THE END OF THE LINE FOR QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE

Well, Quicksilver finally blew it for good. It's now very doubtful that we'll ever get to see them over here; by cancelling their tour at the last minute, they caused a lot of people to lose bread - and no sane promoter is ever going to take the risk on them again.

The agency handling the tour tour had to send out letters of apology to promoters after they were informed, without any reasons being given, that Quicksilver would not be coming after all. It was the second time they'd pulled out at the last minute and left John Sherry Enterprises in the mire... and they'd done it to other agencies too. "One can only assume that they just don't want to come over here", says the agency man "... but the whole thing is beyond a joke; we'll never do any dealings with them again". So, the group has cut its throat.... and with a solid tour at 400 - 600 a gig too.

Not that we missed all that much because of their cancellation... in fact they probably did us a service if their recent albums are anything to go by. Once upon a time, Quicksilver had an aura second only to Love and, like Love, any information was lacking... and this heightened their mystique; whenever San Franciscan rock was discussed, their name was inevitably mentioned with glowing reverence, but interviews were rare and empty and publicity was negligible. When Dino Valente arrived on the scene, however, and proceeded to do a Swarbrick on them, their loyal supporters began to lose their once rampant enthusiasm.

Limp reasons for the cancellation (Dan Hicks thinks their bass player quit a week before they were due to leave and they couldn't get a replacement in time... and others think it was just their inability to pull themselves together (I won't go into details)) hardly explain the apparent tack of sincerity and warmth, or the inconsistency between their image and reality. If Valente is the sincere geezer I hope he is (from songs like 'What About Me?'), I'd dearly love to know why he doesn't show a little more consideration for what's left of his audience... maybe he's too busy making sure that his name appears in increasingly larger print on each album sleeve. I mean, the EMI press office took a great deal of time and effort to try and fix up a telephone interview for me - but they weren't even given the courtesy of a reply to their telex messages and letters. Well, balls to them if they want to shut themselves away like hermits and crank out duller and duller albums - that's up to them... but it's sad to see a once great band disintegrating like that. For most people they crumbled irreparably in 1969 and they're just about dead now, or at least they're in their wheel chair, hurtling downhill fast, with little hope of reclaiming their old glorious reputation.

They took a long time to develop and were about the last big San Fran band to sign a recording contract and then, within a year, they had peaked. When Gary Duncan left at the end of 1968, they might as well have called it quits, and blown apart as champions; then we could go around saying "my god, just think how good Quicksilver would have been if they had stayed together... they were magnificent" instead of the usual "oh my god, why don't they kick Valente out and go back to 'Happy Trails' type stuff?"

When I was able to get to the Fillmore (courtesy of Brinsley Schwarz Airways) I happened to see Gary Duncan hanging around back stage, as I was trying to find Van Morrison's dressing room. "Hey mate", I called to him, "there are 50 million people in England waiting for you lot to come over" - but if he heard me he didn't respond; too busy looking for crumpet, I should imagine.

So, what a drag. They're not coming - either to confirm or confound our preconceptions. But does anybody really care?

Pete Frame

PS. The only reason I wrote all this stuff is that I spent a good few days preparing the family tree you'll find over the page. I was going to tie it in to an interview... but I don't want to throw it away.

ZigZag 26, November 1972


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Last updated: 13-Jun-2005