2005. July 29th. Tribute to Chet Helms. Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, California.
I spoke with Chet while he was very ill in his hospital bed not long before he passed away. Although he was very concerned about his health, as he had been for quite some time, he was at that point optimistic that he would be back home shortly. However, he was worried about several debts that were building up; including his rent…he just didn’t have the funds to pay them.
I asked him if he minded if I, Roger McNamee and the Flying Other Brothers host a benefit concert at the Great American Music Hall to help him out.
He was very grateful and gave us his blessings to proceed. Roger spoke with Bay Area poster artists, I met with Dawn Holliday and the staff at the GAMH and it all seemed doable…so I began calling up musicians and working out who would play what and when.
It was going to be billed as a fundraiser for Chet…but tragically he never left the hospital and soon passed away. When Chet died we were well into the planning stages and many musicians had already agreed to perform, so we decided to turn it into a combination benefit and tribute show, with Kathy Peck from H.E.A.R. organizing an online auction. The evening was a great success musically and financially, and we gave all the money raised directly to Chet’s brother John and family as well as paying off his landlord…something Chet had been very concerned about.
The show sold out within a few hours unfortunately leaving many people outside unable to get in.
But the free concert in the Golden Gate Park put on by Boots Houston a short time later had room for everyone and was also a great success; a wonderful tribute to Chet…I played with Jefferson Starship, Nick Gravenites, and Country Joe McDonald that day. It was a sad time…Chet was a good friend and a wonderful fellow, whose style of promoting shows at the Family Dog and Avalon helped define the “Summer of Love” generation.
Some of the musicians who performed that night at the Great American Music Hall:
T Bone Burnett, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, David Nelson, Country Joe McDonald, Leigh Stephens, Bobby Vega, Joli Valenti & Friends and the “Flying Other Brothers”.
The $50 admission price also included a package of limited edition posters designed by such artists as Stanley Mouse, Wes Wilson, Chris Shaw, and Alton Kelley.
Thanks to Roger Mcnamee. — with Country Joe McDonald, Chet Helms, Leigh Stephens, Mickey Hart, Nick Gravenites, Bob Weir, Jefferson Starship, T Bone Burnett, David Nelson and Moonalice.