1972. Pete Sears takes John Cipollina for a flight.

image1972. Pete Sears takes John Cipol­li­na for a flight.

Top. Pete Sears pre-flight­ing the air­craft at Nutree Air­port. Pho­to tak­en by John Cipol­li­na.

Bot­tom: John Cipol­li­na stands in front of the Chero­kee before fly­ing back to Gnoss Field in Nova­to with Pete. Pho­to by Pete Sears.

1972. I fly my old “Cop­per­head” band-mate John Cipol­li­na to Nutree air­port for lunch. That’s me in the black shirt on top, and John’s in the bot­tom pho­to. I had only recent­ly passed my FAA check-ride for my pilot’s license and was tak­ing var­i­ous friends up for a ride. I took John up a few times, as I did with Mark (Trad­er Mark) Unob­sky and Wal­ly Mess­more, Jim McPher­son (Cop­per­head) and quite a few oth­er brave souls.
John and I did a bomb­ing run on a field of sheep while John chucked a cheese sand­wich out the small cock­pit side win­dow. No sheep were hurt, but much fun was had.
I snapped a shot of John, and John took one of me doing my pre-flight check at Nutree.
I lat­er took my friend and soon to be wife Jean­nette (mar­ried 1975 after I joined Jef­fer­son Star­ship in 1974) to lunch in the same Chero­kee aircraft…we had been writ­ing songs togeth­er.
Jean­nette lat­er became my writ­ing part­ner for Jef­fer­son Star­ship after Grace (Who I wrote with dur­ing the 1970’s) left the band for one album (Free­dom at Point Zero) in 1980. As the decade wore on, my writ­ing with Jean­nette began to reflect our work with Cen­tral Amer­i­can refugees from the rag­ing Civ­il wars of Guatemala and El Sal­vador. The band (after Paul Kant­ner left) and pro­duc­er Peter Wolf (not the singer) decid­ed to only use songs for poten­tial AM radio hit sin­gles.
I final­ly left the band in 1987 and dove back into play­ing the blues with peo­ple like “Nick Graven­ites”.
I also pro­duced a human rights and envi­ron­men­tal album with many guests includ­ing Jer­ry Gar­cia, Micky Hart, David Gris­man, Mimi Fari­na and Baba Olatun­ji. I wrote the music and Jean­nette most of the lyrics…it was released on Red­wood Records and lat­er on Grate­ful Dead Records at Jerry’s sug­ges­tion. I also pro­duced a human rights video about Guatemala through a non-prof­it video pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny Jean­nette and I formed with Mary MCue, Ray Telles and Mark Adler. It was under the non-prof­it umbrel­la of David Brower’s “Earth Island Insti­tute”, and was fund­ed by Jer­ry Gar­cia and the Rex Foun­da­tion, Tides and local fundrais­ers held in people’s hous­es. Per­form­ers join­ing me includ­ed Mimi Fari­na, Maria Mul­daur, and Roy Rogers. Author of “Wit­ness To War…A Doc­tor in El Sal­vador” Char­lie Clements spoke about human rights. Hun­dreds of free copies were dis­trib­uted to human rights orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al.

1 Comment

  1. Wally Messmore says: | Reply

    Thanks for men­tion­ing my father, Wal­ly Mess­more, in your sto­ry. I lost that won­der­ful man who loved his “Lit­tle Wal­ly” 35 years ago. I miss him as much today as I did 35 years ago. It’s nice to find his mem­o­ry on the web every now and then.

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