The bass pickup fed into the two Standel bass amps on the bottom of the stack. Each Standel was equipped with two 15-inch speakers. The treble pickups fed the two Fender amps: 1 Fender Twin Reverb with two 12-inch speakers and 1 Fender Dual Showman that drove the six Wurlitzer horns. His style was highly melodic and expressive. Cipollina's classical past no doubt influenced his guitar style, which was miles beyond the usual blues-scale, pentatonic work of many of the other psychedelic-era guitarists.
His work on fellow dueling guitarist Gary Duncan's electric arrangement/adaption of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five", retitled "Gold and Silver," which appears on the self-titled first album of Quicksilver, is an excellent example of how Cipollina took rock to places it usually didn't dare to venture. Other ventures include founding the Jazz/Rock band Freelight, with now famous country crooner, Pam Tillis. Cipollina used a custom foot switch setup to select reverb, tremolo, Astro Echoplex (the unit mounted on the right of the Twin Reverb), and Standel Modulux (on the left of the twin reverb). 12 volt automotive running lights indicated which effect was being used. Cipollina also employed a Gibson Maestro Fuzz and Vox wah-wah/volume pedals. Throughout his career, Cipollina usually played Gibson SGs, but in the late '70s and into the '80s could also be seen playing a Carvin DC150, which was similar to a double-cutaway Les Paul, but with more modern factory installed electronics. He played with finger picks, thumb picks, and used a whammy bar extensively which, he explained to Jerry Garcia, was to make up for his weak left (tremolo) hand. In 1974, the Welsh psychedelic band Man were embarking upon a tour of the UK and the United States, but within the final leg of their tour their guitarist Micky Jones developed pneumonia and most of the dates had to be cancelled. John Cipollina was suggested to fill the place of Jones for the final gigs that were to be at the San Francisco Winterland.
As they were a two-guitar band, the band met and rehearsed with John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service, who played with them at Winterland, and agreed to play a UK tour.These were a great success, and promoter Bill Graham paid them a bonus, and rebooked them, but the band had a shaky line-up, and one of its members left the band. However, they still were able to continue the tour in the UK, during which their "Roundhouse gig" was recorded, but rumors held that Micky Jones had to over-dub Cipollina’s guitar, as it was out of tune, before their Maximum Darkness album could be released. Even so, the album eventually reached #25 in the UK album charts. Cipollina died on 29 May 1989 from chronic emphysema at the age of 45 after a career in music that spanned twenty five years. Quicksilver Messenger Service fans paid tribute to him the following month in San Francisco at an all-star concert at the Fillmore Auditorium which featured Nicky Hopkins, David Freiberg, and John's brother Mario, an original member of Huey Lewis and the News.
Cipollina's one of a kind massive amplifier stack was donated, along with one of his customized Gibson SG guitars, and effects pedals, for display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 1995.[ Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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