Scene Thru The Eye Of A Lens

This Is a Thriller: Site for vintage horror & nuggets series collectors.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

John Cipollina - Free Light up

Pam Tillis, daughter of Country Music legend Mel Tillis, became a Country artist in her own right.

Pam initially freely experimented musically and socially before the inevitable career move to Nashville.

Even these days she picks unusual material such as her cover of the Jackie DeShannon/Searchers hit, "Walk In The Room".

Missed by viewers who never got a chance to see it, the video evoked the days of Bandstand, Shindig & Hullaballoo.


Pam was my girlfriend when she was singing in the Sausalito based jazz-fusion band Freelight, featuring my favorite psychedelic guitar "slinger".

Thanks to Pam I met and shared a few laughs with John Cipollina back stage, at Freelight studio sessions, riding in the band's van and in John's home.

John smoked a lot of grass but he was no slob, you'd never see him in a tie-die t-shirt or any of that.
He always looked sharp.


During the Summer of love John had a day job at the Sausalito Heliport. One day he worked for hours customizing a carton of cigarettes.

He opened the carton of cigarettes, and from each individual pack, he emptied out the tobacco from the cigs without tearing the thin paper,
Then he tamped finely ginched cannabis buds into the paper tubes replacing the tobacco, smoothing the surface to a flawless finish.

When 20 cigs were refilled he put them back in the packs and resealed the packs, and put all the packs back in the carton, and reseal the box.
Then at last John was ready for a break.

He opened the carton, unwrapped a pack, free to light up on the premises!

A job well done by Quicksilver Messenger Service.

Further stories and links on the Sausalito '70s:

The Houseboat Rebellion

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Blogger Justin Kreutzmann said...

Looks cool. I'll have to check this stuff out...I can't help but feeling I know you from somewhere..."it's a feeling I've not had since..."

11:10 PM  
Blogger Tono Rondone said...

Yo dude. been there. in sf. for 17 years. write books. record music. paint paintings. was in a band in sf called frank hymng with fritz fox of the mutants. yeah, quicksilver. Cipollina. I'm Rondone. making movie soon. see you in it, and three of my daughters are in sf. im in vagueguess.

7:13 PM  
Blogger unka kreepy said...


We have mutual friends in the rockumentary world, and share a common interest in the unreleased Jerry Garcia interview footage (1991) when he raved about the good ol' EC comic books.

Your site Rock and Reel is one of the best.

9:07 PM  
Blogger unka kreepy said...

Yo Tono,

Saw you, and The Mutants - remember their parties above the Fun Zone arcade on 3rd St?

Went to your site, good show.

Visit Beat Pop - my other site for more beatnik punk memories.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Tono Rondone said...

Hey Kave,

Yeah, I do remember them parties above the arcade next to the bus terminal. Elliott Shannonhouse of Frank Hymng reacquainted me with you, as I said before. Like to send you a book about SF called POP! Goes the Weasel or a screenplay by the same name. Need to raise money to make the movie. Will check out Beat Pop. Right on, bro'.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Ken Kaffke said...

This is unca creepy, Ken. Do not order any tapes from me. Go out and buy the real dvd set. Sorry I can't figure out how to edit my own blog. Passwords are the bane of internet existence.

4:21 AM  
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10:29 AM  
Blogger WPH-Frisco said...

John and I were good friends until the day he died in 1989. I spent a lot of time with my old pardner the guitar slinger.

You don't mention the other band members in the photo. Jared Washington, the big guy next to John, could "butcher Bach" on a Fender Rhodes like nothing you've heard. He died a few years ago, but outlived my good friend John by nearly 2 decades.

Tim Timmermans on the far right is a killer Jazz drummer and a very talented man in many ways.

When I recorded Freelight in 1977 at Bear West Studios, Mario Cipollina played bass on the session. Their regular bass player's name doesn't come to mind at the moment. Pam was amazing to record, as she nailed every take the first time. She's a rarity and fun to work with.

You will find more photos of Freelight, John and Mario on this album in my Facebook profile:

12:06 PM  

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