Band members               Related acts

- John Cipollina (RIP 1989) - lead guitar (1970-)

- Hutch Hutchinson - vocals, bass (1972-)

- Jim McPherson - vocals, keyboards, bass (1970-)

- Gary Philippet - vocals, guitar , keyboards (1970-)

- David Weber - drums, percussion (1970-)



- John Cipollina (solo efforts)

- The Dinosaurs (John Cipollina)

- Earthquake (Gary Philippet)

- Fish & Chip (John Cipollina)

- Freedom Highway (Gary Philippet)

- Free Light (John Cipollina)

- Novato Frank Band (Jim McPherson)

- Quicksilver Messenger Service (John Cipollina)

- Problem Child (John Cipollina)

- Raven (John Cipollina)

- Stained Glass (Jim McPherson)

- Terry and the Pirates (John Cipollina, Jim McPherson 

  and David Weber)

- Thunder & Lightning (John Cipollina, Jim McPherson 

  and David Weber)

- Zero (John Cipollina)





Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Copperhead

Company: Columbia

Catalog: KC 32250

Year: 1973

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring wear on back cover; original insert

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4485

Price: $20.00

Cost: $66.00


Wow !!!  I guess I wasn't expecting all that much from Quicksilver Messenger Service's lead guitarist John Cipollina.  I was wrong ...


By the late 1960s Cipollina had grown increasingly dissatisfied with his role in Quicksilver Messenger Service (QMS).  Friction with Dino Valenti and a desire to stretch out beyond the constraints imposed within the band (specifically a lucrative sideline playing sessions) saw Cippolina finally strike out on his own in 1970.


Copperhead started out as a fairly unstructured enterprise; essentially Cipollina and friends jamming on the local club circuit but by 1972 the line-up consisted of Cipollina, ex-Stained Glass bassist Jim McPherson, fomer Freedom Highway guitarist Gary Philippet and drummer David Weber.  Word of mouth support led Michael Lang to sign the group to his newly formed Just Sunshine Records.  The band actually began recording material for an album tentatively entitled "Sealed For Your Protection".  Unfortunately, the label's lack of financial resources doomed the project and by late 1972 they'd been picked up by Clive Davis and Columbia Records (for what was then a reportedly staggering five year, $1.5 million contract).  


Released in 1973 (with the line up expanded to include bassist Hutch Hutchinson), the self-produced "Copperhead" offered up an excellent set of west coast rock.  With material such as 'Roller Derby Star' and 'They're Making a Monster' spotlighting Cipollina's instantly recognizable sinewy fret work, the set was quite a bit more focused and commercial than QMS's latter stage releases.  With Cipollina, McPherson and Philippet responsible for the majority of the album, the collection had a fairly varied sound, including straightforward rockers ('Pawnshop Man'), country-rock (the wonderful 'A Little Hand') and even a touch of Steely-Dan-esque jazz-rock ('Kamikaze').  Elsewhere, Columbia tapped 'Roller Derby Star' b/w 'Roller Derby Star' as a single (Columbia catalog number 4-45810).  Unfortunately, the band lost their prime mentor when Davis was unexpectedly fired from Columbia.  The group had already recorded a follow-on set, but Columbia executives promptly shelved it, dropping the band from the company's recording roster.  The band subsequently called it quits.   


Always in somewhat frail health, Cipollina died from a longstanding respitory problem in May 1989.


"Copperhead" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Roller Derby Star   (Kent Housman - Gary Philippet) - 4:15

2.) Kibtzer   (Jim McPherson) - 3:45

3.) A Little Hand   (Jim McPherson) - 5:00

4.) Kamikaze   (John Cipollina - Jim McPherson) - 5:26


(side 2)

1.) Spin-Spin  (John Cipollina - Gary Philippet) - 3:17

2.) Pawnshop Man  (John Cipollina - Gary Philippet) - 5:29

3.) Wing Dang Doodle   (Jim McPherson) - 4:05

4.) They're Making a Monster   (John Cipollina - Jim McPherson) - 7:36