1971. Pete Sears in John Cipollina’s antique gun room at his house on King Street in Mill Valley.


1971 Pete Sears in John Cipollina’s antique gun room at his house on King Street in Mill Valley.

Pho­to tak­en by Michael Moore.

This is right after I fin­ished play­ing the “Long John Baldry” USA tour. I came up to San Fran­cisco from Los Ange­les to start the band John and I had talked about form­ing before I left “Stone­ground”; before I left to fly to Eng­land to record on Rod Stewart’s “Every Pic­ture Tells A Story”.

When I arrived at John’s house he had already cho­sen most of the musi­cians, and we began rehears­ing at the old white “Quick­sil­ver” house up on the hill in Corte Madera. Ron Polte man­aged us. It took a while for John to come up with the band name, “Cop­per­head”. Ron bought us a car each at a gov­ern­ment auction…I got an old brown Ply­mouth V8 that went like a bat out of hell. I slept in John’s gun room for a while…wish I still had that jack­et in the photo.
We’d lie on John’s bed and try and shoot down his Christ­mas tree hang­ing by a piece of string over the stairwell…with a cou­ple of 22’s. I’m not rec­om­mend­ing this behav­ior however
smile emoticon

We had a lot of fun at that house…driving around in John’s old Dodge Dart; meet­ing up with John God­dard of Vil­lage Music, or check­ing out Char­lie Deal’s lat­est gui­tar made from a toi­let seat. Some­times the Vil­lage of Mill Val­ley would close off the down­town area and hold a rock con­cert out­side the “Old Mill Tavern”…or occa­sion­ally in Boyle Park…this prob­a­bly wouldn’t hap­pen today.

I cleaned up one of John and his girl­friend Jan’s down­stairs rooms and brought my girl­friend Lucy over from Eng­land. We lived in that room for a while, but even­tu­ally rent­ed a small house in Fair­fax up the hill from Van Morrison’s place…Jim McPher­son lived in the house above us.

Jim and I used to race home after rehearsals to see whether it was faster to go through San Rafael or stay on Sir Fran­cis Drake to get to Fairfax…we nev­er real­ly came up with a defin­i­tive answer. Who cares?
Mill Val­ley was still a rel­a­tively undis­cov­ered vil­lage in 1971. It used to be a Mill Town and was full of col­or­ful old hous­es nestling amongst giant Red­wood trees. Most peo­ple could afford to rent, or even buy a house in Mill Val­ley back then. Strug­gling young artists, poets or musi­cians would live next door to wealthy attor­neys, old mon­ey, rock stars, philoso­phers or per­haps a well known author or two.
It was before peo­ple work­ing in San Fran­cisco dis­cov­ered they could com­mute to Mill Val­ley and live in this beau­ti­ful lit­tle vil­lage sit­ting at the base of Mount Tamalpias. That real­iza­tion grad­u­ally pushed prop­erty prices up, even­tu­ally reach­ing obscene levels…forcing out many elder­ly peo­ple who could no longer afford the ris­ing prop­erty taxes.
Although old Mill Val­ley fix­tures like Varney’s hard­ware store, where John used to buy his ammu­ni­tion or Lockwood’s drug store have been replaced by ritzy cloth­ing stores or art galleries…Mill Val­ley still retains some of the charm that attract­ed peo­ple in the first place. I have many hap­py mem­o­ries of Jean­nette and me lat­er bring­ing up both our chil­dren in Mill Val­ley after I joined Jef­fer­son Star­ship in 1974. We got mar­ried in 1975 and bought our first house on Cas­cade Canyon in 1976…just down the road from the famous “Sweet­wa­ter” club. Our son Dylan was born in 1977 and our daugh­ter Natal­ie in 1983. I used to walk Dylan as a baby down to “Three Wells” in a lit­tle seat slung on my back. I’d some­times meet up with a neigh­bor who would do the same with his lit­tle boy…we had some won­der­ful walks togeth­er. Jean­nette and I recent­ly recon­nected with him and his wife Em at a mutu­al friend’s house. It turns out his name is Mar­tin Cruz Smith and he was writ­ing the famous nov­el “Gorky Park” around the time of our walks. I loved that book when it came out, but hadn’t real­ized it was the same fellow.
Jean­nette and I no longer live in Mill Val­ley. Many hap­py mem­o­ries there.
We recon­nected Mar­tin and Em recently…turns out we live in the same town.