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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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Comments

  1. Joe

    Use to play his song “Get Together”!in coverbands Didnt known he wrote it. Still listen to his Quicksilver days music.

  2. garry Burris

    What are you going do about me/what about me.
    I have been a real activist since 1980. I would tell peole asking what I do or what I did with all the years as an environmental planatary awareness captain activist tip now. 2020.

    The activist fuse coming out of me I that I understand that I was borne this way. The charge that exploded into a 40 years quest for the truth was barrels of toxic waste that I caught in my shrimping nets. I was a captain in the gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.
    I was in the bay area in 1970 and remember hearing about QMS. I may have found one of there albums in some hurricane debris after florida storm ‘George’ wrecked the keys.

    Recently a friend turned me onto ‘What about me’. That is the place and the person I am and have been. I am stuck in Ukraine feel way down and listening to this song and remembering my hippo daze brought me up. I just read some of Dino/chet. I really feel him coming alive inside me and pushing me forward.
    I play harmonica very well and would loved to have played with him. Maybe on the other side.

    1. Martin Strong

      Hi Garry. Obvious you miss Dino very much. One supposes you might Get it Together on some Happy Trails in the near future. Take care; I think you meant hippy rather than hippo, but I could be wrong.

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