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Dino Valenti

Born Chester William Powers, Jr., October 7, 1937, New York City, NY, “Chet” kicked off his enigmatic musical career when he played coffeehouses (Cafe Wha?, Cock’n’Bull, etc.) in Greenwich Village in the early 60s; his friends at the time included FRED NEIL, BOB DYLAN, KAREN DALTON, JOSH WHITE, LEN CHANDLER and PAUL STOOKEY. Billed as DINO VALENTI, the requirement for an individual cabaret licence (and an impending arrest) provoked the singer-songwriter into relocating to L.A.
It wasn’t long before his first song, `Get Together’ was published, a record soon to be a staple for many psychedelic folkies like WE FIVE, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE and The YOUNGBLOODS; Elektra Records released his solo 45, `Birdses’. In 1964 Dino moved to the Bay Area in San Francisco and hooked up with QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE, a prototype acid-rock outfit who would find fame a little later, albeit initially without Valenti, who was busted (and incarcerated inside Folsom State Prison for around a year) on possession of marijuana and amphetamine charges.
On his release in 1967, rather than re-join QMS, he delivered his one and only solo set for Epic Records, the slightly altered DINO VALENTE (sic) (1968) {*8}, a folkie album that should’ve attracted more attention and sales. Echoing the dropout of SKIP SPENCE (ex-JEFFERSON AIRPLANE), this was no easy-listening experience, rather an eerie trip into the quirky mind of an artist with troubles (check out, `Time’, `Children Of The Sun’, `My Friend’ and `Everything Is Gonna Be OK’.
Having abandoned his Outlaws project with QMS’s Gary Duncan, Dino reunited with Quicksilver as frontman in 1970; promoted to leader, he would write several songs under the pseudonym of Jesse Oris Farrow. From that year’s `Just For Love’ to 1975’s `Solid Silver’, VALENTI and the band had a fair degree of commercial success, but by the late 70s the man had bailed out once again. Although Dino continued to write the odd song or two, his health began to deteriorate, culminating in the late 80s when he underwent brain surgery for arterovenous malformation; he did manage at least one benefit gig, at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall, before he died at his home in Santa Rosa on November 16, 1994.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD / rev-up MCS Aug2013

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