Country Joe and the Fish

Country Joe and the Fish was an American psychedelic rock band formed in Berkeley, California, in 1965. The band was among the influential groups in the San Francisco music scene during the mid- to late 1960s. Much of the band's music was written by founding members Country Joe McDonald and Barry "The Fish" Melton, with lyrics pointedly addressing issues of importance to the counterculture, such as anti-war protests, free love, and recreational drug use. Through a combination of psychedelia and electronic music, the band's sound was marked by innovative guitar melodies and distorted organ-driven instrumentals which were significant to the development of acid rock.

The band self-produced two EPs that drew attention on the underground circuit before signing to Vanguard Records in 1966. Their debut album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body, followed in 1967. It contained their only nationally charting single, "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine", and their most experimental arrangements. Their second album, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die, was released in late 1967; its title track, with its dark humor and satire, became their signature tune and is among the era's most recognizable protest songs. Further success followed, including McDonald's appearance at Woodstock, but the group's lineup underwent changes until its disbandment in 1970. Members of the band continue in the music industry as solo recording artists and sporadically reconvene.

Country Joe and the Fish
Country Joe and the Fish
Country Joe and the Fish in 1967
Background information
OriginBerkeley, California, United States
Genres
Years active1965–70, sporadically thereafter
Labels
Websitewell.com/~cjfish
Past membersCountry Joe McDonald
Barry "The Fish" Melton
Gary "Chicken" Hirsh
David Bennett Cohen
Bruce Barthol
David Getz
Peter Albin
John Francis Gunning
Paul Armstrong
Mark Ryan
Gregory Leroy Dewey
Mark Kapner
Doug Metzler

History

Formation (1965)

The first lineup of Country Joe and the Fish formed in mid-1965, when Country Joe McDonald (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Barry "The Fish" Melton (lead guitar, vocals) came together as a duo.[1] The two musicians had a background rooted in folk music, were enamored with the recordings of Woody Guthrie, and worked on the local acoustic coffeehouse circuit in the early 1960s.[1] Melton honed his political protest prowess as a guitarist in Los Angeles, at venues such as the Ash Grove, before relocating to Berkeley, California, where he was a regular at the Jabberwock cafe.[2] Prior to the group, McDonald set up two folk and jug bands, the Berkeley String Quartet and the Instant Jug Band, both of which served as outlets for his original material, and with the latter group including Melton.[3] In addition, McDonald was a publisher of the left-wing underground magazine Et Tu Brute, which later became Rag Baby, containing poetry, drawings, and political messages.[4] By early 1965, McDonald had become involved in the burgeoning folk scene in Berkeley, and the Free Speech Movement that was organizing demonstrations in University of California, Berkeley, which opposed the war in Vietnam. Not long afterwards, McDonald was inspired to record a "talking issue" of his magazine, and organized Country Joe and the Fish with Melton and fellow musicians Carl Schrager (washboard, kazoo), Bill Steele (bass guitar), and Mike Beardslee (vocals), out of both necessity of a recording alias and political device, to self-produce an extended play.[5][6]

ED Denson, the co-publisher of Rag Baby, introduced McDonald to Chris Strachwitz, who owned Arhoolie Recording Studios, to self-produce the EP.[7] Sensing the band's potential, Denson assumed management control, and was responsible for coining the group's name—a reference to Josef Stalin and to Mao Zedong's description of revolutionaries as "the fish who swim in the sea of the people".[2] McDonald, who had recording experience, began utilizing Arhoolie Recording Studios to record four songs split equally between the band and a local folk musician, Peter Krug. It was during this time at Arhoolie Records that Country Joe and the Fish's folk sound and political protest prowess—an amalgam of their own Guthrie-influenced material and their folk music roots—began to emerge. The band's side of the EP featured two originals by McDonald, an acoustic version of "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag", and "Superbird".[5][8] According to McDonald, "The Fish Cheer" was written in 30 minutes, with a purpose of expressing satiric and dark commentary on the US's involvement in the Vietnam War.[9] In October 1965, 100 copies of the EP, titled Rag Baby Talking Issue No. 1, were distributed on McDonald's independent label at a Teach-in in UC Berkeley and underground shops selling Rag Baby magazine.[10]

For a brief period, McDonald and Melton performed together as a duo at college campuses in the Northwest on behalf of Students for a Democratic Society before returning as regulars at the Jabberwock cafe.[11] The two were joined by local jug band musicians, including Melton's roommates, bass player Bruce Barthol and guitarist Paul Armstrong, and bluegrass guitarist David Bennett Cohen, with whom Melton played in another jug band. The addition of drummer John Francis-Gunning rounded out the six-piece ensemble.[12] It was during their residency at the Jabberwock that Country Joe and the Fish learned to play as a group and expand their repertoire. Within months, based on McDonald and Melton's interest in the live performances of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the recordings on Bob Dylan's album, Highway 61 Revisited, and their use of the mind-altering drug LSD, the group began equipping themselves with electric instruments and delving more into psychedelia.[13] As a result, Cohen was moved over to the organ. Cohen's experience with keyboards was limited to having played piano at a semiprofessional capacity at the Jabberwock, but, nonetheless, he quickly adapted to the qualities of the instrument.[14] Melton describes the change of the group: "Once we hit into the electric medium and into the rock medium, we were pandering to the public taste. We became extraordinarily popular. The little folk club where we used to play once every two weeks, we played every single night for a month, or something like that, and filled it. And after a while we filled two shows every single night".[13]

Electric music (1966–68)

As Country Joe and the Fish's popularity grew, the band relocated to San Francisco in early 1966 and became popular fixtures at the Avalon and the Filmore Auditorium. On June 6, 1966, the band recorded a second self-produced EP, which was packaged separately from the Rag Baby magazine and, upon its release, debuted the new psychedelic rock incarnation of the group.[15] The EP fulfilled the band's ambitions to incorporate electric instruments into their music, effectively melding the instrumentals and pioneering an early template for the musical subgenre of acid rock. It included McDonald's compositions "(Thing Called) Love" and "Bass Strings" on the A-side and the six-minute "Section 43" on the B-side.[16] Music historian Richie Unterberger praised "Section 43", saying its "Asiatic guitar, tribal maracas, devious organ, floating harmonica, and ethereal mid-sections of delicate koto-like guitar picking rivaled the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's East West as the finest psychedelic instrumental ever".[13] Within three months, airplay of the EP spread across the new so-called progressive radio stations, reaching as far as New York City, and establishing Country Joe and the Fish as a nationally relevant musical act.[17]

Through connections that Cohen had with record producer Samuel Charters, the group signed a recording contract with Vanguard Records in December 1966, just as the label, which had primarily released folk music, was attempting to branch out into the growing psychedelic rock scene.[14] While the band waited to record their debut album, they were present at the Human Be-In, along with other influential San Francisco musical acts, including Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service. The event was a prelude to the Summer of Love and helped publicize counterculture ideals such as ecology, free-love and the use of illicit drugs.[18]

In February 1967, Country Joe and the Fish entered Sierra Sound Laboratories to record their debut album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body, with Charters and Denson overseeing the process. Prior to their studio work, Armstrong left the group and began a two-year alternative assignment as a conscientious objector, driving a truck for Goodwill Industries.[12] Francis-Gunning was involved in the beginnings of the album's development but left when the rest of the band complained about his drumming technique. He was replaced by Gary "Chicken" Hirsh. The next recording session was postponed for three days as the most recognizable lineup of Country Joe and the Fish rehearsed with their new drummer at the Barn, in Santa Cruz.[19] Hirsh's abilities were immediately distinguishable on the album, as he demonstrated an acute and articulate drum beat that music critic Bruce Eder praised as "some of the best drumming on a psychedelic record this side of the late Spencer Dryden".[20]

Electric Music for the Mind and Body was released on May 11, 1967. Much of the album's material continued to expand upon the band's new psychedelic medium, with it embracing all facets of the members' influences, which ranged from their folk roots, blues, raga rock and hard rock.[21] The album also saw Cohen coming forward in a larger role with inventive distorted-organ melodies.[22] In addition, McDonald's lyrical content, which brazenly pronounced topics of political protest, recreational drug use, and love, augmented by satirical humor, clearly introduced the band's orientation and message. The compositional structures followed discrete movement patterns emulating the style of John Fahey, whom McDonald admired.[21] Though Electric Music for the Mind and Body was among the most complex works to date, it possessed the quality that several other San Francisco acts shared of being recorded mostly live, with only the vocals being overdubbed after the instrumentals were completed.[23]

Electric Music for the Mind and Body was a success upon release, charting at number 39 on the Billboard 200, and remains one of the most enduring psychedelic works of the counterculture era. A single, "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine", was distributed a month prior to the release of the album and became the only Country Joe and the Fish single to chart, peaking at number 98 on the Billboard Hot 100, in large part a culmination of its airplay on FM broadcasting and college stations.[24] A reworked version of "The Fish Cheer" was intended to be released as a track on the album. However, Charters vetoed the decision to see whether the controversial song "Superbird" would face a radio ban.[25] Nonetheless, the band was considered a forerunner in the emerging music scene in San Francisco, exhibiting one of the more polished debuts, just as its contemporaries were still refining their own sound.[21][26] Melton attributes the album's success, particularly in San Francisco, to the band's appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967. Subsequently, the group toured the East Coast with an elaborate psychedelic light show.[27]

The band returned to the studio, this time at Vanguard Studios in New York City, between July and September 1967. When "Superbird", a tune mocking President Lyndon Johnson, was not banned from radio promotion, the band was given the go-ahead to record "The Fish Cheer", which saw the group moving away from the original folk composition toward electric instrumentals more synthesized toward psychedelia. The song became the title track of the band's second album, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die, released in November 1967. The album was not as successful as its predecessor, but still charted at number 67.[28] The composition represented growing anti-war sentiment expressed by those opposing the Vietnam War, and is often considered one of the most recognized and celebrated protest songs of the era.[29][30] "The Fish Cheer" was also pivotal in communicating the attitude against the war, but was set apart from other anti-war songs for its use of sarcastic humor and satire on the controversial conflict.[31] Writer Lee Andresen reflects on the song's meaning, saying, "the happy beat and insouciance of the vocalist are in odd juxtaposition to the lyrics that reinforce the sad fact that the American public was being forced into realizing that Vietnam was no longer a remote place on the other side of the world, and the damage it was doing to the country could no longer be considered collateral, involving someone else."[32]

The song met unprecedented exposure among the band's young audience after a performance at the Schaefer Music Festival in New York City, in the summer of 1968.[20] Hirsh suggested that instead of the opening chorus spelling "fish", it would spell "fuck", giving birth to the infamous "Fuck Cheer".[20] The crowd of young teenagers and college students applauded the act; however executives from The Ed Sullivan Show barred Country Joe and the Fish from their scheduled appearance on the program, and any other possible events.[25] Hirsh has never explained why he recommended the change in lyrics, but the act is seen as a social and political statement advocating free speech.[29] The recorded version of "The Fish Cheer" received airplay, even on mainstream radio stations, which contributed to the success of the band's third album, Together, its most commercially successful. The album, released in August 1968, featured songwriting by all of the band members and charted at number 23 nationally.[33]

Lineup changes and Woodstock (1969–70)

In September 1968, Barthol left the band, just prior to their fourth album. His departure was due to the rest of the band's unwillingness to partake in the Festival for Life, an event established by the Youth International Party in Chicago that was intended to have the participation of several well-known musicians attract thousands of spectators for the 1968 Democratic National Convention.[12] However, the city refused to issue any permits, and the band members, by majority vote, decided to withdraw out of fear that their equipment would be damaged.[34] After the festival resulted in riots and violent clashes between demonstrators and the police, Barthol's conviction that Country Joe and the Fish should have held a larger role precipitated his departure from the group and move to England.[12]

Between January 9 and 11, 1969, the band performed at the Fillmore West as a farewell to the group's most famous lineup, with Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane standing in as the bass player. The band was joined by Jerry Garcia, Jorma Kaukonen, Steve Miller, and Mickey Hart for the 38-minute finale, "Donavan's Reef Jam". Recordings from the concerts were later assembled on the live album Live! Fillmore West 1969, released on March 12, 1996.[35] Hirsh and Cohen left soon after recording the group's next album, Here We Are Again, and a new lineup was configured with Casady and David Getz, who formerly played drums with Big Brother and the Holding Company. The group released Here We Are Again in July 1969. It charted at number 48, and saw Country Joe and the Fish moving to a pop-oriented approach. Country Joe and the Fish's personnel remained relatively stable for the next six months, though Peter S. Albin, also an alumnus of Big Brother and the Holding Company, replaced Casady at bass.[2]

However, when McDonald reassembled the band for a last-minute scheduling at the Woodstock Festival, another personnel change resulted in the group's final lineup, which included recruits Mark Kapner on keyboards, Doug Metzner on bass, and Greg Dewey on drums. Among the festival's most memorable moments was McDonald's unexpected solo performance on August 16, 1969, which included "The Fuck Cheer" as a finale.[36] The audience receptively responded by chanting along with McDonald. McDonald's rendition of "The Fuck Cheer" propelled the song into the mainstream culture in the U.S., and was featured on the Woodstock film, which was released on March 26, 1970. Radio stations regularly played both versions of the cheer, though the opposition to "The Fuck Cheer" limited its exposure to underground stations.[37] In December 1969, McDonald began his own career outside the band, releasing cover versions of Guthrie-penned songs on Thinking of Woody Guthrie, and country standards on Tonight I'm Singing Just For You.[38] All the while, the group looked to capitalize on the momentum from Woodstock and their appearance in the film, Zachariah, by releasing their fifth album, CJ Fish, in May 1970. The album was a moderate success, reaching number 111 nationally. However the band members lacked the motivation for touring and recording, which led to their disbandment in mid-1970.[17]

Aftermath and reunions

McDonald pursued his solo recording career, which spans over 30 albums, and remains an active anti-war campaigner. He has also appeared in every Woodstock reunion festival since 1979.[39] Melton performed solo as well, under the moniker "The Fish", and later became a member of the Bay Area supergroup, the Dinosaurs, in the 1980s. Since 1982, Melton was able to practice law in California and became a Public Defender of Yolo County, California until his retirement in June 2009.[40] Country Joe and the Fish members sporadically reconvene, most notably when the classic 1967 lineup recorded Reunion in 1977.[41] The lineup, except Melton, came together again as the Country Joe Band in 2004. In the same year, the group resumed touring, released the Barthol-penned single, "Cakewalk to Baghdad", and the live album Live in Berkeley. Though the Country Joe Band disbanded in 2006, some of the members still occasionally tour together.[42]

Discography

Singles

  • "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" b/w "Masked Marauder" (1967) (#98 Billboard Hot 100)
  • "Janis" b/w "Janis" (instrumental) (1967)
  • "Who Am I?" b/w "Thursday" (1968)
  • "Rock and Soul Music Part 1" b/w "Rock and Soul Music Part 2" (1968)
  • "Here I Go Again" b/w "Baby You're Driving Me Crazy" (1969)
  • "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag" b/w "Janis" (1969)
  • "Hang On" b/w "Hand of Man" (1971)

EPs

  • Talking Issue #1, Rag Baby (1965)
  • Country Joe and the Fish, Rag Baby (1966)

Studio albums

Live album

  • Live! Fillmore West 1969 (1994)

Compilations

References

  1. ^ a b "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die (CD booklet)". Ace Vanguard Masters. 2013. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. ^ a b c Eder, Bruce. "Country Joe and the Fish – Biography". allmusic.com. Retrieved June 27, 2015.
  3. ^ "The Berkeley String Quartet". countryjoe.com. Retrieved June 27, 2015.
  4. ^ James, Gary. "Gary James' Interview With "Country" Joe McDonald". classicbands.com. Retrieved June 27, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Collectors Items: The First Three EP's (CD booklet)". One Way Records. 1994. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  6. ^ "Interview with Country Joe McDonald". cincygroove.com. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  7. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "ED Denson – Biography". allmusic.com. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  8. ^ Harris, Craig. "Country Joe McDonald – Biography". allmusic.com. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  9. ^ "How I Wrote the Rag". countryjoe.com. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  10. ^ "Rag Baby EP 1: Talking Issue". deaddisc.com. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  11. ^ "Country Joe Shows". chickenonaunicycle.com. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d Childs, Marti; March, Jeff (2011). "Echoes of the Sixties". EditPros LLC. ISBN 9781937317027.
  13. ^ a b c Unterberger, Richie (2003). "Eight Miles High: Folk-rock's Flight from Haight-Ashbury to Woodstock". Backbeat Books. pp. 26–30. ISBN 0879307439.
  14. ^ a b "Country Joe & The Fish interview with David Bennett Cohen". It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  15. ^ Planer, Lindsay. "Collector's Items: The First Three EPs – Review". allmusic.com. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
  16. ^ Cabral, Ron (2004). "Country Joe & Me". 1st Books Library. pp. 73–74. ISBN 1410765377. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  17. ^ a b "Country Joe McDonald, Biography". countryjoe.com. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  18. ^ "Country Joe McDonald: No Ordinary Joe". The Independent. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  19. ^ Viscounti, Tony (2014). "1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die...And 10,001 You Must Download" (4th ed.). New York: Universe Publishing. p. 902. ISBN 9780789320896.
  20. ^ a b c Eder, Bruce. "Gary "Chicken" Hirsh – Biography". allmusic.com. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  21. ^ a b c Palao, Alex (2013). "Electric Music for the Mind and Body (CD booklet)". Ace Vanguard Masters. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  22. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Electric Music for the Mind and Body – Review". allmusic.com. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  23. ^ "Country Joe and the Fish interview with Joe McDonald". It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  24. ^ Belmount, Bill. "A History". well.com. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  25. ^ a b "The Notorious Cheer". countryjoe.com. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  26. ^ Torn, Luke. "Country Joe & The Fish – Electric Music For The Mind And Body". uncut.co.uk. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  27. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Barry Melton Interview for Turn! Turn! Turn!/Eight Miles High". cjfishlegacy.com. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  28. ^ "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die". acerecords.co.uk. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  29. ^ a b Perone, James E. (2001). "Songs of the Vietnam Conflict". Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 40. ISBN 0313315280.
  30. ^ "Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Protest Songs of All Time". rollingstone.com. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  31. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die – Review". allmusic.com. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  32. ^ Andresen, Lee (2000). "Battle Notes: Music of the Vietnam War". Superior: Savage Press. p. 62. ISBN 1886028605.
  33. ^ Ruhlmamn, William. "Together – Review". allmusic.com. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  34. ^ Farber, David (1988). "Chicago '68". University of Chicago Press. pp. 177–178. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  35. ^ Trager, Oliver (1997). "The American Book of the Dead". Simon & Schuster Inc. p. 249. ISBN 9780684814025.
  36. ^ Johnson, Phil. "Feel Like I'm Fixin' for a Comeback". independent.co.uk. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  37. ^ "Country Joe and the Fish, the Greatest Song of the '60s? (Interview)". rockcellarmagazine.com. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  38. ^ "Country Joe McDonald's Tribute to Woody Guthrie". countryjoe.com. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  39. ^ "Country Joe McDonald, Woodstock XXX". countryjoe.com. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  40. ^ "Barry "The Fish" Melton". counterculture.net. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  41. ^ "Singular Fish". cjfishlegacy.com. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  42. ^ "The Original Country Joe Band". countryjoe.com. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  43. ^ Country Joe and the Fish at AllMusic: Discography

External links

Barry Melton

Barry "The Fish" Melton (born June 14, 1947) is the co-founder and original lead guitarist of Country Joe and The Fish and The Dinosaurs. He appears on all the Country Joe and The Fish recordings and he also wrote some of the songs that the band recorded. He appeared in the films made at Monterey Pop and Woodstock, and also appeared as an outlaw in the neo-Western film, Zachariah, and other films in which Country Joe and the Fish appear. An attorney and member of the State Bar of California, Melton has maintained a criminal defense practice since 1982.

Bruce Barthol

Bruce Barthol, (born November 11, 1947), is an American bass player.

Born at Alta Bates Hospital, Berkeley, California, he was the original bass player with Country Joe and the Fish through to November 1968. Staying on in England after a European tour eventually led to the formation of Formerly Fat Harry with Gary Peterson and fellow Berkeley native, and one time denizen of the Jabberwock, Phil Greenberg. Upon his return to the Bay Area, Barthol formed Energy Crisis with some ex-members of the Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band before becoming the musical director for the Tony Award winning San Francisco Mime Troupe in 1976. In 2004 to 2006, Barthol joined ex-Country Joe and the Fish members Joe McDonald, David Bennett Cohen and Chicken Hirsh for a number of short tours of the United States and the UK. Retirement from the San Francisco Mime Troupe came in 2009 together with the release with an acclaimed solo album The Decline and Fall of Everything. He has also written for the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and the Oberlin Dance Company. Barthol is currently playing bass with the Former Members who include Greg Douglass, Roy Blumenfeld and David Bennett Cohen in their line-up. He holds an MFA in Musical Theater from New York University.

CJ Fish

CJ Fish is the fifth album by the San Francisco psychedelic rock group, Country Joe and the Fish, released in May 1970 on the Vanguard label. It would be the first production with Tom Wilson and Country Joe & the Fishes's last studio album for Vanguard Records. Recording takes place at the Record Plant in Los Angeles, California.After extensive touring with a new lineup, including Big Brother and the Holding Company guitarist Peter Albin, the makeshift group returned to the recording studio.Country Joe McDonald had already begun producing and recording solo albums for the label at the point of recording. As for the band, Country Joe and the Fish underwent a personnel change for this album adding drum player Greg Dewey, bassist Doug Metzner, and keyboardist Mark Kapner in place of David Cohen and Gary "Chicken" Hirsh. Primary composers Barry "The Fish" Melton and "Country Joe" McDonald remained, resulting in an album that retained the sound and style of the original lineup. The new lineup would tour extensively around the time the Woodstock film was released and the group was included in the film Zachariah as outlaws known as "The Crackers".After experimenting on the previous album Here We Are Again (1969), the band reverted to their earlier sound that originated from their first two albums for the CJ Fish album. Although the album is psychedelic in nature, it is noted to be pop-orientated. Vanguards Records attempted to make the band more mainstream and this was the closest result that the group could produce as it is still very much underground. Track themes were still centered on the subjects of love and life as commonly done by the band. Despite the success of their tour, respectable album charting, and movie feature, the band would disband in the following year.

Country Joe McDonald

Joseph Allen "Country Joe" McDonald (born January 1, 1942) is an American musician who was the lead singer of the 1960s psychedelic rock group Country Joe and the Fish.

David Bennett Cohen

David Bennett Cohen (born August 4, 1942) is an American musician best known as the original keyboardist and one of the guitar players for the late-1960s psychedelic rock and blues band Country Joe and the Fish.

Electric Music for the Mind and Body

Electric Music for the Mind and Body is Country Joe and the Fish's debut album. Released in May 1967 on the Vanguard label, it was one of the first psychedelic albums to come out of San Francisco.

Tracks from the LP, especially "Section 43", "Grace", and "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" were played on progressive FM rock stations like KSAN and KMPX in San Francisco, often back-to-back. A version of the song "Love" was performed at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

"Grace" is a tribute to Jefferson Airplane's lead singer, Grace Slick.

Gary "Chicken" Hirsh

Gary "Chicken" Hirsh was born in Chicago in March 9, 1940. He was a drummer for the rock group Country Joe and the Fish. In December 1966 he replaced John Francis Gunning, and left the band in 1969. He then opened an art supply shop called Abraxas in Oakland, later went to New York, before returning to Berkeley.[1] He's said to be the one who altered the FISH cheer[2] at a concert at New York's Central Park. He also played with the group Blackburn & Snow, and with the Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band. In 1972 he played and recorded with Touchstone in 1972, with one of his paintings appearing on the inside of the album. He is now an artist, T-shirt manufacturer, and jazz musician [3] living in Ashland, Oregon, and has also reunited with the Country Joe Band.[4]

Here We Are Again (Country Joe and the Fish album)

Here We Are Again is the fourth album by the psychedelic rock band Country Joe and the Fish. It was released in 1969 with the US catalog number Vanguard VSD 79299. It peaked on the Billboard 200 at number 48, and stayed on the charts for eleven weeks. Only Country Joe McDonald and Melton remained from the original lineup that began breaking up since the previous album. The past members would appear as guest musicians however.

The songs were composed by Country Joe McDonald and Barry Melton. In addition to "Country Joe" McDonald (vocals, guitar) and Barry "The Fish" Melton (lead guitar, vocals), the founding members of the band Gary "Chicken" Hirsh on drums and David Bennett Cohen (Hammond organ, piano and guitar) also played on the recording. The remaining instruments were played by Mark Ryan and President Flyer. For the first time ever, some titles were accompanied by string and brass, which gave the album a somewhat poppier character. The tracks "I'll Survive" and "Maria" were recorded at Vanguard Studios in 23rd Street, New York. The remaining compositions were recorded at und Pacific High Studios, San Francisco.A single from the album, "Here I Go Again"/"Baby, You're Driving Me Crazy", was released, but it did not place in the charts.

I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die

I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die is the second studio album by the influential San Francisco psychedelic rock band, Country Joe and the Fish, and released in 1967. Recordings took place in Vanguard studios in 71 West 23rd Street, New York City. The title track remains one of the most popular Vietnam protest songs from the 1960s and originally appeared on a 1965 7" EP titled Rag Baby: Songs of Opposition. On the album version, "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" appears following "The Fish Cheer", which at concerts became a Country Joe standard. At Woodstock, Joe had the crowd yell F-U-C-K instead of F-I-S-H. Another musical highlight is the track "Janis" written for McDonald's then-girlfriend Janis Joplin. It is the second song written for a female musician for their albums, the other being "Grace". Two singles were released in the wake of the album. These include "Janis"/"Janis (instrumental)" and "Who Am I"/"Thursday".The second album was released just seven months after the debut and is another prime example of the band's psychedelic experimentation. It again features organ-heavy psychedelia and Eastern melodic lines and more acoustic guitar than their debut production. During this time, the band continued to build on their growing fame by performing at local venues like the Fillmore Auditorium. Despite the familiarity of the opening track, the album itself sold less than its predecessor. The album, as a whole, fit well in the psychedelic scene of San Francisco. The band effectively used satirical humor to express their outspoken views toward the Vietnam War and other hot topics of the counterculture. Although the rest of the tracks were not as popular, they still were accessible and showcased Country Joe McDonald as a lead vocalist. With the creativity of the band reaching a climax, the band began touring nationally and became positively regarded for their live light shows.The title song faced a legal challenge from the estate of New Orleans jazz trombone pioneer Edward "Kid" Ory, whose daughter Babette claimed that McDonald had appropriated the melody for his song from Ory's classic "Muskrat Ramble" as recorded by Louis Armstrong & his Hot Five in 1926. A 2005 judgment upheld McDonald's copyright on the song, claiming that Ory had waited too long to make the claim.

The original album sleeve contained a poster for "The Fish Game", a huge 22 x 33-inch fold-out board game sheet for throwing a dice and moving five band-member cut-out paper pieces around on. Various goals are available for the game such as "scoring a joint".

List of performances and events at Woodstock Festival

The Woodstock Music & Art Fair was a music festival held on a 600-acre (2.4 km²; 240 ha, 0.94 mi²) dairy farm in the rural town of Bethel, New York from August 15 to August 18, 1969. Thirty-two acts performed during the sometimes rainy weekend in front of nearly half a million concertgoers. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest moments in popular music history and was listed on Rolling Stone's "50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll".

Northern California Folk-Rock Festival (1968)

The Northern California Folk-Rock Festival was a music festival held at Family Park in the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, 344 Tully Road, San Jose, California, on May 18–19, 1968 and promoted by Bob Blodgett. It was the first of two such festivals held at the venue, being followed by the Northern California Folk-Rock Festival (1969).

The festival featured Country Joe and the Fish, The Animals, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Big Brother and the Holding Company feat. Janis Joplin, The Youngbloods, The Electric Flag, Kaleidoscope, Taj Mahal, and Ravi Shankar. And although not mentioned in the promotional material, the Grateful Dead also performed.Linda Segul created a poster. Carson-Morris Studios also created a poster featuring Jim Morrison.

Reunion (Country Joe and the Fish album)

Reunion is the sixth studio album by the American psychedelic rock group Country Joe and the Fish, released in 1977 by the original 1967 band. It was produced by Sam Charters for Fantasy Records and recorded between January and April 1977. The music is not so psychedelic and several tracks are country rock.

Revolution (1968 film)

Revolution is a documentary film by Jack O'Connell made in San Francisco in 1967. It was subsequently revived with added reminiscences.

Although most interviewees are not named some of them have been identified, such as Kurt Hirschhorn, Frank Jordan, Cecil Williams and Herb Caen. Daria Halprin appears in the film as herself. Also appearing in the film are the Ace of Cups, Country Joe and the Fish, and Dan Hicks.

Separated Vegetables

Separated Vegetables is the first full-length album by Washington, D.C.'s Slickee Boys. Self-released on guitarist Kim Kane's Dacoit label (catalog number 1001), it was pressed in an edition of 100 copies. As well as songs written by the band, it includes cover versions of songs originally by Overkill (an early D.C. punk band, not the heavy metal band of the same name), Flamin' Groovies, the Road Runners, Johnny Smith, Country Joe and the Fish, the Small Faces, Chuck Berry, and the Hangmen (whose song, "What a Girl Can't Do", the Slickee's had already released on their debut record, 1976's Hot and Cool EP. A mix of studio and live recordings, the album includes a number of tracks taped in front of an appreciative audience at D.C. punk dive the Keg.

The "Fish" Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag

"I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" is a song by the American psychedelic rock band Country Joe and the Fish, written by Country Joe McDonald, and first released as the opening track on the extended play Rag Baby Talking Issue No. 1, in October 1965 (see 1965 in music). "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag"'s dark humor and satire made it one of the most recognized protest songs against the Vietnam War. Critics cite the composition as a classic of the counterculture era.

The song was usually preceded by "The Fish Cheer", a cheer spelling out "F-I-S-H". An altered version of the cheer that was performed in live performances, known as "The Fuck Cheer", resulted in a television ban for Country Joe and the Fish in 1968, for the vulgarity, but was applauded by concert-goers.

"I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" saw a more commercial release on the group's second album, I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die, which was distributed in November 1967. The song was a favorite among the hippie culture, and was featured in McDonald's set list at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Decades later, McDonald had a lawsuit filed against him for allegedly infringing on the copyright of Kid Ory's tune, "Muskrat Ramble". McDonald denied these allegations and the suit was later dismissed.

The Life and Times of Country Joe and the Fish

The Life and Times of Country Joe and the Fish is a compilation album by the American psychedelic rock band Country Joe and the Fish and was released on Vanguard Records in September 1971 (see 1971 in music). The album provides a summary of Country Joe and the Fish's history from their formation in 1965 to their disbandment in 1970, and also serves as a survey of their recording career during that span. Although the track listing is not in a specified chronological order, it does encompass a mixture of their most celebrated experimental and traditionally-structured compositions. All of the songs included on the original The Life and Times of Country Joe and the Fish album can all be found on the band's first five albums, Electric Music for the Mind and Body, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die, Together, Here We Are Again, and CJ Fish.The album includes the first appearance of the original folk and jug version of the group's best known song, "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag", outside the band's first EP released on the self-published Rag Baby magazine. A live rendition performed at the Woodstock Festival also concludes the album. Other live recordings featured on the album include "Superbird", "Marijuana", "Rock and Soul Music", "Masked Marauder", and "Love Machine". Of the singles included on the album, the only one to nationally chart was "Not So Sweet Lorraine", which manage to reach number 98 on the Billboard Hot 100.The Life and Times of Country Joe and the Fish was the final album by the band to be distributed by Vanguard Records to chart nationally. Upon release, the album reached number 198 on the Billboard 200 and was commended for its good sound quality in comparison to Vanguard's later compilation albums.

Together (Country Joe and the Fish album)

Together is the third album by the San Francisco psychedelic rock band, Country Joe and the Fish, released in 1968. Before recording, Country Joe McDonald briefly left, so for developments with the band, they were addressed just as "The Fish". McDonald would return in time for recording sessions so the name change was relatively brief. Although it was not considered their strongest work, especially since McDonald's superior songwriting presence was absent, Together still was the most financially successful output from the band.Melton and "Chicken" Hirsh take the role as main songwriters, creating variously different tracks in regard to style. The album begins with a tribute to James Brown with the track "Rock and Soul Music". From there, the band continues its development of psychedelic music with the theme of love and life for their songs. Evidently, the band were still against the Vietnam War as the track "Untitled Protest" suggest. The organ played on the song was called "Death Mantra", the name bestowed upon by McDonald. With the success of the album, the band embarked on a national tour that was also dubbed a success thanks, in part, to their light shows.Country Joe would not be involved in tracks two and five and would be filled in by studio musicians. This is a beginning of the personnel changes involved with the band's next two albums. Barthol would leave in the following month and Cohen and Hirsh would follow out in January 1969.

Woodstock '79

Woodstock '79 was a rock concert that took place at Madison Square Garden, New York City in 1979, the year of the 10th anniversary of the original Woodstock Festival.

Some of the musicians performed at the original festival of 1969. There were jam sessions with Richie Havens, Taj Mahal, Country Joe and the Fish, Canned Heat, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and Elliott Randall. Also appearing were Rick Danko, Jorma Kaukonen, Stephen Stills, Paul Butterfield, and Johnny Winter among others.

In 1991 an 80-minute video with the title The Celebration Continues:Woodstock '79 was released.

Zachariah (film)

Zachariah is a 1971 American Western musical film directed by George Englund and written by Joe Massot and the four members of the comedy troupe The Firesign Theatre (Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Philip Proctor). The film stars John Rubinstein as Zachariah, and Don Johnson as his friend Matthew, as two gunfighters journeying through the American West.

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