IN MEMORY OF CHET HELMS 1942-2005

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IN MEMORY OF CHET HELMS 1942-2005

Postby Do A Line on Sat Jun 25, 2005 5:06 am

BY DON ATERS

He came to San Francisco in the early sixties with nothing more than a pocketful of dreams, an affinity for civil rights and personal conflict with the war in Vietnam and useless death of his peers, along with a scraggly, pocked face teenager by the name of Janis Lynn Joplin. He took over the notorious family Dog Promotions and began putting on shows at the legendary Avalon Ballroom on Sutter & Van Ness. Early ventures were with Fillmore mogul Bill Graham but that tandem would dissipate and the two entities would forever be etched in the annals of The Counter Culture and Hippiedom during the apex of Flower Power nad the rise of psychedelia into mainstream rock n roll.
Along the way he would book such iconic figures as Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Sweetwater, Taj Mahal, The Youngbloods, Quicksilver messenger Service and also manage Big Brother & The Holding Company.........Always the consumate activist, he explored various ways to unite the masses and bring awareness to the community.
He once told me the only difference between he and Bill graham was that he was still breathing. Actually, the difference was Bill did it for the money and recognition and Chet did it for the love of music and those within the parameters of the genre. Case in point, the 1967 Summer Of Love Festival and it's resurgence ans an annual event in the city that has brought back such noted bands as Arthur Lee & Love, It's A Beautiful Day, Joli Valenti & Quicksilver Gold, etc.
Last year at my showing at The Speed Museum in Louisville he gladly flew from the bay area to attend along with Tom Constanten and signed autographs, had his image taken nad just was typical Chet Helms amidst a crowd of fans both new and old who were cognizzant of his contributions to contemporary music. We were to begin a series of lectures beginning on July 23rd in louisville and he was looking forward to reuniting with his newer friends from the area but the stroke ended all that was to be. It is now up to me to perpetuate the legacy he has left behind, i.e., letter to The Hall of Fame and Jim Henke, to make sure that his work with The Family Dog, commissioned posters of the day, his life and times will not become just fodder for music trivia.
It's been a long night as I awaited the call from our friend Anthony but...in my own life with death around every corner since i was a kid, I knew it was coming.....We spoke about the perpetuation of his life last month when I was at his house and i will do what I said butit's not his impact that i will miss...I already know all of that, i was there.
He was my friend & I love him...... how do you replace a void of such a legendary figure who couldn't afford a coat to wear to showings of his art last year but gladly accepted to handmade leather coats for seasonal wear from Leatherhead in Louisville. I drove him to a variety of doctors last month and all seemed well but..not to be nad his loss will resonate through the ages as time goes by......
Arena rock and corporate rock, i.e., Clear Channel have all but destroyed the cult followings of hallowed halls like The Fillmore Auditorium, The Matrix, The Ark, The Avalon Ballroom but it is now on us to see that his name resounds loudly through the ages...
There is a tune on the new Robert Plant CD that seems fitting for this gloomy day in my life..."They Will Be Dancing In Heaven".....
Marilyn and I have been talking about when she calls him.....such a funny guy.....the world is a lesser place now that he is gone and I miss him......To others I am close to, i.e., Ray, Ethel, Paul S, Joe, Carl....Betsy......I will be leaving in a day or so for this funeral ..will call when i arrive...in the interim, weep not for his passing..the doctor ask him if he wished to be on a life support and one finger for yes and two for no...Although speech was a non factor he was aware of the impending situation. He was a story teller, and without a voice to resonate the past..he was ready to depart.....
For those who scorned him when the chance was there to meet and appreciate his contributions to society...shame on you.....for others, rejoice in the fact that you had the chance as there will never be another like him on this planet...
Cheers
Don
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Postby Whenheco on Sat Jun 25, 2005 6:29 am

R.I.P. :cry:

Never met him ofcource, but its said to loose someone who did so much for the comunity.
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Postby Cozmosis on Sat Jun 25, 2005 7:33 am

Mr. Helms was of course one of those mythical figures, like a Bill Graham, and whose input and contributions will be sorely missed in the generations to come.........
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Postby JPPMcStepBBlues on Sat Jun 25, 2005 11:43 am

sad thing to happen, he was really an important figure in the San Francisco music scene, that article is a very good one about him.
If you were a cloud and you sailed up there,
You sail on water as blue as air;
You'd see me here in the fields and say,
"Doesn't the sky look green today?"
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Postby VoodooChile in Wonderland on Tue Jun 28, 2005 9:37 am

RIP Chet, we're gonna miss you
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Postby Guest on Wed Jul 06, 2005 12:34 pm

Always one of the big heroes down here in South Texas.I'm sure that the baby Jesus is waiting to greet him.
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