due to chronic emphysema. His family donated
his favorite SG, along with his amp and effects
rig, to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where it
is on prominent display in the museum.
John Cipollina with a Kahler-equipped Carvin double-cutaway just north of San Francisco circa 1987. Photo by Alan Blaustein
Using a thumbpick and fingerpicks, Cipollina
achieved his trademark tones through an
unusual rig consisting of solid-state Standel
and Fender tube amps, coupled with large
Wurlitzer horns, echo units, and effects pedals. His background in classical guitar and
piano gave him a different perspective than
other rock guitarists of the era who relied
heavily on the pentatonic blues scale for
their solos and riffs.
Quicksilver’s other guitarist, Gary Duncan,
also bears mention. His early work in the
garage band the Brogues paid homage to
Yardbirds-era Jeff Beck, but in Quicksilver
he expanded his palette to include jazz
licks and sitar-like phrasing that blended
effectively with Cipollina’s quivering sounds.
With their divergent approaches, Duncan
and Cipollina managed to stay out of each
other’s way and form an extremely simpatico
Duncan still lives in the Bay area and occasionally tours with an updated version of
Quicksilver Messenger Service. In the late
’60s, he played a Gibson L- 5, an ES-335, and
a ’ 56 Les Paul Custom, but he eventually
shifted to Fender Stratocasters and Norlin-era
Gibson Firebirds and Les Pauls.
Michael Monarch with his customized Fender Strat.
Photo by DJ Moore
Cipollina continued to work in various San
Francisco-area bands until his death in 1989
When 17-year-old Michael Monarch joined
Steppenwolf in 1967, he’d only been playing
guitar for a few years. Nonetheless, he helped
the band score their first big hit with the biker
anthem, “Born to Be Wild.” Armed with a can-
dy-apple-red Fender Esquire blowing through
a fuzz box and Fender Concert or Bandmaster