969: Bullfrog Music Festival, near Estacada (Clackamas County), OR: Jefferson Airplane/Sons Of Champlin/Ace of Cups/Portland Electric Zoo Band/Family Tree/Mixed Blood/other local bands
This was a 3-day festival held outside Oregon City (about 20 miles south of Portland) on private land at Bullfrog Lake Trailer Park. Charlie Kelly recalls that Grace Slick dressed in a Girl Scout uniform, and the Airplane started their show with three quick fireworks blasts and hit the downbeat on the four, electrifying the crowd.

Summer 69: Andrews Park, Vacaville, CA: Sons Of Champlin
This show was presented by The Sun Company, a group pf high school kids that produced local shows. Steven Bise of the Sun Company recalls that they had "a cool little Quonset hut (a former Boys Club) that we turned into a dance hall (complete with pretty decent light shows).  Not bad for a bunch of small town kids.  I remember being thrilled that we had the Loading Zone in town {on Aug 2, 69} (Sons Of Champlin, Mad River and others also played) that summer.   It was a big deal to us!"

July 12, 1969: Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Nick Gravenites/Brothers/Linn County  Benefit for the 13th Tribe

week of July 13-18, 1969:
Various gigs, Seattle area, possibly at the Eagles Auditorium.  Charlie Kelly describes a road trip from Oregon to Seattle to Colorado and Utah.

July 19, 1969:  unkown venue, Salt Lake City, UT:  Sons Of Champlin
Described in Charlie Kelly’s website. An old stone structure outside of town.  The date is approximate, but Kelly remembers being in Salt Lake City when astronauts landed on the moon.

July 20, 1969:  Folsom Field, U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO: The Byrds/Steve Miller Band/Buddy Guy/Sons Of Champlin
This leg was described in Charlie Kelly’s website.  The dates are approximate, but they fit The Byrds touring schedule (the Byrds were in NYC on July 13 and the Pacific Northwest on July 26-27).

In late July, The Sons were in Hollywood recording their second album.

July 27, 1969: Balboa Stadium, San Diego, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Sons Of Champlin/Ten Years After/Congress of Wonders

July 28, 1969: Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Sons Of Champlin/Ace Of Cups
A Monday afternoon free concert.  The LA Police attended, in full riot gear.

August 1-3, 1969:  Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Everly Brothers/Sons Of Champlin/Frumious Bandersnatch
Baby Huey and The Babysitters canceled (replaced by Frumious), because Baby Huey died.

August 7, 1969: Santa Venetia Armory, San Rafael, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Tamalpais Jungle Mountain Boys/Free and Easy

August 8-9, 1969: New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA:  Sons Of Champlin/South Bay Experimental Flash

August 10, 1969: Rio Theater, Rodeo, CA: Sons Of Champlin/South Bay Experimental Flash

August 16, 1969; Gym, Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Country Weather/Catharsis
For a brief period around the Summer of 1969, the Millard Agency (the talent booking wing of Bill Graham) helped set up a series of concerts in the Monterey area with San Francisco bands. There were some fine shows, but it didn't extend much beyond this Summer.

August 17, 1969:  Frost Amphitheatre, Stanford U., Palo Alto, CA: Benefit for MPFU
Sons Of Champlin/Country Weather/Cold Blood/Fritz/Old Davis/Sunbear/Congress of Wonders
The Midpeninsula Free University (known locally as "MFU" or "Free You") was a South Bay attempt to shake up higher education, and it succeeded in certain ways. For a few years in Palo Alto, they held a series of free concerts at El Camino Park, and later, after much distress from the City of Palo Alto, moved their events to Stanford University's Frost Amphitheater.

August 20, 1969: Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Sons Of Champlin

August 21, 1969:  California Ballroom, Modesto, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Daybreak/[unreadable]
The California Ballroom was a small venue in the sleepy farming town of Modesto. It held 500 to 800 people.  It is still extant, and is located at 6th and E Street.  An eyewitness reported in an email:

just a comment..........i don't have the date but it had to be 69, maybe
70', because i came from vietnam in may of 69.  while spending some
time with my parents who had moved from santa cruz to modesto,
i did see the sons play at the california ballroom in modesto.  i have
no idea who was on the bill with them..........but i do remember the local
police stopped the show when the sons were on stage.

~laughing to myself...........i can remember the local police, undercover
had wigs on.........turn the lights on..........had all the exits locked 
for the front door and for whatever reason made everyone file out the front
August 23, 1969: Family Dog at The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sons Of Champlin with Jimmy Witherspoon/Anonymous Artists of America/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
This was A Wild West “makeup” gig. According to Ralph Gleason, the Sons backed Jimmy Witherspoon for “Stormy Monday,” presumably among other tunes.

August 24, 1969: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Country Joe and The Fish/It’s a Beautiful Day/Sons Of Champlin
Another Wild West makeup gig.

August 27, 1969: College of Marin, Kentfield, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Loading Zone/Phoenix/Freedom Highway/Circus/Clover  SDS Legal Defense Fund Benefit
Possibly August 26.

August 28, 1969: The Armory, Eugene, OR: Sons Of Champlin/Searchin’ Soul Blues Band

August 30, 1969: Second Sky River Rock Festival Rainier Hereford Ranch, near Tenino, WA (south of Olympia)
Anonymous Artists of America/Black Snake/Blue Bird/Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle     Band/Collectors/Congress of Wonders/James Cotton/Country Weather/Country Joe and The Fish/Crome Syrcus/Crow/Dovetail/Floating Bridge/Flying Burrito Brothers/Frumious     Bandersnatch/Grapefruit/Guitar Shorty/Buddy Guy/Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks/Dr. Humbead’s New Tranquility String Band/Juggernaut/Kaleidoscope/Los Flamencos de Santa Lucia/Fred McDowell/Steve Miller/New Lost City Ramblers/Pacific Gas and Electric/Peter/Terry Reid/Mike Russo/Sons Of Champlin/Rhythm Dukes/Mark Spoelstra/Alice Stuart/Yellowstone/ Youngbloods/Dino Valenti/Elyse Weinberg

September 7, 1969: Folsom Field, U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO: Country Joe and The Fish/Steve Miller Band/Tim Hardin/Buddy Guy/Sons Of Champlin/Conal Implosion

September 12-14, 1969:  Family Dog at The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: It’s A Beautiful Day/Sons Of Champlin/Fourth Way

September 20, 1969: Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey, CA: Little Esther Phillips w/Bobby Bryant and The Soul Festival All-Stars/Roberta Flack/Sons Of Champlin/Lighthouse
Reviewed in the September 22, 1968 San Mateo Times by Jack Russell. Willie “The Lion” Smith was unable to make the afternoon “Blues” program, and according to Russell, the Sons performed admirably in his place.

September 21, 1969:  Benson Cafeteria, University of Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Ace of Cups/Freedom Highway

September 24, 1969: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: It’s A Beautiful Day/Sanpaku/Sons Of Champlin/Ace of Cups/The Outlaws (Dino Valenti and Garry Duncan)/Terry Dolan  
Bay Area Drug Committee Presents At Bill Graham’s Fillmore West A Benefit Show Save The Children
The only  Outlaws (Duncan and Valenti) show.

September 25, 1969: Peterson Gym, San Diego State College, San Diego, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Kaleidoscope

October 4, 1969:  Lake Amador, Plumas County, CA:  ‘Gold Rush’  Santana/Taj Mahal/Bo Diddley/Albert Collins/Kaleidoscope/Al Wilson/Southwind/Ike and Tina Turner/Sons Of Champlin/John Fahey/Cold Blood/Linn County/Daybreak

>October 5, 1969:  Houston Coliseum, Houston, TX: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Hot Tuna/Sons Of Champlin
The Sons were advertised, but did not perform at this show.

October 7-8, 1969:  Mandrake’s, Berkeley, CA: Sons Of Champlin
Mandrake’s, at 1048 University (and 10th Street, near San Pablo Avenue), was mainly a blues club, although rock bands played there as well. Berkeley’s Joy of Cooking got their start holding down a regular weeknight gig throughout the Spring of ’69.

October 9, 1969: Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Sanpaku

October 10-12, 1969:  Family Dog at The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA:  A.B. Skhy Blues Band/The Sons/Brewer and Shipley

October 12, 1969: Applegate Park, Merced, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Crazy Horse/Cloud/Ruben Gomez Rhythm Band (free noon concert)
The San Joaquin Valley farm town of Merced had its own mini-Woodstock, featuring the Sons. Merced was prosperous, and only a few hours from San Francisco, but in some senses it was worlds away. Crazy Horse was not Neil Young's backing band but a local group (as were the other groups).

October 14-16, 1969: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Mendelbaum

October 17, 1969: Legion Hall, Merced, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Crazy Horse/Cloud

October 24-26, 1969: Winterland, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane/Sons Of Champlin/Doug Kershaw
A board tape from October 24 circulates. Bill Champlin mentions from the stage that the Sons new album was being released the next week. John Leones appears to have played tenor sax with the group at this show; he had been a member of the Opposite Six with Bill Champlin in 1965. I do not know if he was a regular guest or if this was a one-off appearance.

In November, 1969, Capitol released the second Sons Of Champlin album The Sons (SKAO 332 Nov 69).  It ostensibly reached #171 on the Billboard lp charts.  On the back cover, it says “The Sons Of Champlin have changed their name to The Sons,” but in actuality that was far from a pre-determined fact.

Also in November, 1969, The Sons set out on an eight week national tour.  They persuaded Bill Graham to co-sign a loan for a truck, which they beat to death on their tour.  However, I know few details of their tour schedule besides its mileage (8,000, according to Charlie Kelly). The dates at Fillmores East and Winterland presumably ended the tour. What I have been able to piece together is below.

November 1, 1969: Civic Center, Santa Monica, CA: Youngbloods/Sons Of Champlin
Date approximated from an eyewitness account.

November 11-12, 1969:  East Town Theater, Detroit, MI: Jefferson Airplane/The Sons/King Crimson
This gig is very hard to confirm, and I had thought it was canceled. However, in the Comments, Bruno tells us he asked Tim Cain about this, and Cain said
"Bill Bowen and Geoff Palmer got arrested for marijuana by the Detroit Police in our hotel the day before this concert. Bill Champlin had to play drums all night and sing at the same time. Bowen and Palmer were later found to be not guilty - we think the police planted some false evidence when they could not find any pot in our rooms. When they searched our rooms they took our touring money for evidence and never gave it back".
Charlie Kelly confirmed the story about the Detroit police, and since the Sons had ended up lighter in the wallet by several thousand dollars, it meant they could no longer afford hotels.

November 14-15, 1969: The Palladium, Birmingham, MI: The Jagged Edge/The Sons/Promise

November 21-22, 1969: Ludlow's Garage, Cincinatti, OH Lemon Pipers/Ricky Nelson/Sons Of Champlin
A commenter vividly recalls a Sons performance at Ludlow's Garage, Cincinatti's stop on "the Fillmore Circuit" (thanks to Bruno for the dates).

November 28-29, 1969: Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA: The Sons/Jacobs Creek

November 30, 1969: Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA: Jethro Tull/Sons Of Champlin
Although some timelines list this show as having been at The Spectrum, the great site TourArchive confirmed to me that the Philadelphia Flyers had a game that night, so the event was at the Electric Factory instead. Charlie Kelly remembers being billed at the Electric Factory with Jethro Tull, so that is additional confirmation.

December ?, 1969: The Hedges, West Hartford, CT: Sons Of Champlin
A fan posting on the Sons Of Champlin site recalls paying $5 as a High School Junior to see the Sons play a VFW-type hall (with no chairs).

December 8-9, 1969: Boston Tea Party, Boston, MA: Jethro Tull/The Sons Of Champlin
This is an inferred date, but likely.  In a New Musical Express article about Jethro Tull’s American tour, writer Nick Logan refers to Tull bassist Glenn Cornick going to back to the Tea Party for an afternoon jam with The Sons Of Champlin.  I inferred from that remark that the Sons opened these shows at the Tea Party.

Charlie Kelly commented, ”We did the Electric Factory in Philly with Tull.  They were in Boston at the same time, for sure, and one afternoon the bass player and I walked all over Boston together, so maybe we were on the same bill.  I remember seeing Johnny Winter at the Tea Party, but I don't think the Sons were on that show” (private email).

As these shows were on a Monday and a Tuesday (Tull was rapidly becoming huge in America, and could fill up a club on a weeknight), the Sons must have played somewhere in the Northeast on the weekend of December 5-6 (possibly Boston). According to Charlie Kelly, due to their lack of money, the band ended up staying at the Tea Party for several days.

December 17-18, 1969: Ungano's, New York, NY: Terry Reid/The Sons
Ungano's was a club in the West 70s, a showcase and hangout for record companies based in Midtown. The club worked cooperatively with the Fillmore East, so it's not surprising that the band played Ungano's right before their weekend at the Fillmore East(for more about Ungano's, see here).

Terry Reid was a fine English singer and guitarist, so highly touted for stardom that he turned down Jimmy Page's offer to join Led Zeppelin, recommending the unknown Robert Plant instead (h/t Its All The Streets You Crossed blog for the Ungano's ad).

December 19-20, 1969: Fillmore East, New York, NY: The Byrds/The Nice/Sons Of Champlin/Dion (Dion late shows only)

December 31, 1969: Winterland, San Francisco, CA:  Jefferson Airplane/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sons Of Champlin/Hot Tuna

In 1970 The Sons Of Champlin fell into disarray.  Although still signed to Capitol, they would effectively break up by March, 1970.

January 10, 1970: Convention Hall, Community Concourse, San Diego, CA: Grateful Dead/The Sons/Aum
According to eyewitnesses, The Sons were a last second replacement for Savoy Brown, who appeared on the poster.  The Sons ran overtime on their set (according to Charlie Kelly), ending with Bobby Blue Bland’s classic “Turn On Your Lovelight”, already a Grateful Dead concert staple.  As the promoter and the Dead were getting irritated, the promoter started lowering the hydraulic stage to indicate to them that it was time to go.

January 17, 1970: Freeborn Hall, UC Davis, Davis, CA: It’s A Beautiful Day/Sons Of Champlin/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen

February 12-15, 1970: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Country Joe and The Fish/Sons Of Champlin/Area Code 615
Area Code 615 was a band of veteran Nashville session-man (led by guitarist Wayne Moss) who had put out a few rock albums.  This weekend was the only live performance of the group, all of whose members were well-paid Nashville session musicians.

February 20, 1970: Community Theater, Berkeley , CA: Youngbloods/The Sons/Lamb
Ralph Gleason's Chronicle column of February 18, 1970 was headlined "Sons Of Champlin In Farewell Shows" (left). The relevant parts said

 The Sons of Champlin, who made their farewell appearance last week, prior to taking a sabbatical from playing, are giving two more farewell appearances this weekend...
The Sons are tired of the road--they just did a tour--and say they are going to take a long vacation after these next couple of dates. Saturday [Feb 21] they play the Contra Costa Fairgrounds in Antioch with Aum and Joy Of Cooking, and there are some other out of town dates later in the month. Then they take five months off.
Bill Champlin, however, will probably work with the Rhythm Dukes. He has been rehearsing with them frequently and they are planning on having him with them in Marin. The Rhythm Dukes is the surviving group of Moby Grape. It has Jerry Miller on guitar and vocals and John Oxantine on drums [sic-Oxendine] (he once played with The Sons) and John Barrett (formerly with Boogie) on bass.
The circumstances of the Sons 'hiatus' has remained obscure over the years. Certainly the group had worked very hard for little reward over the previous years, and their must have been frustration over management, the record company and other issues. Supposedly there was some concern on the part of the band that they were trapped. Unlike many groups at the time, however, The Sons seemed to have made some effort to plan their dissolution, for whatever good it may have done them.

February 21, 1970: Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, Antioch, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Aum/Joy of Cooking
Whatever brave face may have been presented to Ralph Gleason the week before, this February 21 show in Antioch was the last performance of the initial iteration of The Sons Of Champlin. The Sons Of Champlin still owed an album to Capitol Records, although Capitol was uninterested, and thus Bill Champlin and Geoff Palmer led a recording effort that resulted in Follow Your Heart (Capitol ST 675 Apr 71).  Although the Sons were nominally Haggerty/Palmer/Champlin/Bowen/Strong, the entire group was probably never in the studio at the same time, Indeed, Palmer and Champlin overdubbed many instruments, including bass and drums, which effectively pushed Bill Bowen and Al Strong away from the band.

Aftermath: Spring and Summer 1970
Bill Champlin indeed joined the group called The Rhythm Dukes, whowere  based in Santa Cruz.  The Rhythm Dukes, originally based in Marin, had been playing since late 1969. They had done one tour of the Midwest and Northwest (in late Summer or early Fall), where for at least some gigs promoters billed them as Moby Grape without prior knowledge of the group. By the end of 1969, Rhythm Dukes gigs were apparently mostly in Santa Cruz County, as Jerry Miller lived in Boulder Creek. Champlin was a member of The Rhythm Dukes throughout the Spring and early Summer, but after his foray into Santa Cruz he returned to Marin (as a footnote, The Rhythm Dukes with Champlin were billed on February 20-21, 1970 at The Family Dog, which conflicts with the "Farewell" Sons shows, but in fact the Dukes were replaced by Cat Mother--for Champlin's known dates with the Rhythm Dukes, see here).

Sometime around 1970, the Sons privately released an LP of rehearsals called Minus Seeds And Stems.  The material and sound suggest a 1969 or 1970 recordings, but I am not certain of the exact dates. Supposedly the record was recorded at Sons rehearsal hall, ‘The Church’ (1405 San Anselmo Avenue, San Anselmo). For all their poor career decisions, the Sons were consistently ahead of their time, and a privately released DIY album was about 5 years too early.

Concurrently with this activity, various former members of The Sons and various other groups were playing The Lion’s Share in San Anselmo on Sunday nights as Nu Boogaloo Express.  Bill Champlin returned from Santa Cruz after a few months (the Rhythm Dukes continued without him) and started to work with Nu Boogaloo Express, alternating vocal and keyboard chores with Mike Finnegan.  Other ‘members’ of the group included Haggerty, Geoff Palmer, Dave Shallock, Big Brother drummer Dave Getz and ex-Morning Glory guitarist Danny Nudalman, as well as any friends who wanted to sit in. Generally speaking, the Nu Boogaloo Express was whichever musicians were available backing either Finnegan (who generally sang blues) or Champlin (who generally led a jazzier jam session). Conveniently, the soundman at The Lion's Share was Charlie Kelly.

As an outgrowth of The Nu Boogaloo Express, a loose group formed called Yogi Phlegm
  • Terry Haggerty-lead guitar
  • Bill Champlin-organ, guitar, vocals
  • Geoff Palmer-piano, organ, vibes
  • Dave Schallock-bass
  • Bill Vitt-drums
After starting to get their sound together at The Lion's Share, the band started getting bookings around San Francisco and California. Initially the three former Sons were attempting to distance their sound from the heavily arranged Sons Of Champlin style to a looser fusion jazz style, and in any case they weren’t certain if they had the rights to the name Sons Of Champlin.  However, at most venues they were advertised as ‘Yogi Phlegm-formerly The Sons’ so it hardly mattered. 

Subsequently, Yogi Phlegm morphed back into The Sons Of Champlin and continued on until August 6, 1977 (after which they broke up, reformed, broke up and reformed again—but that’s another story).