Introducing the Chet Helms Biography Project

A year or so before he passed away, Chet finally decided to write his autobiography. He began looking around for a suitable collaborator and in mid-November 2004 he “interviewed” a Bay Area writer. The interview, which should surprise no one who knew him, consisted entirely of a spellbinding 2 ½ hour Chet monologue, during which he said several times that he wanted “to set the record straight.” A month later, Chet asked the writer to help him tell his story and they began talking about strategy, a work schedule and Chet’s vision of his book.

Unfortunately, and ultimately tragically, Chet’s mounting health problems prevented the project from proceeding very far

Now that Chet has shuffled off this mortal coil and is no longer available to tell his story, it is up to us to do it for him. And Chet’s story is out there, scattered far and wide. It is in photographs, letters, emails and documents. It is on audio tapes and video tapes, and it is in the memories of countless people who were fortunate enough to have found themselves in his unique orbit, whether for a few hours, a few years, a few decades or a lifetime.

We invite anyone who wishes to share with the world any material that was part of the fabric of Chet’s life to contact:

The Chet Helms Biography Project
Greg Hoffman
Authorized Biographer


Sunday, October 30
10 am to 5:30 pm
Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

The concert and webcast was a huge success! Thanks to everyone who came out to honor Chet.

Excerpts available here

Comments from the guestbook are below.

Chester Leo Helms
August 2, 1942 - June 25, 2005

Chet's ashes are interred at
San Francisco Columbarium

1 Loraine Court
off Anza, west of Stanyan
Richmond District
San Francisco
Top Floor

Weekdays 10am-5pm
Weekends 10am-2pm

The San Francisco Columbarium is operated by
The Neptune Society

I first met Chet along time ago in I host a radio show on the FM that streams on the web as well...with this music...and vibe...This a world of Spirit...Chet, thank you...Dan Wargo 'The Stone Age'KHSU-FM 90.5...Wednesdays at on Schedule and then on 'The Stone Age' Electric Music from the last Century...Seminal Sounds from the 60's and 70's...Music that doesn't die .

  Daniel Wargo  of Arcata, CA USA  on Tuesday, February 07, 2006 at 11:27:33 (CST)  
I first met Chet in the late 70s/early 80s when my Austin,TX-based rock group The Explosives was playing SF and all around the Bay Area. Our SF-based manager was friends with Chet. I had managed to stay in touch with him all these years. Last year, I was nominated to be inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame. I contacted Chet via e-mail and asked for his vote. He e-mailed back to tell me he had voted for me and I'm so glad I printed out and kept that e-mail! I treasure it. He was one of the greats.

  Freddie Steady Krc  of Austin, TX USA  on Tuesday, February 07, 2006 at 10:56:08 (CST)  
My favorite memory of Chet .... My good friend Stu Blank was dying of cancer and a huge benefit for Stu was thrown at the Galleria in San Francisco. Most of the folks I've played music with were there to honor and visit with Stu. It was a very special evening. When the wires were being rolled up, the doors closed and most of the crowd gone,a few of us visited relating old stories of working with Stu and the passing scene. George Mickalski asked me if I would mind giving Chet a ride home. At the time, I was driving an old '67 VW Camper. Chet climbed in the back, and immediately smiled that benevolent grin and produced a joint from his pocket. We drove around awhile, smoking, and talking about the old Haight music scene. I initially met Chet while playing in the Charles Biscuit Band, and Chet remembered us playing a lot at the Shady Grove Cafe. Chet encouraged me to keep playing music, not to ever give up. He said playing music, living with music inside us brought us closer to the Creator than anything else we could do on the planet. When he climbed out the back, he joked, "Thanks for the Trip". I think about that evening when I think about Chet. R.I.P.

  Dave Jess  of San Francisco, Ca  on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 at 14:08:44 (CST)  
Chet, I find myself talking to you almost daily. I met you first in 1969 and the moment we met there was a connection that has lasted all these years. I opened an Art Gallery in Moscow, Idaho in 1996 and before I opened it I called Chet at Atelier Dore to ask if he would be in his shop on Monday because I was flying down to bring him a gift. You could see the smile on his face over the phone. No one had ever said they were flying in to give him a gift. I matted and framed one of his Avalon posters to give him and I wanted him to bless my gallery that I was going to open. He raised his hand and made the sign of the cross. My framing shop and gallery has been open ever since but it only supports itself and not me. I work a full time job on top of the gallery to support me. I was planning with Chet to do a benifit for Chet here in little Moscow, Idaho this year. I called Chet to ask him something and someone else answered the phone. Chet had a stroke. I drove to San Francisco to visit him at the Pacific Med Center and I called on June 25th to make arrangements for the visit and ... I was told that Chet had passed away that same day. I wept like a child. I went home. Chet was gone!!!! When I got home I received an e-mail from Johnny Helms mentioning Chet's Memorial concert at the Great American Music Hall. I clicked on the site that Johnny had sent me and I immediately saw "Sold out thank you". I e-mailed Johnny and let him know that I would like to attend and asked if he could get me in. He said I was on his guest list. I also asked if he could put me up for the night. He responded by saying that he had a small couch and that I was welcome to use it. I flew to S.F. and rented a car and went to Johnny's basement apartment. Johnny is like a walking mirror of Chet. When we talk on the phone I feel like I am talking to Chet. Johnny and I went to the Chet Fest together, just the two of us. The next day Johnny told me that he was asked by numerous people whether I was his other brother Jimmy, because we had arrived together. I visited Chet twice at the Columbarium where his ashes are interred. He will always be with me. Johnny, I want to thank you.

  Darryl Kastl  of Moscow, Idaho USA  on Friday, December 16, 2005 at 04:31:38 (CST)  
thanks for all that you have done

  mike kelley  of tamp florida for now, fl usa  on Thursday, December 01, 2005 at 14:19:28 (CST)  
What a long strange trip its been !All of our love to Chet and the family.

  larry huber and marcia  of edison , , wa usa  on Thursday, December 01, 2005 at 00:10:40 (CST)  
I met chet when I first started playing for Merl Saunders in the 80s and always loved his style of business. In fact I think a lot of young dot commers coined his style in their companies, that is relaxed, easy going and deeply committed to giving people creative space to accomplish your goals. I also appreciate his helping to launch our careers in the 90s by booking us time and time again all over the San Francisco scene. He used to corner me at the Haight Street Fair, asking me to stop by his studio to view the candid photograph he shot of me in the Merl days. We were always on the tour and quite busy then. Now I wish I had stop by. His memorial to us and our tribute to him (all for free) was an appropriate send off and release for all of us. They'll be new promoters and artisians that will follow and some will look back and hopefully follow in Chet's footsteps. Bless you chet

  Michael Warren  of Richmond, CA USA  on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 at 20:55:54 (CST)  
I don't know what I did or what I said at those concerts, but I wouldn't have missed them for the world!

  S.K. Waller  of  on Monday, November 28, 2005 at 00:32:35 (CST)  
I remember Chet back in '66 at the Avalon. Me and Jim used to go and watch Quicksilver,Hendrix,BoDiddley,GratefulDEad, IronButterfly and we watched Janis the first time she got on the stage with BigBrother. I was in awe of them all, wanted to be them. Sat in the balcony feeling the luxury, eating acid, smoking joints, and grooving to the flickering lights with the music always there. Always I watched Chet doing his thing - in awe if it all.

  Doris Chapman  of San Rafael, CA USA  on Sunday, November 27, 2005 at 19:42:46 (CST)  
Many happy fun visits at the gallery, lots of tokes, much laughter,great discussions and sharing of ideas. A brilliant collector, knowledgable historian, superb entrepeneur, and dear friend.Chet lives on in our hearts and is immortalized in our history of all that is cool!

  tom fay  of Sacramento, ca sacramento  on Saturday, November 26, 2005 at 13:49:48 (CST)  
This tribute to Chet was the most heart rendering expression of Love that I have experieced in a very long time. As a former Director of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics Rock Medicine Section, I can say that this event truly showed how Love has survived and I know that the thousands of us in attendance at this Tribal Stomp will once again take the energy that we shared on that day to the four corners of the earth to carry on... Thank you for bringing us all together again.

  Robbie Corrado Porter  of Dallas, OR 97338  on Friday, November 25, 2005 at 22:45:01 (CST)  
I performed at the Family Dog venues many times.Chet was a free spirit and a great supporter of music.He will be missed.

  Texas Jake Lee  of dallas, tx usa  on Friday, November 25, 2005 at 15:35:09 (CST)  
i love the site.thank you.

  mugu man  of ohio, usa america  on Thursday, November 24, 2005 at 08:41:13 (CST)  
It was the Family Dog House, 1968 where I had my 19th birthday party. It was after a night at the Avalon. It was a night I shall never forget even though the saying goes "if you can remember the 60's, you weren't there". I do remember the good times at the Avalon, Playland and the Family Dog House. Chet has touched so many lives in a positive way. He will always be remembered and kept in our hearts. Until we meet again Chet, Peace! Gail Hesse

  Gail Cruse  of Santa Cruz, CA USA  on Sunday, November 20, 2005 at 16:35:55 (CST)  
my very first "hippy" concert was in 1967, at the avalon ballroom. i was still in high school in the east bay (Castro Valley), steppenwolf was the headlining band and i don't remember who else was there that night. it was the most incredible and entertaining night of my young life. after the avalon ballroom closed, my favorite place to party was the Family Dog at Playland at the Beach. the place was so laidback and trippy, too, with all those old movies running on the walls and the oil/water blob light shows everywhere. my fondest memory of the family dog was when my friend and i were taking tickets at the door to pay for our way in that night,(her brother was in the family dog production company), and it was a benefit concert for the qsms commune and QuicksilverMessengerService were playing, when jerry garcia and bobby weir came to the door, obviously we didn't make them display a ticket, i was all ga-ga and jerry and bobby were sweet and shook my hand and said hi!. wow! i was in heaven. so..... thanks chet, for some of the best and most memorable days of my life. peace n love sunshine

  sunshine  of central point, or usa  on Friday, November 18, 2005 at 13:24:15 (CST)  
Chet had a lot left to give the world; but the waves of spirit, generosity and quite strength that people like Chet send out, will continue for eternity. Its people like Chet who gives us hope that the human species wont self destruct through the illusion that survival of the fittest applies to brute force, deceit and dishonesty, rather that compassion, caring and a sense of fair play. Chet was quietly sophisticated. Chet always looked to me like a Victorian era world explorer, with his big bushy white beard, white hat and camera strapped around his neck. I found him to have a strong sense of humor, which was never sarcastic, or at anybodys expense. It was more important that all the musicians, artists and staff be paid for the evening than he making a profit... He had tremendous strength of character. May the wind be always at your back. Happy Trails old friend, Pete Sears

  Pete Sears  of San Rafael, CA USA  on Thursday, November 17, 2005 at 17:09:17 (CST)  
Want Chet in the R&R hall of fame

  lpmarechal  of novato, ca usa  on Thursday, November 17, 2005 at 11:54:26 (CST)  
August 1, 1968 at the Great Highway Family Dog...both Chets and Jerrys birthday..I think it was orange sunshine with Albert Collins opening, dancing from the Krishnas from the Berkely temple and then hours of the Dead. I melted that night and was so grateful to have that be my first memory of Chet. HooDoo Rythem Devils, Terry Reid, CatMother, Ace of Cups and all of the other acts I returned to the Dog to see after first having my eyes opened there. So much love was there Kind hearted soul That night I learned to drive home from the dog Thank you, Chet. Bill

  Bill Bischoff  of Modesto, CA  on Saturday, November 12, 2005 at 14:40:16 (CST)  
Just a simple admirer of his work. The world is a better place as a result of both his work and his person.

  Gerry Plant  of Garrison, NY United States  on Thursday, November 10, 2005 at 20:34:28 (CST)  
Your mind and a heart got over the sea. Much Japanese music freak loves Janis and Jimmy.Your light Helped culture of Japanese rock music. Your love changed Japanese music industry.chet, Can you imagine that Janis, Jimmy CD can be found in all the Japanese record store?. Chet, You are True Hippie! rip, Yasu

  yasu  of tokyo, JAPAN  on Wednesday, November 09, 2005 at 14:30:39 (CST)  
OH, It was "A Beautiful Day" in GG Park for the Chet Memorial every sense.... YESSSSSS! My faith, altho not lost, has vastly been renewed! What an awesome and magically beautiful concert. I am touched reading these heartfelt posts in the guestbook CHET LIVES!

  Richard Schuman  of Carmichael, CA  on Tuesday, November 08, 2005 at 16:27:30 (CST)  
I came out to California for a weeks' visit in July 1967; I was a high school kid. Made my grandmother, the sponsor of this trip, drive us down Haight Street, the whole way.. we crept along at about five miles per hour, along with the Gray Line tour buses. The street was jammed with people, incense and assorted was in the air. Later that night we drove by the Great Highway and there was a dance going on; no doubt a Family Dog affair. I couldn't get in, but the impression it left on me was indelible. When I got the opportunity, in '73, I moved out to San Francisco to stay. I had heard a lot about Chet in the meantime, and always appreciated the attitude he brought to the scene. He was truly a rock and roll giant, and responsible for so much of the scene we have enjoyed for decades now. I did meet him once, a few years ago, at Atelier Dore. Just a nice, polite, unassuming guy; you'd never know to see him that he had done so much for music, and the community. I am sad he's no longer with us, but I believe he has gone to his reward, and is reunited with Janis, Jerry and yes, Bill. The memorial in the park was perfect, a great day with so many of the artists whose careers and lives he enriched. I will always remember him. Thanks, Chet!

  Greg Oliva  of Hayward, CA USA  on Tuesday, November 08, 2005 at 00:01:47 (CST)  
I can't begin to express how much the Family Dog means to me. I can't begin to express how much Chet means to me, either. I saw Steve Gaskin at the Stomp last week ... I (voluntarily) pushed a broom at the Beach House (post Avalon) but never really got to know everyone. Yes, indeed ... God's speed Chet ...

  Ed  of Petaluma, Ca USA  on Sunday, November 06, 2005 at 15:04:54 (CST)  
I met Chet once when my friend Lore went to the city to try and sell our art to Family Dog. Chet was frendly, looked at our work and sent us home glowing having been to the mountian. Thanks for years of the best, Gods speed Chet!

  buz hitchcock  of san diego, `ca US  on Sunday, November 06, 2005 at 11:17:11 (CST)  

  RIKKI (NYMAN) DIDIER  of DENVER, CA USA  on Sunday, November 06, 2005 at 00:52:30 (CST)  
My sincere condolances to Chet's family. He was a true catalyst of the 60's renaissance of the greatest music and spirit ever evoked. Without him, we would have never had such experiences and metamorphosis in everything we did and felt and, many years later, the music still holds true to our hearts. It is our responsibility to carry on this 'force' for generations to come, if not for Chet, but for us all. Peace. Jay

  JAY TURNER  of SAN DIEGO, CA USA  on Saturday, November 05, 2005 at 00:30:00 (CST)  

Thank you Chet.

  Corky Siegel  of Chicago, IL USA  on Thursday, November 03, 2005 at 20:16:20 (CST)  
great job. enjoy your walkabout. you earned it. love, -j.k

  jeremy s. kramer  of  on Thursday, November 03, 2005 at 01:32:51 (CST)  
Dear Chetski ! Tigger told me today he misses your red wool "POP ART "sweater to crawl on to . TigTig cried Sunday and wanted you to know he misses your soft warm smile and pets. You were his favorite stomach to curl up to. He asked me if you'd make a metaphysical visit to the gallery! I said, "you have the spirit to do anything you wished now"! Tigger meowed with a wink as ocicats do , knowingly. The intimate moments we shared Chet will never be taken away from us.... those last days were intense , very intense and I'm glad you are on the other side and not in pain anymore. I know that interferion was a hard drug for you to take . Your daily stoic nature hid it well for those that did not know you well. I just wished Joel Selvin had been more aware of ALL your accomplishments rather than call you " haples " . (sorry Joel but you can be a real jerk sometimes) Chet was born in Santa Maria , Ca. by the way, and when his mother became single , she moved the family to Texas and was a school teacher the whole time she raised her boys.. f y i Chet had a very scholarly mind and knew a hell of alot of art history that most people did not realize or know. It never ceased to amaze me the vast esoteric knowledge that came out of "Atelier Dore" in the wee hours of the morning while Chet held court! . Chet did struggle off and on financially but he was a very rich man, he just never hoarded the gold like others. I think perhaps Chet and Moses had alot in common: "I'm a river to my people and that is why I'm a poor man " Chet you were a musical river to many. May that ledgend of yours be captured on film and promoted properly so that generations to come will learn what it means to live with steadfast vision. The rock and roll hall of fame is waiting for you. Boots and TheFamilyDog put together your memorial with class and dignity, how could one not cry in the sea of people that came to send you off. May the whole world know your life ..... in due time. "Sun"day , Oct. 30th 2005 was full of amazing moments , it was perfect, and timeless. You were lucky to have a Judy , so understated all day and friends like Boots; quite the orgainizer, quite a feat in such a short time, something the public did not have privy to from behind the scenes. Magic filled the air all day Sunday, quite a holy day. love ya chetski and will miss you more than you will ever know. famous melissa and tigger

  famous melissa  of san francisco, ca usa  on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 at 15:17:17 (CST)  
I watched the memorial online yesterday! Thanks so much for that! I was at monteray pop and was fortunate to cater the tribal stomp with Star Systems/ Madhatters . I just recently bought one of those original handbills on Haight street to frame so i will never forget that great party for Chet. Yesterday I lost the feed to the show. I am hoping there will be a video. Please keep me on the list. I am in Oregon now living on the Family of the Mystic Arts land and also here in Eugene with Sunny Fannin [ Chet will remember her and Johnny ]. We are keeping the LOVE ALIVE whereever we go ! A big hello to Barry Melton too and every one who showed up to honor our beloved Chet. Peace and Love to us all , AKASHA MAKENNA LOVELIGHT aka didi

   DIDI AKASHA  of Eugene , Ore US  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 20:36:50 (CST)  
It was really a groovy day at the park Sunday. I think that is what it was supposed to be all about and was for awhile.. Peace and Love, -Louis

  Louis LeFrak  of  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 19:50:17 (CST)   I was lucky to grow up in the late 60's and experience my very first light show at the Avalon Ballroom by no other than Chet Helms and the Family Dog. I was mesmerized! The family dog continued to provide wonderful entertainment and concerts. THANK YOU

  sally  of Burlingame, ca usa  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 18:01:06 (CST)  
Thanks and condolences, to all the great musicians and others involved at Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park - Great show everybody! - heartfelt.. I had so much fun it hurts (today). What a crowd! Thanks for your thoughts everybody - ask me about my audio clips -

  Shiney Mike  of San Francisco, Ca  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 17:25:46 (CST)  
he could lite up a room with his smile. He was a lite beacon a mong us his lite shone brighter than anyonr i knew his smile will truly be missed i will allways feel him love to you allways mellody belyea gannon

  mello gannon  of berkeley, cal us  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 15:50:59 (CST)  
ive always loved the music, but ive never been to a free concert in gg park b4 you guys are great. if ya need help with anything, lemme know

  Riki Chen  of san francisco, ca usa  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 15:48:53 (CST)  
VERY nice concert yesterday (Sunday Nov. 30th, @ Speedwaty Meadows at the Park). Boots, it would have made Chet proud and happy. Chet was a friend of mine in life, and I mourn his death. Ther'll never be another Chester --- he truly cared. The world learns, and is greater for, his vision, humanity, kindness and caring. God bless ye, Chester!

  tommyD  of granite bay, CA USA  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 15:01:57 (CST)  
Chet was a great man whom I am lucky to think of as an old friend. I first met him during the 30th anniversary of the summer of love shows that he put together. What an excellent welcome to my new home in the bay area! Next, I think of Chet signing posters at the 1st Bonnaroo and sitting and enjoying hours of stories with history brought alive by it's author and witness. And cherished photos of the moment sent a year after the fact by kind hearted Jay at Flyright studios! Reminders of the old family feeling of the tribe. I think everyone cherished their time that was shared with Chet at that site, both old and the young who had not even been born when Chet brought Janis Joplin out from Texas... In recent years, I had the pleasure of sharing Chet's company at the Hep Cats show, at dinner, and in his home and continued to be amazed at how great it felt just to be near his space. A true Southern Gentleman and Elder who really had something to say! But he said it through HIS WAY! His way of speaking and sitting silent and always the kind word. The sparkle in his eye and the appreciation acknowledging the smallest gesture. And Humble , though the end. But always sharing his Love and his Beauty with anyone who would come his way. I feel greatly honored to know this elder statesman of a generation who helped the entire world find a better way. God Bless you CHet and May your soul fly free. And Thank you for bringing everyone together a final time in the park in honor of your passing. ....on 10/30/05 at the Chet Helms Tribal Stomp... Showing that the thoughts and traditions you started are not only alive but have grown ever stronger. Condolences to your family, and your brother John. Thank you for inspiring me and so many others to keep the spirit strong! We Love You Chet Helms!

  Milton Rosenberg  of Venice, CA USA  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 14:09:07 (CST)  
A first class human being that invariably encouraged others.

  Anthony Owen&n Love You Chet Helms!

  Milton Rosenberg  of Venice, CA USA  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 14:09:07 (CST)  
A first class human being that invariably encouraged others.

  Anthony Owen  of McKinleyville, CA USA  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 14:01:58 (CST)  
Thanks to everyone for the amazing energy that went into making the Chet Helm's Tribal Stomp the wonderful event Chet would have wanted. All day, I felt like any moment I would see him there with the beatific smile he always wore - and a cool necktie. Chet's influence was profound, going far beyond the impact of the music he promoted. He will be remembered in the true message of the "hippies." Not sex, drugs, and rock and roll. But peace, love, and kindness to all living things . . .

  Lesa  of Mill Valley, CA  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 13:55:50 (CST)  
I remember the dance concerts at the Avalon to be a lot more laid back and friendlier than the ones at the Filmore. I think it was because of Chet Helms. He seemed to enjoy the sceen as much as he enjoyed putting them on, you can't say that about the "other" guy. It felt like you were part of the Family Dog when you were there. Thanks Chet.....God Bless

  Larry McCoy  of Prunedale, Ca USA  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 12:37:46 (CST)  
What a beautiful day for a one of a kind musical hero to all of us! We had a wonderful time!

  Craig Wright  of Windsor, CA Sonoma  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 11:24:53 (CST)  
You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. I was a bit too young to make it to the Avalon. The Great Highway vibe was so different and so much better than Fillmore West. The Tribal Stomps were so comfortable. I'm grateful that Chet's energy enabled Boots, et al, to do it again yesterday. I love, and miss the euphoria.

  Bob Griffin  of Sonoma, CA USA  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 10:46:33 (CST)  

  beast  of boulder creek, ca  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 10:21:49 (CST)   My life is a better one because of you - and that is what life is about. Thanks. I am not too far behind you so look for me. Terry

  Terry McDermott  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 09:54:09 (CST)  
I remember a few years ago I had read Chet had died, and then I met him, last year at the TRPS show..I asked him about his "death" and he laughed it off saying it was a joke a buddy of his had done...He brought a lot of joy and happiness to countless numbers of people....Uncle Bobo and Jer will be happy to see you and the rest of us will miss you

  K D GOLDSBERRY  of Las Vegas, NV  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 03:25:00 (CST)  
We did not know of Chet and his fantastic legacy prior to today (10-30-05), but we were in S.F. for our 25th Anniversary and on our way to Ocean Beach on the 5 Fulton MUNI bus this morning when told of the concert. We were so very lucky to have met Chet's brother, Johnny Helms, at the Speedway, and even moreso to have found out about Chet, about his life and about his tribute concert. Our 21-year old son, Ben, sponsors jam sessions back home, just as Chet did when he first started out, and we have made sure that he has found out about Chet as well. May Chet's unconditional love of music live on always, and our deepest sympathies to all his family and his very many friends. - the Kumlers

  Norm & Terri Kumler  of New Cumberland, PA USA  on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 01:37:52 (CST)  
What a beautiful day it was today for YOU, Chet! You deserved all the wonderful vibes that were flowing today in the Park-that old feeling was really there for everyone-Thanks for the memories...

  mary applegarth  of san anselmo, ca  on Sunday, October 30, 2005 at 23:40:38 (CST)  
Thank you, Chet, for the music and the good times. Shine on!

  Dozo the Clown  of Richmond, CA USA  on Sunday, October 30, 2005 at 15:16:41 (CST)  
Dana's taking his kids to the Park to hear the music and play in memory of Chet.

  Dana Porteous  of Novato, CA USA  on Sunday, October 30, 2005 at 13:55:26 (CST)  
I used to see Chet around; at the double rainbow cafe, at the coffee place I can't remember the name of on maybe sutter with the sign with the coffee cup with people in it, on the street etc. I loved him for the things he's done and his giving spirit even though I didn't personally know him and have never spoken to him. I used to want to talk to him at the cafes and maybe ask him for a job but I never did. I'd just smile respectfully if he looked my way. He was a man who was more driven by noble ideas than money and we could use a whole world of people like him. He is an example to us all. Nator of Oakland

  Curtis "Nate" Thomas  of Oakland, CA United States of What the Hell's Going On!  on Sunday, October 30, 2005 at 13:45:57 (CST)  
Great times at the avalon and...beyond the great gig in the sky.... PEACE&LOVE..AND MORE PEACE

  pog green--TOTM  of S.F., CA USA  on Sunday, October 30, 2005 at 13:01:17 (CST)  
RIP brother you will be missed

  John  of San Francisco, California USA  on Sunday, October 30, 2005 at 12:01:03 (CST)  
Chet, see you at the last Gathering of the Tribes... Bob PS- May ants crawl up John Whooley's nose.

  Bob Simmons  of Austin, Texas USA  on Sunday, October 30, 2005 at 11:08:27 (CST)  
I'm not too far behind you;save me a spot.

  Jack Gill  of San Francisco, CA  on Saturday, October 29, 2005 at 23:18:40 (CDT)  
What a wonderful guy! He will be missed but will join us in spirit tomorrow at Speedway Meadows!!

  Lisa Haupt  of Livermore, CA 94551  on Saturday, October 29, 2005 at 22:43:26 (CDT)  
Chet, You were a patient and thoughtful mentor to a young boy in a hurry. I will miss you.

  Tony Maldonado  of San Francisco, CA  on Saturday, October 29, 2005 at 21:50:47 (CDT)  
Aloha, Chet, whom I knew only through the grace and generous spirit of his daughter Sarah. Sarah, I've been thinking af you all summer, since I happened to be in the City when Chet passed. Drop me a note sometime.

  Ragnar Carlson  of Kailua, HI  on Saturday, October 29, 2005 at 19:56:00 (CDT)  
Good bye's been a long, lively road...sprout your wings and fly with the best of 'em...

  Barefoot Bob  of Cabot, Vt USA  on Saturday, October 29, 2005 at 18:22:13 (CDT)  
Thanks Chet, What strange long trip its been ;) see you Sunday...

  Jeff  of Madrid, IA Usa  on Saturday, October 29, 2005 at 16:43:06 (CDT)   Born and raised in San Francisco(38th and Judah) I was just a tot when the first gathering of the Tribes happened. I remember walking up Lincoln to the fields and being amazed at the number of freaks just like me. I was at school when we went every weekend to the Avalon, standing in those long lines on Sutter st.It was so great when we finally got in, and they handed out the glow in the dark chalk to draw on the floor.

  Europa  of Los Angeles, Ca usa  on Friday, October 28, 2005 at 16:59:17 (CDT)  
Thankyou Chet for all the good times you provided for us at the Avalon! Truly the Family dog was a family with you as the father figure!

  Fayden Holmboe  of Half Moon Bay, California  on Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 22:53:25 (CDT)  
Chet was one of the good guys. He will be greatly missed.

  Zunk Buker  of New London, NH USA  on Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 10:36:08 (CDT)  

  MAGA  of NY, NY USA  on Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 04:30:05 (CDT)  
Chet, dear man that you always were to me, You lead the pack and Bill Grahm, Bill Morgan and The Rest of Us brothers and Sisters did all we could to live up to your example. Thanks for the Best of Times and your giving Lifestyle.

  Barbara Moore  of Malibu& Sonoma, Ca. USA  on Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 02:20:34 (CDT)  
You will be truly missed, rest in peace . . .

  Maria Collins  of Los Gatos, CA USA  on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at 16:30:10 (CDT)  

  ronnie fast   of traveller,  on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at 10:15:59 (CDT)   i had known Chet since i was about 13 years old. My friends and i used to sneak in through the bathroom window at the Family Dog and i saw my hero Marc Bolan of T.Rex when i was about 14 (i think) at Family Dog when it was at Ocean Beach. i then met Chet as an adult and became friends with him after he studied massage. i was a new single mom and knowing Chet meant a lot because he was so gentle and kind; he was so generous with his soul and i had been through a rough time and he helped me to heal. It is amazing that it must of been over 27 years ago. Time flys. i was touched by his sweetness and we would run into each other and sad to say he would invite me to his gallery and i was always so busy i only got to see it one time.Now i wished i had spent more time with him. The last time we saw one another was at a "Sea of Dreams" Valetine party 2003? Every time we would run into each other, it was a happy happy time to see him. So dear sweet Chet many blessings on your new journeys and may we meet again my friend. In my heart always, eileen vigil carey

  eileen vigil carey  of pacifica formerly of Fairfax & S.F, ca usa  on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 at 23:31:36 (CDT)  
I only met Chet once, but the Big Brother was a revolution for me. As a young child I remember listening to them pratice musice in the little town of Lagunitas, California. My father would call the sheriff dept because of the loud noise, myself, I loved every note, every bar of the music and Cet was the begining of a revolution that I feel started in the Bay Area back in the 60's. thanks Chet for making a difference in our lives and bring us some of the greatest musicians that were and will ever be. Sweet Dreams Dear Prince.

  Theresa Ingersoll  of Prescott Valley, AZ USA  on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 at 20:52:26 (CDT)  
We have lost another of Rock N' Rolls ledgens. I will miss him and hope that his family has peace.

  Kenneth Hutchins  of Prescott Valley, AZ USA  on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 at 20:16:42 (CDT)  
To Chet's Family, He left a legacy for many to remember and will be missed. He became synonomous with the music that changed our country. James

  James Parker  of new braunfels, tx usa  on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 at 10:46:31 (CDT) were a Gentleman in every sense of the word. You are very much missed and very much remembered. Rock On!

  Marc Margolis  of Oakland , CA  on Monday, October 24, 2005 at 18:38:30 (CDT)  

  Timothy Speirs  of Bend, OR USA  on Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 15:27:58 (CDT)  
Thanks Chet for all the great talents you reconized and helped since the 60's. Your love of music has and will continue to let the world remember "Chet Helms". For me I would like to say thank you for Big Brother, Janis Joplin (I wish I could have seen them, I so enjoyed the guitar leads and Janis vocals that no one can touch), and yes, Dan Hicks and the hot licks (crazy cool songs). Peace

  Kaye Walden  of Sunnyvale, CA USA  on Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 13:34:52 (CDT)  
I didn't know Chet in SF. I knew him in Austin and may have been a part of his coming to SF. He & I were part of a group of folks working against segregation and the war in Vietnam in 1962. I just came across a couple of old photos of my 1962 SF wedding and there was a clean shaven, short haired Chet in a suit & tie. He joined about 8 others at my home for dinner every night in Austin Jan-May, 1963 where we enjoyed each other's company, discussed philosophy and politics and ate cheap meatless meals I prepared. Everyone chipped in $5/week and I borrowed a car every Monday to shop for our food. Anyway, I loved Chet. He was thoughtful and kind and great fun. I returned to SF & he came out with Janice later in 1963 (I think) Around that time, I had had a sad encounter with a dear friend who became quite well known as a member of a famous SF rock group. This "friend" had been best man at my wedding, but told me in no uncertain terms that he wanted nothing to do with anyone in his former life as he was certain that we all wanted his newly acquired wealth. Because of this, I never contacted Chet, but watched from afar his lovely contributions to the culture of my native city, SF. I often wanted to call him or later to drop in on his gallery, but never did. I like to think that because we got him out for our wedding in 1962 and that I constantly expressed my deep desire to go home to SF during my time in Austin whetting his appetite by telling him what a beautiful scene was happening there that he made the move. Who knows. When I knew Chet my name was Sandi Roodin Laughlin.

  Sandra Morey  of Oakland, ca 94602  on Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 13:19:57 (CDT)  
I didn't know Chet in SF. I knew him in Austin and may have been a part of his coming to SF. He & I were part of a group of folks working against segregation and the war in Vietnam in 1962. I just came across a couple of old photos of my 1962 SF wedding and there was a clean shaven, short haired Chet in a suit & tie. He joined about 8 others at my home for dinner every night in Austin Jan-May, 1963 where we enjoyed each other's company, discussed philosophy and politics and ate cheap meatless meals I prepared. Everyone chipped in $5/week and I borrowed a car every Monday to shop for our food. Anyway, I loved Chet. He was thoughtful and kind and great fun. I returned to SF & he came out with Janice later in 1963 (I think) Around that time, I had had a sad encounter with a dear friend who became quite well known as a member of a famous SF rock group. This "friend" had been best man at my wedding, but told me in no uncertain terms that he wanted nothing to do with anyone in his former life as he was certain that we all wanted his newly acquired wealth. Because of this, I never contacted Chet, but watched from afar his lovely contributions to the culture of my native city, SF. I often wanted to call him or later to drop in on his gallery, but never did. I like to think that because we got him out for our wedding in 1962 and that I constantly expressed my deep desire to go home to SF during my time in Austin whetting his appetite by telling him what a beautiful scene was happening there that he made the move. Who knows.

  sandra Morey  of Oakland, ca 94602  on Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 13:18:06 (CDT)  
All my heroes are crossing over to the other side...Bill Graham, Jerry and now Chet. I miss the energy, the vibes & the compassion of those heady days! I will be at "The Stomp" to honor your memory Chet. Call it a pilgrimage for that is exactly what it is! Peace & Love, if ever the world needed it more. As the Family Dog used to say, "May the sweet baby Jesus, shut your mouth and open your mind." Thanks for the memories, brother.

  Joe Halpen  of Reedley, CA USA  on Thursday, October 20, 2005 at 02:25:27 (CDT)  
Thank you Chet for making our lives a little better. You will be sorely missed

  Craig J. Johnson  of Flagstaff, AZ  on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 at 20:32:00 (CDT)  
Will be attending the "Tribal Stomp" in a few weeks in Golden Gate Park to help honor you memory. You were a pioneer in the early days of the movement. I will always remember the Family Dog, the music, posters and all of the contributions you made to the San Francisco scene. Rock on brother, long may you run. Peace & Love (as we hippies used to say).

  Douglas A. Schwartz  of Santa Rosa, CA USA  on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 at 16:09:41 (CDT)  
Chet and Family: Miss him too much and my deepest sympathy for his passing over us never to be forgotten. Donna Funicello, Friend of Chet's

  Donna Funicello  of Tiburon, CA Marin  on Sunday, September 18, 2005 at 17:39:52 (PDT)  
Oct. '66 Avalon .. QMS, Congress Of Wonders, Steve Miller.. Acid Prohibition just took effect, long after the effects had transformed everything.. Too Late, Jack Webb.. Chet did it His Way.. Sometimes chaotic.. Sometimes Incredible.. Always integrating the elements as no one else did.. Thanks, Chet.. You were there when we needed you, And it never got better than that.

  RC Stilwell  of Noti, Or USA  on Sunday, September 18, 2005 at 10:10:34 (PDT)  
The name "Chet Helms" and "Family Dog" brings back memories of events and music that were a part of my life and my generation and not just a business.

  David Jardin  of Gilroy, Ca USA  on Thursday, September 15, 2005 at 12:48:40 (PDT)  
i was very happy to get to know chet a little in recent years,through his wonderfull family-sarah and judy .though i was a little lost for words at first- as a former light-weight music promoter and music-lover- chet was the gracious southern gentleman,and over-all gentle-person.some would say he spoke of himself a lttle too often-but i was a willing listener.he was one of the key people of my generation . the planet and our spiritually-starved culture was a better place because of his life. hope to see you all in the park on oct.30th !

  rich rollison  of brooklyn, ny usa  on Thursday, September 15, 2005 at 06:34:31 (PDT)  
Chet didn't know me by name but, being the approachable guy he was, we talked several times over the years at various venues, the last being at the Avalon a while back at one the shows put on by Morning Spring Rain. He noticed my Family Dog shirt, smiled, and greeted me. I asked him what he thought of all this (the Avalon gig)now some 40 years later. He jokingly said "I'd have to charge you $500 an hour to tell ya". I'll miss Chet, but will always feel good when I think about all the magic he brought.

  Jim Davis  of Hayward, CA USA  on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at 14:22:15 (PDT)  
The ultimate 'Big Brother' to all us lost kids in the big bad bay area. Let's all get it together at the meadow in the park & celebrate the spirit of *LOVE*PEACE*HAPPINESS*. October 30th 2005.

  Michael Liberty Rainbow  of Bellflower, CA USA  on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 16:50:48 (PDT)  
i had a splendid time and learned a lot because of chet. thankyu

  Brian Moon  of san diego, ca usa  on Monday, September 12, 2005 at 09:58:03 (PDT)  
You are deeply missed, my good friend. I will always be thankful to you for letting me do one of the posters and handbills for the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Summer of Love. You helped with my art career so much. I miss the afternoons just sitting around and chatting at your gallery, Atelier Dore. May the angels bless you in Rock & Roll Heaven. Love ya!!!

  Frank Alan Bella  of Chico, CA USA  on Sunday, September 11, 2005 at 17:14:38 (PDT)  
Thanks for being my friend. Heaven is yet a better place with you there! You will always be no futher than a vision away.

  Bonnie Tomosvary  of Santa Rosa, CA  on Saturday, September 10, 2005 at 11:04:33 (PDT)  
Chet- I only just met you, and now you reserved for my memories. You were a true gentleman, and I very much enjoyed chatting with you and Wavy Gravy. Thanks for all the memories, and recognizing and starting something that is larger than us all. We miss you.

  boognish  of San Francisco,  on Tuesday, September 06, 2005 at 15:37:48 (PDT)  
I was not in San Francisco in the 60s, but like millions of others at the time I wished I were. And I learned about the Avalon Ballroom and Chet Helms, and finally in the 70s was lucky enough to begin collecting the Family Dog Posters.
I met Chet Helms on my last trip to the city, December, 1982, at the Atelier Dore. I didn't really know what to say, so I said, "It's a pleasure to meet a living legend". He laughed, and said, "You're from the South, aren't you?" And gave his own southern provenance. I spent fifteen minutes with him. He put me on the Atelier Dore mailing list.
Chet Helms is a legend, and San francisco and its music would not be what it was in the 60s and what it is today without him. He deserves a statue, though he might be the last to think so.
Randolph Phillips, Shiloh, Ga.

  raandolph Phillips  of Shiloh, GA USA  on Monday, September 05, 2005 at 20:02:20 (PDT)  
chet helms is the most caring and compassionate man throughout humanity to contribute to the love and music in all areas than any other person before or after his time he spent with us.he gave us the most powerful unconditional love the world has ever known.i love, admire and respect chet as his friend and close associate in his gallery and his home.working with him was always a joy and learning expierence.i truly love and miss chet with all my heart.i invite all to walk the haight-ashbury to see the flowers.blessings to all.PEACE.LOVE AND HARMONY

  james beckett  of san francisco, calif usa  on Monday, September 05, 2005 at 12:15:55 (PDT)  
chet was so absolutely kind when my 12 year old son needed to step outside the Maritime Hall to get fresh air......he was asthmatic. no trips.....only empathy as my son passed chet and said "i need a breath of fresh air".........he smiled and opened the door. love and light, Bruce

  bruce  of salinas, ca usa  on Sunday, September 04, 2005 at 00:01:40 (PDT)  
Thanks Chet, your an inspiration to all of us. see you later. love, phil salomone

  Phil Salomone  of vista, ca usa  on Saturday, September 03, 2005 at 17:22:17 (PDT)  
God bless you, Chet old friend and brother. I remember your goggly eyes behind those big black-rimmed Buddy Holly glasses and your peacoat with the peace button on the lapel and the your straight long hair the day I met you on the San Francisco post office stairs in the summer of 1962. I remember your smile and gentle voice and humor and engaging manner. How easy it was for you to make friends and yet you were real and earnest in a funny way. We were protesting the resumption of atmosperic nuclear testing and Joan Baez sang and you were on the scene, in the center - as you remained - first in reality and then in our hearts. I remember dumpster diving with you in the Haight Ashbury and finding a scrapbook made by a teenager who had lived there in the 1920s. I remember your short career as a painting contractor when you hired all the hippies at the Page Street Palace to be you painters. And I remember of course meeting you on Haight Street week after week as you made the rounds with an armful of posters advertising the week's event at the Avalon. God bless you forever, dear brother. Now you are gone too.

  Christopher Newton  of Oceano, CA USA  on Saturday, September 03, 2005 at 08:31:05 (PDT)  
I've been fascinated by Chet Helms and the Family Dog for years and their truly inspirational part in shaping not just the San Francisco scene of the 1960s, but in particular apsects of popular culture in general, the reverberations of which are still felt and lived out as an inspiration to many today. I've recently had the pleasure of talking to the road manager of English underground rock band the Deviants, who later mutated into the legendary Pink Fairies, for some research I'm doing on a book about these bands. He told me about the time with great affection and pride how when the Deviants had been stranded in Canada and the US with invalid return flight tickets, the Deviants finally made it that great counterculture music mecca San Francisco, Chet was kindly fed them and put them up at the Family Dog commune. He even got them various gigs in the Bay Area, including a Family Dog night at the Great Highway. Although the band didn't stay at the Family Dog commune during their entire stay in San Francisco, it was Chet who took them in on their arrival and introduced them to the scene. San Francisco was where the band devloped out of the Deviants to become the prototype classic-Pink Fairies line-up. This is one of the significant moments in Deviants / Pink Fairies history. long Live Chet Helms and the Family Dog!

  Rich Deakin  of Cheltenham, England  on Friday, September 02, 2005 at 02:57:29 (PDT)  
I never met Chet Helms. I knew him only from what I read about him. He always stood out for me as one of the true hippies. I am sure that he now resides in a place where his kind, gentle spirit is rewarded with the love it deserves.

  Leonard Grusk  of alexandria, va usa  on Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 06:00:15 (PDT)  
I just hear about the death of Chet. As a former Bay Area resident, I want to say he will be remembered as the first "Bill Graham" of the Bay Area and The Family Dog and bringing Janis Joplin out West. I never met him, but it would have been wonderful to. May you rest in peace brother and thank you for all your contributions to the San Francisco Sound and much more.

  Jay Peterson  of San Diego, CA  on Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 05:45:29 (PDT)  
I was just a 12 year old kid in Brooklyn NY when it all went down at the Avalon Ballroom (I had the Zig-Zag Family Dog poster on my wall at the time and gazed at it often wishing I was there) but I felt the spirit he emanated nonetheless and it led me to SF where I finally had a chance to thank him at the 30th Anniversary of the Summer of Love(I was at the 20th as well). He really did exemplify what Peace and Love were REALLY about. Not a catch-phrase but a daily practice (not always easy). A role model for the ages.
"This morning my best friend
Was sleeping in his bed
His face like a jewel..."

He was a friend of all.

  Jim Greene  of Santa Cruz, CA USA  on Monday, August 29, 2005 at 23:43:46 (PDT)  
Ah-h-h, those magic years now seemingly so long ago, yet still vivid in my memory. Growing up in Half Moon Bay and hitch hiking every weekend up to The City when I couldn't "borrow the car" for Chet's wonderful shows. He turned me on to so many great bands and gave me an eclectic appreciation for ALL styles of music that lives with me to this day. From the strobe lights, light shows, great rock bands and the "old" Fillmore to Big Brother and the Holding Company and Flatt and Scruggs and more at the Avalon Ballroom, to the free concerts at Golden Gate Park and The Youngbloods at the Great Highway. Thank you Chet for changing MY life in a most positive and wonderful way. You touched so many lives my musical brother. God speed and Mahalo and Aloha!!

  Boyd Scofield  of Honolulu, Hawaii USA  on Thursday, August 25, 2005 at 22:11:22 (PDT)  
Just found this page. Don't know if it's the same page I found just after Chet's passing in June and left a message on with a soon-to-be-defunct email address. The messages on this page only go back to July 6, and the one at the bottom is incomplete (no name or anything identifying the poster). Anyway, here I am again. I worked for Chet Helms and the Family Dog at the Avalon Ballroom from Fall of 1966 until the Avalon closed in December of 1968, at first helping out wth the lightshow (Roger Hilliard and Ben Van Meter's North American Ibis Alchemical Company) then as upstairs janitress and lastly in the Coat Check. I lived for a while in a Family Dog House on Bourbin Street where Chet's brother Jimmy and other FD folks lived, across the street from from Alton Kelly, the poster artist, until the SF redevelopment agency tore down all of those lovely old victorians for the "Western Addition Redevelopment Area". Working for Chet and the Family Dog is something I will cherish forever. A favorite image for me is Chet in his pale business suit, long hair flowing down his back, briefcase in hand. Such a fine and gentle person. Chet was the true "father" of San Francisco Rock 'n' Roll. I'm sorry I missed the gig at Great american Music Hall last month. If there are any more memorials or shows, please let me know. I still have lightshow equipment and still do lightshows now and then. PEACE. Linda

  Linda "Kitty" Braskat  of Berkeley, CA USA  on Thursday, August 25, 2005 at 12:08:44 (PDT)  
We will miss you.

  phil gelato  of brookfield, IL usa  on Wednesday, August 24, 2005 at 14:34:57 (PDT)  
I was born in San Francisco and met Chet for the first time in 1970. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of Chet. When he would visit my home we would talk for hours and it would seem like ten minutes. His influence on my life is and will always be tremendous. I live in Idaho now and was on my way from Idaho to San Francisco to visit Chet at the Pacific Med Center when I was told of his passing just hours before I was to arrive. In 1996 I called Chet to ask if he would be in at his Gallery on Monday because I was flying down to bring him a gift. You could see the look on his face over the phone. I framed one of his Avalon posters to give him as a gift. The poster was of a Grateful Dead show and the whole poster was the Family Dog Logo with the Grateful Dead at the top of the poster. My mission was to tell him about the Art Gallery I was about to open and that it would be based on Chet and the Family Dog and to ask for his blessing. He made the sign of the cross and ... He actually blessed my shop! WOW! What an honor to have him do that. The last time we talked I told him that I loved him and he reciprocated. That was just days before his passing. I had the honor of being the guest of his brother John Helms at the Chet Fest. John let me use his couch and we went to the show together. John, if you read this I want to thank you again for your kindness and your loving heart.

  Darryl Kastl  of Moscow, Idaho  on Wednesday, August 24, 2005 at 01:41:38 (PDT)  
As a huge fan of the San Francisco rock era, it was my great pleasure to meet and talk with Chet on three occasions. The first was at the Chet Helms benefit held at Maritime Hall in early may of 1994. Ironically, that very same week, Richard Nixon died. The second time was at his art gallery on Bush St. in September of 1996,while I was again vactioning in San Francisco. I just walked in off the street and asked his secretary if I could talk to him, and Chet was very warm and gracious in receiving me as a visitor. Ironically, that very same week Spiro Agnew died! During our conversation I mentioned that the last time I had visited San Francisco, Nixon had died the same week, and that this time, Agnew had died the same week. He replied "Yeah? Well come back and visit soon!". The third and final time I met him was at the Charlatans reunion show at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley in 1997. He approached me, pointing to the Family Dog logos on my T-shirt and said, "I see you're wearing your colors". Man, I felt ten feet tall! Those were some of the kindest words that anyone ever spoke to me. God bless you, Chet! Farewell! Your memory will never die in my heart!

  Stew  of Rochester, MI USA  on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 at 19:56:53 (PDT)  
I first met Chet in 1968 during some concert in Golden Gate Park. Later, while living across the street from each other on Mullen Avenue, we became good friends. Those were some great times back then, and Chet was clearly instrumental in making the magic of that era happen. I feel honored to have known the man. God bless you, Chet, and may you rest in peace. PS. Does anyone know the whereabouts of his brother, Jimmy? Last I knew he'd moved to Hawaii. Also, does anyone know of a web site where you can try to reconnect with San Francisco friends from the 60's and 70's? I've lost touch with a lot of good people over the years. Drop me an email if you have any information. Peace.

  Michael Dresden  of Sacramento, CA USA  on Friday, August 19, 2005 at 23:17:42 (PDT)  
God Bless Chet....

  Bruce McClelland  of Tucson, AZ USA  on Friday, August 19, 2005 at 17:02:28 (PDT)  
Sorry to have joined this gathering belatedly, but I just heard. I worked with the Family Dog in the late '60s. It was an honor and irreplacable education. Everyone has said things so well that all that I can do is add my voice to those who point out that Chet not Bill represented the true formative spirit of nthe 60's. Thank you for the positive example, it will be carried on. Love and Peace,David

  david  of fort bragg, ca  on Friday, August 19, 2005 at 14:49:21 (PDT)  
Oh, Chet...I didn't know You, but I think You were ideal Human-being. I love Big Brother&The Holding Co., and I know that You were,,daddy" to them...So no matter I haven't met you; I love you!!! lOvE, Maddie P.S.I'm sorry about my English; I'm from Poland... :-)

  Maddie  of  on Friday, August 19, 2005 at 07:21:38 (PDT)  
We will miss Chet. He was a very good friend of ours. God bless hom and keep him safe.

  Jim & Mary Pinchotto  of Folsom, CA USA  on Sunday, August 14, 2005 at 13:50:34 (PDT)  
Thank you for the inspiration.

  Adam Abunai   of NY & Tokyo,  on Friday, August 12, 2005 at 13:04:06 (PDT)  
Chester was my cousin and I remember as a child looking up to him. He was 12 years older than me and I thought of him as a "God". He and I were both brought up in a very religious family and we were both very rebelious, so when he left Texas to go to San Francisco I felt like he had deserted!!!!!!! I was only around 11 or 12 years old, maybe younger, and felt like I was the only "hippie" left here. Well, Chester, you blazed a trail and left me with an insurmountable mountain to climb, but here's to you and all the wonderful memories I have because of you.

  Linda Downs  of Fort Worth, TX U.S.A  on Thursday, August 11, 2005 at 15:21:40 (PDT)  
chet i never knew you but you gave me the best memories of my life at the ballroom thank you

  mike  of san leandro, calif usa  on Wednesday, August 10, 2005 at 18:35:50 (PDT)  
I met CHESTER in 69 and it was easy to see that he had a special gift , A love for everyone. Family Dog Spirit FOREVER. Your Spirit will be with us .

  Capt Bob Lachine  of Grants Pass, OR. USA  on Tuesday, August 09, 2005 at 14:00:33 (PDT)  
Dear Jimmy, I just heard about Chet's passing...I am sad but remembering all the beautiful times in SF and at the Avalon and Family Dog houses know that Chet has just gone ahead of us and we will all meet again someday. Please get in touch if you read this. email me at I would love to talk to you. Love, DD

  Diane Keenan  of Salem, MA USA  on Monday, August 08, 2005 at 20:59:25 (PDT)  
I just heard, Chet, that you have passed on to the other side. Thank you for everything..the beautiful and free Avalon Ballroom, all the wonderful music and all of the many, many other things you were. God Bless. To Chet's family, my thoughts are with you. Jim, if you read this please get in touch with me. I miss you. All my love, Diane

  Diane Keenan  of Salem, MA USA  on Monday, August 08, 2005 at 20:52:21 (PDT)  
Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

  Evelyn  of San Francisco, Ca USA  on Monday, August 08, 2005 at 15:35:47 (PDT)  
Chet and I met when we were both freshmen at UT in 1960. He was a restless and inquiring soul. When I interviewed for Junior Fellow with John Silber, I told him about Chet, that he "liked to talk about philosophy." Silber interviewed him and guaranteed him a Junior Fellowship if he would bring up his GPA. Instead, Chet dropped out of UT and, after a while, hitched to Mexico and then to California with Janis Joplin. After a few years of orienting himself to San Francisco from a $10-a-month room in the Japanese section (I think it was), he became her first manager. I saw him there in 1964 (he gave me my first joint), and again in 1967, when he was producing rock shows at the Avalon Ballroom. While we were there one evening, listening to Janis and Big Brother, one of his henchmen came to announce that Andy Warhol was outside with his party. "Tell Andy and his friends they are my guests," he said grandly. (I think Warhol went over to the other rock venue instead!) I still have under my bed a box full of rock posters he gave me, and on my bookshelf the Look Magazine, January 9, 1968, with a fine Penn photograph of Chet surrounded by his group, the Family Dog. We have stayed in touch over the years. He had a small, fine art gallery in San Francisco where he specialized in African-American and also early California painting. We visited here in Austin at the opening of d"Love, Janis" at Zach Scott. I had never gone, as an undergraduate, to Threadgill's, and only once visited the "Ghetto" where Janis & friends lived up just west of Guadalupe south of 29th Street. At the world premier of the musical, Eddie Wilson, who runs Threadgill's now, brought Chet out to help publicize the show. I got to see him then in an old, familiar role: as the absolute center of journalists, photographers and groupies. Paul thinks we saw him last in San Francisco in the mid '90's. Judy, Paul and I enjoyed dinner at your home with Chet sometime in the early '90's, I believe. Please accept our deepest thanks and gratefulness that you and his brother and his other friends were there to care for him so lovingly as he died.

  Jo Ann Cope Powell  of Austin, TX USA  on Monday, August 08, 2005 at 11:33:50 (PDT)  
Thank you Chet for the memories of the good times... The Avalon, the Family Dog On The Great Highway...The love you showed us all. I will never forget the magic of those days. The music, the lights, the experience.
"We find, after all the years of travel, that we don't take a trip... a trip takes us" - John Steinbeck -

  David Fouch  of Rainier, OR USA  on Saturday, August 06, 2005 at 23:32:29 (PDT)  
The last time I heard Chet's voice, was over a public address system, on the Eel River, a few years back, it was a very hot day. I was surprised. A previous post on this site comments, "glad to see some of you survivors are still on the planet". Well,that pretty much summarizes my feelings, when I heard Chet's voice. I too worked at the Dog on the Great Highway. Actually, I lived in the building. In a small room, sometimes known as the 'Executive Ballroom'. On occasion, Chet would come in and chat. You couldn't fully stand up in the room-closet, but Chet, a bit of an icon in San Francisco, had no problem crawling in, sitting on the floor, and speaking his mind. He was, a "bit flaxy" about finances. Ah, but absolutely incredible, at connecting with local bands, on a personal basis. He had the ability to book a band with a phone call, often below the usual dollar figure required. Which, as mentioned above, was usually a financial necessity. I can't think of a rock band, from the Bay Area, that didn't respond to his request, if at all possible. I enjoyed my experience working for Chester, as much as anything I've ever done. That says alot. I thank him for that. And yes, I even got paid. It seems obvious to me, that Chet's passing, is renewing something positive once again. Reading the variety of thoughts, by so many he touched, says volumes. Volumes about a guy who did something, that added a special touch to the lives of so many. So Chet, you'll always be, special, not bad for someone, who didn't seem to work at it. P.S. After 35 years, a hello to "Bells and Laura".

  Keith Johnston  of Manchester, Ca. USA  on Friday, August 05, 2005 at 20:35:44 (PDT)  
I didn't know Chet personally but I always felt that he was a friend. I went to the Avalon for the first time in June 1966 because a friend thought that it was the one place someone in my condition should be. The bill for the night was "The Quick and the Dead", after that I was there as often as possible. The Avalon Ballroom reflected Chet and the others in the Fmily Dog who put on the best shows in San Francisco but always made you feel like part of the family. When we got married in 1969 my wife and I went out to the FDGH for our honeymoon.

  greg humphrey  of silver spring, md usa  on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 at 18:41:03 (PDT)  
I never did get to meet u but u have been an inspiration for me and who I am today. U will always shine on in my eyes. Peace Love & Happiness

  Jen  of Mt. Morris , MI USA  on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 at 11:49:52 (PDT)  
I never did get to meet u but u have been an inspiration for me and who I am today. U will always shine on in my eyes. Peace Love & Happiness

  Jen  of Mt. Morris , MI USA  on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 at 11:49:42 (PDT)  
I thought of you yesterday as I was listening to some of Janis' letters home I have on a C.D. your name was mentioned and I rememberd I had gotten your web sight from you at bonnarroo 2003. I decided to get on the internet and check it out. I did not know that you had passed on to the other side. I also did not know that Yesterday was your Birthday! What a surprize, and way to show me that you are deffinitly still around! Happy Birthday, and tell Janis I said "hello" !!!

  stephanie kincaid  of Baltimore, Ohio USA  on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 at 11:01:07 (PDT)  
Well, I guess it's past time I checked in here -- glad to see some of you survivors are still on planet. When I worked for Chester at the FDGH, I was "Bells", for the most part. Large quantities of water have passed under many bridges in the interim, and I'd had no direct contact with Chet for a number of years (save an e-mail exchange a few months back about some memorabilia that was being hawked on eBay -- now I can't, for the life of me, find his post and I sure wish I could). But just knowing he was in my world meant a lot. And we who remain are, I think, diminished a bit by his absence. See, not only was Chester a seminal/pivotal influence in the course of the development and evolution of the San Francisco scene, he was also just an indescribably sweet person. A bit flaky around the finances (Bill Graham was the Businessman, not Chet), but a kind and gentle man, a teacher and a leader. And all of that when he was in his mid-20s fer Crissakes! Frankly, I was a bit surprised and disappointed at the minimal media coverage of his death. But I gotta admit, Chet would find his "below the radar" status amusing. He never was a "success" according to the way the straight world kept score. He's gone too young at 62. I'll miss him the rest of my life.

  AC Smith  of Watsonville / Santa Cruz, CA  on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 at 21:16:03 (PDT)  
Happy Birthday Chet! How free it must be to be dead! To have lived and loved, to have facilitated joy, that is a fine, all too rare, mark to leave on this often troubled world. You were a visionary, and the vision endures. We have a long way to go. We will miss seeing you around town, but the important memory of your presence will endure. Welcome to the League of Illustrious Ancestors of San Francisco!  D. A. Wilson, 8/2/05, San Franciso

  D. A. Wilson  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 at 08:20:51 (PDT)  
Chet, You are missed and loved and will not be forgotten. It was my great pleasure to become your friend. I will cherish seeing you at so many parties at my flat and at screenings of my films. Having you present was an indication to me that it was the place to be in SF that night. You were always generous with you time and good energy. Peace be with your soul my friend. The world was a better place because you were here with us. Your spirit will live on with us for a long time. Your friend, Bob

  Bob Sarles  of San Francsico, CA USA  on Monday, August 01, 2005 at 19:59:25 (PDT)  
I first met Chet on the stairway of the Fillmore Auditorium after a Hot Tuna show. I was in awe of his stately appearance and humble mannerisms. I loved hearing his fond recollections 1st meetings with muscicians, especially when it came to Linda McCartney (someone who really counted as a dear friend to him). In recent years it seemed like Chet was at almost every music event which I could make it to in the Bay Area; he must've been out to some sort of show or musician-related event several times a week. God, I always looked forward to seeing him there at the show, with a nod and smile and clicking away with his camera, capturing people on stage whom he obviously adored. Long live the memory of the True Gentleman of the Bay Area Rock and Roll Scene!!!

  Jeff Tucker  of Benicia, CA USA  on Monday, August 01, 2005 at 19:04:54 (PDT)  
I still live in Haight/Ashbury.......Chet came to visit the heads at our flat when he was in the neighborhood.....good vibes always... Family Dog and Chet has done so much for the music... and art-posters I remember in 67 when Alan Cohens Oracle used to have the ads for the blacklight dog was always the coolest... in peace and with love, Bruce ps: if you get a chance, see the "Wickers World" BBC segement on Chet and Haight Ashbury....they actually go out into nature where Chet and a girlfriend take acid

  Bruce A Archer  of San Francisco, Ca. USA  on Monday, August 01, 2005 at 12:15:12 (PDT)  
message: My partner David and I smoked pot with Chet at the Avalon Ballroom while Big Brother played their set. 1967? No, this was October 2002. Chet danced that old hippie dance with his arms in the air making small circles, all this with his pack slung from his shoulder. Harlo from the Cockettes was there too. The name "Chet Helms" registers with me and its gravity I've felt for nearly 30 years when I first started studying the Haight-Ashbury. Meeting him was dreamy, really, and his kindness, Texas-style, was disarming. I asked him if I could interview him about the interface of gays and hippies in San Francisco in the late 1960's. He obliged and he gave me a very thoughtful interview. A really hippie mensch. Regards to all those he touched so deeply. Steven Palmer

  Steven Palmer  of New York, NY USA  on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 20:45:04 (PDT)  
I often wondered what was going on in the head of the guy sitting behind and to the right of me during high school. I had a suspicion that he was biding his time until he could go out and do somethig more iteresting. I could see all the wheels going between his ears but I had no idea of the subject. High school was not a good time for me nor for Chet. At our 40th class reunion we celebrated the fact that we had both taken the 'other road'. The road less taken; "and that had made all the difference." Good by Chester, keep on dancin'

  Dody Fugate  of Santa Fe, NM USA  on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 20:34:42 (PDT)  
R.I.P Chet

  Danielle Seiple  of San Francisco, CA United States  on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 20:13:57 (PDT)  
When I was 19 I went to the Avalon Ballroom for the first time and was Hooked on the San Francisco scene. Fell in love with Quicksiver and spent five years knowing them and loving David Freiberg! He and I spent some wonderful times together and I owe it all to Chet and Family Dog!!! That was and still is the most favorite time of my life. Thank you Chet!!

  Kathie Bell  of Redmond, Wa USA  on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 18:35:47 (PDT)  
We are among the many who were fortunate to have walked along the same road for awhile. Rest easy, you deservs the respite. Peace. Frank

  Frank Polte  of Pine Grove, CA  on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 17:56:30 (PDT)  
Ahhhh talk about magical. Friday night was incredible. I know that Chet was there in spirit. Didn't you all feel him there as I did? The people, the music, the lightshow, the smoke...ahhh, everything was as it should be. I was the one wearing the chet dress. I felt so good making it and wearing it. I felt so good that Judy truly liked it. The posters are incredible. Totally takes me back to the Avalon days.. I will cherish them forever. Roger...thank you for making it all possible for us. I will go talk to chet tomorrow and tell him all about it. Thank you all!

  Linda Appleby  of Mill Valley, Ca USA  on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 14:19:57 (PDT)  

  ANGIE (FROM O.K.C.)  of oklahoma city, ok u.s.a.  on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 03:22:20 (PDT)  
I want to thank all of you who have had such great things to say about Chet helms. He was a person that gave other people a chance to purisue there dreams and Chet made them happen. Chet for years was a person I could call up really late at night and he was always there. Last time me and him spoke was a week before he left us and he told me he could not talk late at night any more.Chet Helms was so money it was not even funny, very humble very funny, and we would not have half of the music today if it was not for him. I am so blessed to have known Chet I miss you bro, god bless and peace mase

  Mase  of sarasota,fl, fl usa  on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 03:11:53 (PDT)  
I will always miss Santa Clause

  Mason Dunn  of sarasota fl, fl usa  on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 02:55:02 (PDT)  
Remembering Chet, who dedicated his life to tame the savageness of man, and make gentle the life of the world. When he shall die Take him and cut him out in little stars And he will make the face of heaven so fine That all the world will be in love with night And pay no worship to the garish sun. From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Peace Always, Larry Oleson

  Larry Oleson  of Kelseyville, Ca. USA  on Saturday, July 30, 2005 at 23:34:30 (PDT)  
Thank you to everyone who took part in the ChetFest! Musicians, poster artists, fans, and crew: you are amazing. It was an event worthy of the man who inspired it . . . I hope just the first of many.

  Roger McNamee/Flying Other Bros  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Saturday, July 30, 2005 at 22:25:07 (PDT)  
Chet and I were pals when he first came to San Francisco in the early '60s. He would come over and talk to me about his girl friends. Then we went to City College coincidentally at the same time in the mid '70s. He was comfortable to hang out with on the lawn with between classes. Then I would run into him at book shows in the '90s. Sorry to see him go.

  Teresa Roberts  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Saturday, July 30, 2005 at 17:42:19 (PDT)  
Anita and I went to the show at Great American last night, a part of history. I always felt that way around Chet, weather it was having a smoke with him at a party, a Freddy Clark show or just on the street, even though he always played that down,to me he'll always be the man that invented the hippie. I gave him (and Robert Alltman) matching stone pipes I gathered on Bolinas beach on his Bday, we smoked in front of studio Z. I first met him at Donna rose and Mark Needhams 1960's party in petaluma, they let me set up the jams, I was introduced to him by bro', Marko Burnardini. 30 seconds into the fist song, Chet was up front and center, taking pictures of me and my autographed telecaster... I was on top of the world. I'll miss him telling me stories of Jimi Hendrix, Family Dog @ Great Highway and of life. A true Gentleman, he will be greatly missed by all... the smoking lamp has been lit, Chet, take it light... Ben and Anita, Marin CA

  Ben Williams  of San Anselmo, CA, via Rockville MD, CA Marin  on Saturday, July 30, 2005 at 12:32:34 (PDT)  
Thanks be for your life. You have touched many and had a tremendously positive impact on the world. The ripples of your thoughts and energy will go on and on. Someday we will all see the waves breaking on the shore.

  Michael Farnham  of St. Paul, MN USA  on Friday, July 29, 2005 at 21:23:54 (PDT)  
Chet, Give Janis A Big Hug For Me!

  Ricky Lanclos  of Port Arthur, TX USA  on Friday, July 29, 2005 at 18:54:47 (PDT)  
When I toured playing bass for Merl Saunders before his stroke, Chet came up to me and told me how much he enjoyed my playing, I was honored and humbled to hear that coming from someone of his stature. we became friends and Ever since then, He came to every show I played with Merl always VERY encouraging to me and an over all GREAT man. I felt a ginuine warmth and sincerity from him that is present in VERY few people in this business. I will miss that about him and all of the support he gave to me and other fellow musicians he came in contact with. We ALL can learn lessons from Chet about humility, Loyalty and Love. He will be greatly missed.

  John Payne  of Concord, CA USA  on Thursday, July 28, 2005 at 21:54:30 (PDT)  
Sorry that Chet is gone & I hope that he did not suffer. I visited the Columbarium on Monday & found a beautiful place for a beautiful man. I will be at the show. I thank God for Chet & his kindness.

  jim crabtree  of san francisco,  on Thursday, July 28, 2005 at 17:01:06 (PDT)  
Well he was the right man at the right place at the right time. A key figure in shaping and bringing all the people, music and events of those wonderful years together.

  Matthew Warman  of Cambridge, England  on Thursday, July 28, 2005 at 00:55:19 (PDT)  
maybe this beautiful man has met up with all the beautiful people, he has not seen in a while, they are still catching up and they will let us know later how it is going. in the meantime what a loss to the rest of us..young and old, my condolences to the family of mr. chester leo helms. allyson ann.

  allyson ann   of seattle,  on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 at 18:35:41 (PDT)  
With loving, happy, indelible memories. /s/ John D --=-- Please do not add this e-ddress to third-party databases. Thank you.

  John C Diamante  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 at 15:33:04 (PDT)  
met the man once at Nickies Barbecue. we had a really good talk and smoke... he showed much kindness in his eyes...sorry to hear we lost such a patriot of music and the peace and art movement.

  dennis leffew  of san jose , ca usa  on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 at 15:26:54 (PDT)  
Chet was the best. Is there going to be a memorial concert? I saw and was appreciative of the tribute at the High Sierra Music festival in Quincy.

  tim rhode  of manteca, ca usa  on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 at 12:48:06 (PDT)  
I last spoke with Chet at the Peace Concert in Marin '04, and wish I had chatted more with him and Spencer. Looking forward to shakin' bones and waking the dead Friday at GAMH.

Remember me on the morrow
Remember me, but not with sorrow
No tears, now, or after
Just happy songs with lots of laughter
Remember me

--- Acquanetta

  Tim OConnell  of Scottsdale, az  on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 18:47:12 (PDT)  
Greetings to all. Be well,be happy. Godspeed.......................James *please inform as to when the Memorial will take place(and where). Peace

  james  of Sunnyvale, Ca united states  on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 16:49:16 (PDT)  
We will miss you!

  Sean Williams  of San Rafael, Ca USA  on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 14:01:12 (PDT)  
Got a call @ 5am the night of.God bless you.You are always fair.

  Mckey Fischer  of S.F.,  on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 12:58:40 (PDT)  
Last time I met Chet was on march 3, 2005 at Istituto Italiano di Cultura, downtown San Francisco. I was there to present to an italian-american crowd my new book PEACE & LOVE. Chet Helms and Country Joe McDonald wrote two meaningful forewords to the book I was kind really proud of. I invited both of them to my show. Sam Andrew (from Big Brother & The Holding Company) was so nice to join the party. And so did my old friends Mike Marshall (multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire) and Richard Green and Gunnar Madsen from the a-cappella band The Bobs. Dan Hicks, Paul Kantner and David Freiberg sent messagges just because they could not be there. Famous rock historian Joel Selvin introduced the whole event.
We were all waiting for Chet to come. I remember I tried many times (even from Italy) to get unsuccessfully in touch with him. All of a sudden, few seconds before to kick off, Chet shows up. My wife came immediately to me yelling: "Hold on! Chet is here " I was so pleasantly surprised and deeply happy to see him, I tried immediately to hug him. "Please, don't do it" he whispered "All my body hurts". It was very evident Chet was suffering but he didnt want to miss my party. I remember when vice-president Valeria Rumori announced he was in the house, Chet got a warm and long standing ovation.
I will always remember Chets gentle soul. And his huge generousity. He was so nice and patient to share his memories and spend hours and hours with me just to help me out with my book and articles. I remember what once he told me trying to describe his feelings the first time he joined the Trips Festival at Longshoremen's Hall in 1965. He came into the Hall, saw lost of hippies and thought: "Well, I'm not alone" From then on, his entire life has been devoted to support culture and creativity in order to make artists and music lovers feel 'less alone'.
Goodbye, Chet. Say hi to Janis and Jimi. I'll miss you.
"your friend from Italy", Ezio Guaitamacchi

  ezio guaitamacchi  of milano, italy  on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 03:54:29 (PDT)  
My name is Paul & I lived on Oak St (3 locations) from 1968-72. Some of the most memorable years of my life. I ran a house at Oak & Lyon for two years (1495 I believe. It had a sign out front saying 'Family Circus Home of the Children of Mu'). A friend from Toledo, Alan Bell, and I built a demo studio on the first of its four floors. I went to the Filmore, Avalon, Winterland, and Family Dog on the Great Highway 3 or 4 times a week during that time. Because I was dealing I kept sort of a low profile, so many people might not know or remember me. That's ok because I surely don't remember everyone I came in contact with either.
I' did carry one thing with me from that time period, though, that being a firm dedication toward living the 'hippie ethic'. I still believe we should be guided with love of others over self. It's not often easy, but it is something we must hold on to dearly to progress as a race, and there is only one---the human one.
Chet understood this. He put the music above the buck and we are all better off because of that attitude. A great man in my eyes has fallen, but I am positive I will see him again. It's a faith that transcends any religion.
As with all of us I have had trials & tribulations. Jail, drug addiction, loss of loved ones through death or just driving them out of my life by being self-centered. Like Janis said, "It's all the same fuckin' day man."
Then there was an epiphany. Following my fourth brain surgery in 1992 I was left partially paralyzed on my left side, couldn't play flute, guitar, or drums anymore. Went back to school & got a degree. More drug addiction followed divorce from my wife then death of my new girl friend. My choices seemed limited, keep slowly dying or pick a point and start living. I decided to pick a point and start living. The point was 1/1/01, the first day of the new millenium.
I moved into a house previously owned by Edgar Allen Poes girlfriend. No TV, no money, no stereo even, but I started writing. At a Berkeley benefit for John Sinclair I had occasion to meet Lawerence Ferlinghetti & Rod McCuen. They came up to me, asked me my name, then told me they would probably be hearing more from me in the future. I relished the idea at the time because fame is the great temptress of youth. Aside from wanting to be a rock star I had always wanted to write, but it took me a couple decades before I adhered to a philosophy my sister turned me on to. She said, "Being a writer is a matter of sitting your ass down in a chair". I finally got the message, and now I'm trying to play catch-up.
Funny thing, though, after I'd made the decision to try it seemed life kept getting in the way. One and a half books done and music keeps calling me away. Then I got involved starting an LPFM station, a music TV series, a local magazine, booking bands for benefits, and playing in several other bands. No complaints, however, because my self-esteem has come home to roost.
The latest project is setting up all the music for this year's 2005 Carytown Watermelon Festival. I did it last year & the year before, too, but this year it may be some sort of a record, I don't know. On August 14th I'll have 110+ musical acts performing on 10 stages between 10 AM and 5 PM, and if it is anything like last year over 110,000 people will show up.
I just wish Chet could be there to see it because it is the kind of effort I'm sure he would appreciate; no one, me or the bands, is getting paid and it is all for the love of music and our fellow man/woman.

  Paul Magill Smith  of Richmond, VA USA  on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 02:47:23 (PDT)  
many thanks from myself, kevin klemens and mayor scott rumana of wayne,new jersey for all the great music history you helped create. lay down my dear brother...lay down and take your rest.

  rocknrolldr  of flanders, nj U.S.A.  on Monday, July 25, 2005 at 14:10:54 (PDT)  
As your wave receeds to flat line and the picture becomes clear, Thank You, for silently teaching all who came in contact, yet still here. I trust it is getting bright there, you who were Chet Helms. What with collecting the beautiful souls and all. May we learn from you to humbly row, row, row our boats and ride our own waves home. May we all See you again, in what we call soon. I salute you Sir, Thank You again, and carry the muse-sic on...

  D. Mason  of San Franciscco, CA USA  on Monday, July 25, 2005 at 11:51:36 (PDT)  
we all felt the blessings.

  tracy rosen  of richmond, vt usa  on Monday, July 25, 2005 at 10:45:38 (PDT)  
The cultural revolution is in the soul of the people, You pass into the history that you yourself created, you can't ask for better than that, Love, James

  James Moilanen  of Seattle, WA USA  on Monday, July 25, 2005 at 09:26:11 (PDT)  
"Everybody's saying that music is love, everybody's saying it's love Put on your colors and run come see Everybody says that music's for free Take off your clothes and lie in the sun Everybody says that music's for fun" Nash-Young-Crosby from Crosby's "If Only I Could Remember My Name" NOTE: I am confident that there will be other musical tributes in Chet's honor for those of us who didn't get tickets or the GAMH. Polo Fields Concert is a great idea! When I read in the SF Examiner of Chet's untimely passing, (it was the following Monday) I was shocked - I hadn't even heard that he was sick. I wept aloud, even though I was in a cafe. It's always an added shock to read of such sad news in a newspaper. Srangely enough, just a couple of days before, I was organizing my photo collection (and I have thousands), and came across a few photos taken of us together. Of course, those photos went into the envelope of "my favorites". I was blessed to have met Chet at one of the arts shows at StudioZ, a few years back. I'm pretty sure the photo was taken at the anniversary show of the "Summer of Love". To my right is a photo of Janis and above it is a photo of Jorma. From the moment Chet and I met he was friendly and receptive. I always felt warmth from him, as we crossed paths frequently at other art shows. I didn't know it way back when, but he was a big factor in what drew me to SF; so many of the musicians I loved were the ones he promoted. Chet, thanks for your artistry, thanks for shining the light on so many talented musicians, and thanks for being a loving force and an inspiration to so many here, and around the world. Oh, and thanks for being so kind as to pose for those photos with me.

  Jamie Delman  of SF, CA  on Monday, July 25, 2005 at 03:20:12 (PDT)  
'Bye sweet Chet. Thank you for all your love and support over the years... Come back soon....xxooToday

  Today Malone  of Tijeras, NM USA  on Sunday, July 24, 2005 at 15:32:32 (PDT)  
Chet, When I heard of your passing I wept like a child but I also felt relief for you. I visited Chet at his gallery in 1996 and we went around the corner for a latte. On the way back we noticed a man staggering and disoriented. Chet stopped and asked him if he was OK. The man had marks on his face like he had been hit by someone. Chet pulled a $20 dollar bill from his wallet and handed it to the man and said he should try to get home. We walked only a few more feet and I saw another man with a grocery cart going through a trash can looking for aluminum cans, etc. The man saw Chet and said Hi Chet. Chet stopped and talked for a moment and then turned to me and said that is the hardest working man in San Francisco. I see him everywhere I go and he is always working. Chet, I miss you and I want to thank you again for being such a GREAT inspiration to everyone who was around you. I love you. May we meet again. Johnny, it is up to you now. I know you can do it.

  Darryl Kastl  of Moscow, Idaho  on Saturday, July 23, 2005 at 21:08:57 (PDT)  
As water slips into the air so does the soul on it's universal TOUR

  SWINE DOG  of  on Saturday, July 23, 2005 at 12:22:14 (PDT)  
Chet . On behalf of the other founding members of BLUE CHEER, especially recently deceased Jeremy Russell, we wish to acknowledge Chet and "The Family Dog" for changing our lives for the better and for always. "Good By Chet" and know you have a place in our hearts forever.

  ericalbronda  of San Francisco, CA. USA  on Saturday, July 23, 2005 at 05:31:56 (PDT)  
In the first place I want to wish the family much courage with the loss of Chet,he passed away much too early. I thank him for who he was, and what he did in his life. Rest in peace Chet.

  Blueset  of Amsterdam, Netherlands  on Saturday, July 23, 2005 at 03:58:20 (PDT)  
Chet ~ love you ~ listen all, I believe Chet would have wanted a farewell celebration FREE in the park for all who shared his visions ~ he was for the music after all, and I found it a bit sad that his memorial was taking place in a venue that holds only 350 or so folks, and at such a high cost. I'm looking in to permits for the Polo Fields sometime in September or October, anyone who is interested please contact me ~ peace

  J Pinto  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Friday, July 22, 2005 at 19:39:01 (PDT)  
Being 40 years old, I only got to benefit From Mr. Helm's Contributions to society when he relaunched the Family Dog at the Maritime Hall. Some amazing times, Thanks so much & Peace Timo

  Timo McNamee  of Discovery Bay, Ca USA  on Friday, July 22, 2005 at 18:38:40 (PDT)  
19 August 1966---my first San Francisco dance concert. The ambiance at the Avalon was inspirational. Dancing, dancing as never before, with sparkling light show, strobe lights pulsing, black lights glowing, smiling, open faces of dancers, music (The Dead and Sopwith Camel)opening us up to a whole new way of hearing and dancing. Thanks so much for the great vibes, Chet. And I bid you good night, good night, good night.

  Ray Schroff  of Red Bluff, CA USA  on Friday, July 22, 2005 at 15:31:54 (PDT)  
Went and talked to Chet's Ashes the other day. Beautiful urn. I really felt him. I even asked him if there was anyway to get me three tickets to the tribute. Hey...You can't blame an old hippie for trying. In fact I swear he would have smiled. Since I work close, I will be stopping by often to put fresh orchids in the little vase. I can only say it's a shame we can't in to the show. But I have a great strenght inside me knowing that we three were there in the beginning with you. The best times of my life and I wouldn't have changed it for the world! See you on Monday, Chet!

  Linda Appleby  of Mill Valley, Ca USA  on Friday, July 22, 2005 at 15:20:03 (PDT)  
I was honored to meet Chet by way of his attendance at my first ever art show, and we immediately were friends thereafter. I called him Uncle Chet - and we did treat each other like family. Aside from all the gratuitous blah blah blah regarding his legend (not to belittle his contributions, but everyone elses' bandwagon rhetoric)the biggest impression Chet left with me is that through the years that I knew him, not ONCE did I ever hear someone speak poorly of Chet! What an amazing testament to a man's life! Go ahead- try to think of someone else you can say that about. Chets' physical presence will be greatly missed here on planet earth. Rare and precious are friends such as he was. However- his spirit and essence will forever be with us in our hearts. THANK YOU, CHET, for your wonderful contributions and your love & friendship. I miss you like hell.

  Candace Blankenship  of Pacifica, CA USA  on Friday, July 22, 2005 at 11:45:08 (PDT)  
Great work. Bon voyage.

  Scott Miller  of Boulder, CO USA  on Thursday, July 21, 2005 at 23:42:36 (PDT)  

  SQUID B. VICIOUS  of S.F , CA  on Thursday, July 21, 2005 at 22:54:30 (PDT)  
Thanks for the whole scene, another great one has rolled down that track. Blessed be, He's Gone. Peace n Love, Out.

  Bill Lantz  of Sonoma, CA USA  on Thursday, July 21, 2005 at 12:45:43 (PDT)  

  Mat Grabowski  of San Jose, Ca USA  on Thursday, July 21, 2005 at 11:43:04 (PDT)  
Someone in the guest book mentions that Chet walked quietly among us and that's my memory - being a 16yr old kid sitting on the floor of the Avalon and seeing Chet walking gently through the crowd, talking and friendly. Through the posters and a couple of visits to the Avalon I saw a way of living life that looked like fun and driven by independent thought. It's done me well through the years - Thanks Chet for being one of the guys to show me a road worth traveling.

  John Ingham  of London, UK  on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 at 22:21:22 (PDT)  
I first met Chet a few years ago when I moved to the city after graduating from college, and ran into him often in the downtown area. I never knew of his tremendous influence in music history until now, and I'm not surprised. I'm glad we met.

  marc wrinkle  of san francisco, ca  on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 at 20:38:45 (PDT)  
To all of Chet's family and friends, I share with you the sadness in Chet's passing, the joy of his friendhsip and presence in my life, and the satisfaction of knowing the "music experience" legacy he leaves behind. To Chet, I remember your visits to Steiner Street, Family Dog at the Beach, massages at Northpoint, visiting at the gallery, catching up on the latest about our Texas friends, sadness at learning of your Hep C diagnosis (sharing when I got mine), gathering with old friends, always taking pictures, your beautiful spirit of love and kindness . . . Wished I could have been there to help you when you needed it - thanks to all your family of fiends who came when you needed them. I'll be at the Great American Music Hall . . . I bet you'll be there, too! Until we meet again, Love always, Brenda

  Brenda  of Scottsdale, AZ  on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 at 14:55:21 (PDT)  
Chet...thank you for being the gift that you were & will continue 2 b in our was always a joy to encounter u...till we meet again....Rick

  rricko  of  on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 at 20:21:05 (PDT)  
Hats off to you Chet -- It was a real pleasure knowing you in the last number of years. I will miss the great stories, and the fun that we had. Pacha Mama's will never be quite the same without you ---May you're spirit live on forever. Love Tom Kiernan

  Tom Kiernan  of  on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 at 12:17:08 (PDT)  
I first met Chet in 1967 when Siegel-Schwall first played the Avalon. I was thier roadie at the time..Chet was an inspiration, and I hope he knew how much he meant to so many people. Thank You Chet, for the music and the creating a great environment in which to listen....Rock On....Marc Hizer.

  Marc  of Columbus, OH U.S.  on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 at 10:52:38 (PDT)  
Thank you Chet for your light. I celebrate your life with love and aloha...

  Rena Morningstar  of Maui, HI United States  on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 at 02:58:12 (PDT)  
you will be missed, thanks for the family in which you created.

  dewey daniels  of arcata, ca  on Monday, July 18, 2005 at 18:15:58 (PDT)  
Dear Chet, friend, neighbor ,collegue, and artist: mason at bush street atelier dore, undone its window reflects you, still peace and good bye smoke a fat one on me now sit HIGH in that cloud interferion noirs angels in blanc allaround introspection hues I watched you hold strong yet we knew not for long your time, almost gone did what I could do a sellout of your show, " MAN!" now your maker can love famous melissa and tigger the magic ocicat cat

  famous melissa  of sf, ca usa  on Monday, July 18, 2005 at 16:53:27 (PDT)  

  CRAIG SCHNEIDER  of CORAL SPRINGS, FL USA  on Monday, July 18, 2005 at 10:12:00 (PDT)  
Beautiful man, beautiful mind, beautiful life

  Fintan Walker  of Sheffield, United Kingdom  on Monday, July 18, 2005 at 03:01:15 (PDT)  
I will miss Chet Helms. I have always admired his persona and the undeniable vibes I felt when I was there in 1968 at the Avalon (My first show, & second and third) when I was fifteen growing up in SF and it changed my life. I started then going to the Fillmore West, (it was never the same feeling as I felt at the Avalon I also miss Bill Graham...I always felt a special feeling for Chet. Though I never formally met him, I'm sure our paths must have crossed at those wonderful nights at the Avalon. Now, I have more insight and understanding to who Chet was, and besides my memories, posters and readings, I know there was so much more that I hunger to know about. I often wonder who Luria Castell was and the relationship to Chet, Anton, etc...I was much too young to know then, perhaps someone can enlighten me. Cheers, and my very best Chet! To a man I've always thought & wondered about and will continue to think of often...A man in his time, the creative flow he encouraged and introduced.

  Al Baston  of Eureka, CA US  on Sunday, July 17, 2005 at 23:22:03 (PDT)  
Ever the gentleman, the gentle, kind, sweet man. They don't make them that way much any more. Goodbye, Chet. I miss you already. Carol Ruth Silver

  Carol Ruth Silver   of SF,  on Sunday, July 17, 2005 at 19:46:04 (PDT)  
Aloha, made a difference.

  ron burk  of san francisco, ca  on Sunday, July 17, 2005 at 17:55:20 (PDT)  
Seems as if everyone wants on the proverbial band wagon now that Chet is gone. Funny how all he stood for seems to have been lost in the shuffle.......The ideology and culture now perpetuates vicariously through us.....let's try not to forget all that...I miss him.. cheers Don

  Don Aters  of Jeffersonville, IN USA  on Sunday, July 17, 2005 at 12:20:48 (PDT)  
god is dead...W GOOD

  frenz  of cattolica, italy cattolica  on Saturday, July 16, 2005 at 19:39:47 (PDT)  
The best times of my life were spent around, with, near Chet and his happening. We have truly lost an incredible friend. Not really lost, we will all see and be with him again!

  Linda Appleby  of Mill Valley, CA USA  on Saturday, July 16, 2005 at 13:40:31 (PDT)  
Dear Chet , It sadened me to just learn of your passing. I was out of town at the time, and not being up on the news papers, I found out through a friend. I've always viewed you as a catalyst that helped pave the way for the progresive thinking and cultural freedoms that we now enjoy, and continue to battle for- With out Chet, the 60's would have taken a different course. I was honored when I got the chance to meet you for the first time at La Clonial in 2000, where we ripped it up and carried on like the rock stars that we are. I feel fortunate that we developed a lasting friendship through our mutual interst of Art and music. Those portraitures I did of you, and all the joyus times we spent together- at the studio on Lombard, at the Atlier, and the various soires over the past five years, I will cherish forever. May the next life treat you to as much joy, and light as you have given to so many. You'll remain in all of our hearts for eternity. Long live the spirit of one of the good guys, who truely helped change the world for the better. I'll miss you old bean, but I know you'll be watching out for us from above. Lots of love.-- Ari

  Ari Schaefer  of Mill Valley, ca  on Friday, July 15, 2005 at 16:40:52 (PDT)  
In '69, I was finishing Freshman year of High School. St. Louis just got an FM station...the strands of the sweater that had began earlier, in the bay, were unravelling as far West as US...It came in on a soft breeze, so much so that I can't say anyone in particular served it to me, but it was good. We were changed by it, felt it, shared it, and some of us ran towards it...more an aftershock, rather than part of that first quake...but still, the canvas had no edges, and the format had no handrails...if you put yourself in the middle of it, the answer was all around you...and it was just.....good. Some time later, as memory times passed would prove misleading, compared to 'hard drive' evidence of the reliving, the mind looked closer at the this came to be...who dropped the seed in the right growth medium at the right time, and stayed to give it shade ( cool ) and water ( deep cool ). And this is where I "met' this man...this man of legend, a gentle visionary, rather than a conquering warrior. And it too was good.... Those that look for glorious heroes to celebrate ROCK, who want the power chords to bear witness in soundtrack, will over look this Johnny Appleseed of the West...and that...will be too bad. I don't even know myself, just where you laid pavers that I stepped on, tread so often my feet felt there essence...and then somewhere further..........I found a part of myself. Chet is good. Thank you.

  Mark Ogier  of MO USA  on Friday, July 15, 2005 at 15:56:42 (PDT)  
Chet was an inspiration, a living legend and a gentle soul who walked quietly among us. He exuded qualities only rarely seen in a man so influential. He touched hearts with his kindness, his vision. He modeled dignity and integrity and he was my friend. I will cherish always the portrait he took of me and the thoughtful and exuberant manner in which he printed, signed and framed it for me. I found out after his passing that he was the person responsible for bringing Janis here from Texas, which makes him a hero in my eyes - even more so than he already was, since in my opinion it was his shining spirit alone which in many deeply meaningful ways gave birth to the Summer of Love in the halcyion days of the 60's. Chet embodied that which was noble, loving and important in life. He lives yet, in all of us who remember him fondly and who miss him deeply. 'Bye Chet and Happy Journeys.

  Leslie Landberg  of oakland, ca.  on Friday, July 15, 2005 at 12:24:47 (PDT)  
Love you Chet....

  Craig R. Larson  of Santa Rosa, CA USA  on Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 18:44:02 (PDT)  
He spread the music that I might listen. I sure did.

  kim m. rancourt  of brooklyn, ny usa  on Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 11:43:09 (PDT)  
Chet-ster -- I just sent you an email. I'm happy to have you in the air my friend. You were the right kind of righteous. I'll miss your 3am smoke visits and all that jive mac shop talk with wine stained teeth. Miss and love you man.. xxv

  Victoria Smith  of San Franciscian transmitting from Dublin Ireland,  on Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 06:31:23 (PDT)  
Thanks for the legacy you were able to provide us with, Chet. it was a pleasure to know you, and you will be missed. Casey

  Casey Brinly  of Louisville, Ky.  on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 at 17:51:13 (PDT)  
Chet, I know your still here in the emanations from the kindnesses you extended so freely. I hope in the next go round we may know one and all better and share love peace and joy.

  Chris Emery  of Portland, OR USA  on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 at 14:23:15 (PDT)  
we miss you you will be in my heart for ever

  amilcar ferrari  of sausalito, ca  on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 at 20:44:30 (PDT)  
RIP Chet, my friend. We all miss you here at Reality Check TV. Glad we got to have a legend in the SF scene on the show, those are memories we'll always treasure and have "For All to See" (tm)!

To all Chet's Friends: Feel free to see the tribute to Chet on the RCTV website listed here.

ACE & The RCTV Crew.

  ACE  of SF, CA USA  on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 at 20:26:15 (PDT)  
Chet - I didnt know you, but certainly was inspired by you. I saw you in person just one time - at a Shoreline Dead show. Thank you for all that you haven given us. Onward!

  Matt Burrows  of Santa Monica, CA  on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 at 18:17:41 (PDT)  
My wife and I were fortunate to have met you in Golden Gate Park one lovely day in October '97 to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Summer of Love .You were kind enough to sign an autograph and pose for a picture .If that wasn't enough,you graced us all with a beautiful show that will be with us always. you lived your life for others and you lived it well.See you again one day in green fields and with music in the air. If there is going to be a public gathering to honor Chet,please let us know...the music hall sold out much too fast.

  mitch launer  of santa rosa, Ca. usa  on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 at 13:00:14 (PDT)  
Dear Chet, I am so sorry to hear of your passing. I had just gotten to know you, your brilliance in your art ,your loving spirit and open heart. I am not sad that you are not in pain anymore. I am happy that you are such an incredible inspiration for many. The last time i had seen you was at your gallery showing , the one with Hippies use side door. that made me laugh as i walked in and I watched you talk solemnly about your artwork. Your passion and senstivity will make me remember you always. With that smile, with that hug. I can say i love you . I had a feeling things werent allright a few wks before . On the day before your passing I had a bunch of my friends all light candles for you after posting that our help was needed online. I am so glad i did. This transition will only further your beauty in time. Your light will light the way for future generations. Namaste Chet' luv , Marquita

  Marquita  of san francisco, ca sf  on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 at 12:25:23 (PDT)  
Chet and I had grown very close in the last several years of his life. We were friends, neighbors and very psychologically involved as compatriots and lovers of music and art of every genre.

We had much in common in our travels through many decades. I grew up coast-to-coast and am fortunate enough to have been involved in the music community since my teens during the 60s. I saw all the great ones too. Chet and I often reminisced about the talents of Jimi Hendrix (who Chet once took acid with), his traveling here with Janice Joplin, Big Brother, the Dead, the amazing poetry and sexual impact of Jim Morrison, etc. Of course, he could always up me many times over on these kinds of stories  well, because he was Chet.

Like Chet, Im nocturnal. We live exactly one block apart and spent hundreds of hours together on the phone and at each others houses laughing like hyenas in the middle of the night over so many things  so many times.

One of the things I liked most about him was his keen interest in a thousand different things. We talked about music, art, history, politics, him, science, philosophy, metaphysics, him, pop culture, drugs, relationships, him, things won, things lost, things longed for and him. Thats why he thought I was such a good conversationalist!!!!!!!! Cause we talked about him!!! I can hear him laughing right now! I am.

Everybody is in our lives for a reason. For Chet and I there was a higher lesson for each of us to learn from one another; I from him and he from me.

Well buddy, you and I always laughed and sang ourselves to sleep when the musics over, turn out the lights, turn out the lights, turn out the lights...

May you be in the light Chet and know that my heart is with you.

Now and forevermore,
Victoria Rayles 7/12/05

  Victoria Rayles  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 at 03:27:53 (PDT)  
Lost another Daddy....

  Naomi Ruth Eisenberg  of Crescent Mills, CA USA  on Monday, July 11, 2005 at 15:44:55 (PDT)  
Chet was like our dad at the avalon, it was home to several people. Later he became my mentor what little I know about production compared to Chet stems from the kindness in his heart and that you don't need to be tough or mean to put on a magical event. I will miss you, HAPPY TRAILS

  Jim Dion  of  on Monday, July 11, 2005 at 14:35:04 (PDT)  
Re: Info on the Memorial Show on July 29th:

  Lobster  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Monday, July 11, 2005 at 13:50:08 (PDT)  
My dear Chet, hello and by, till I'll see you again...
when we first met, it was obvious to me - I knew you forever...
in my hart and mind and all the rest of me you are never gone,
you are always a part of me...
as same for all those who have privilege and good karma to meet and be around you ...

though, I totally cried ... like baby jesus ...
love forever ds

  Dmitri Stroganov  of Mill Valley, CA USA  on Monday, July 11, 2005 at 13:15:22 (PDT)  
Chet was the catalyst to so much of the music and culture of the SF music scene that his influence and legacy will continue in ways that may go unrecognized but none-the-less continue to reverberate. He was the personification of "the gentle people" that Scott MacKensie sang about finding when you "go to San Francisco." It was a supreme blessing to get to know him over the years and be part of his revived Council for the Summer of Love for the 30th Anniversary show in Golden Gate Park in 1997. As his generous spirit willed it, that was a free concert and Chet was stuck with the police tab of 30K. Chet and I did an interview some months back that will re-air on our weekly radio show, Lobster's Rock Box, on the weekend of July 15th - 17th. It will be heard in the SF Bay Area on 97.7 FM The River in Santa Rosa on Sunday 7/17 at 9 AM and 98.5 FM The Fox, San Jose/San Francisco Sunday 7/17 at 9 PM. they also stream on the web at www/ A national list of stations can be found on the homepage of

  Paul "The Lobster" Wells  of San Francisco, CA 94111  on Monday, July 11, 2005 at 11:59:40 (PDT)  
Chet, Thank you for producing experiences that helped shape my life. I'll dance a jig for you on the 29th. JKD

  Joe  of San Francisco, Ca USA  on Monday, July 11, 2005 at 09:31:45 (PDT)  
I grew up in the bay area and have always been a huge music fan. Even though I was just a pup and too young to go to concerts when Chet was running the Family Dog shows, I was very much aware of what he was doing and how much different an Avalon show was compared to Graham's Fillmore operation. I attended those Avalon shows mentally by gazing at all those wonderful posters that adorned my bedroom walls.Today, I'm a hardcore poster collector and many of my favorite pieces are from the Dog numbered series.

Years later, I run into Chet at a KYA radio flea market in the city and manage to strike up a conversation with him. We talked about posters and the wonderful Berkeley Greek Theater Tribal Stomp that he produced. I asked him about all the video footage that was made at that show and why we hadn't seen any of it released. He promised me that it was in the works. I won't hold that broken promise against him. Just the opportunity to chat with and shake his hand was all I needed.

Heaven's getting a saint of a man. I can only imagine the conversations he's having with Bill Graham.

Rest in Peace Chet. We'll miss you.

  Jeff Setzekorn  of Modesto, Ca USA  on Monday, July 11, 2005 at 09:13:15 (PDT)  
I only met Chet once. It was at a rock poster art show. He was nice enough to sign a Family Dog playbill that I had brought with me. We had a nice 15 minutes or so conversation about music. Nice man.....

  Kevin King  of Petaluma,  on Monday, July 11, 2005 at 06:00:54 (PDT)  
I met Chet about the time he came to SF in Page Street. We shared several places in the next couple years Hayes, Pine, Linden and other streets. Gary Marxson death while leaving his soul in Marysville affect us both. It might be a falst memory but I think I introduced him to Lori a friend from LA. I remember his work for LEMAR (who funded this - I didn't want to know). The Clemintina Boxes. The Charlatans. I remember his trip back to Austin and return with Janice who sang at the Coffee and Confusion later returning to our shared flat and having the landlord kick us out the next day). I didn't know Janis or at least well just say Hi to. Chet was my best man when I married in the Family Dog on Ocean - later confirmed in a registry wedding.

I last saw Chet the day before I was to come to Europe for a few months (now over 420 months). In moving around during those first few months I lost my addresses (and Life) losing contact with nearly everybody including Chet. I was born 1 year and 11 days after Chet but now after Chet feel so much older. Everyone has been so elequent I can hardly write. Chet was and is respected loved - not a bad life. Love to all those who loved him and love.

  Shake - Keith  of London, UK  on Sunday, July 10, 2005 at 00:22:56 (PDT)  
I first met Chester in ROTC, yep, ROTC. We stood beside each other in the same squad. We were a lot alike in many ways and became friends.

His picture in the annual is totally the opposite from what is seen here.....we were expecting him for the class reunion this time. None of us knew of his fame. Basically, though, he is, was the same ol' Chester that I knew...intellectual, compassionate, believed in others good, etc.

After high school, we went off to different colleges and gradually lost contact with each other. Wish I could afford to go to San Francisco and experience where he lived and etc..

Well, Chester, We'll be right there, etc and so on...keep checking back....

  Ronald West  of Arlington, tx USA  on Saturday, July 09, 2005 at 21:43:47 (PDT)  
Is someone going to hip us all to the Benefit event at the Great American Music Hall on July 29th? Tell us the scoop on when tickets go on sale and where?? ...

Many thanks

may the long time sun
shine on you
all love surround you
and the pure light within you
guide your way home.


  Rainbow  of Palo Alto, Ca  on Saturday, July 09, 2005 at 13:46:44 (PDT)  
I'm so sorry to learn of Chester's death (to me he was Chester, and it's hard to change that to "Chet." We really are in some ways different personalities at these different life stages.) I'm a classmate from Polytechnic High, Ft. Worth '60. We were not close, but I was one of the geeks too...I ended up a classical pianist, about as far from the rock world as can be, and I was astounded to hear what Chester had done with his life a few years ago when he came back for a Reunion. I regretted that I missed that one, and now am doubly sorry. I think I had read about his fake "death" and "resurrection" back in 2000 and scratched my head over the name, then said "Naahh, it can't be Chester." That was a great laugh. Chester was always good for serious talk though, a real intellectual leader, even if we never agreed about much of anything. He always loved to talk politics, was more right-wing than I in high school I think (and that's saying a lot), and amazed me the last time we met, outside Ashburn's ice cream shop in Poly one summer night, 1962 or '63; it was between the college years. He had gone to UT (one did not really need to go to Harvard) and "turned left." He gave me an hour-long, deeply felt and rigourously defended lecture on socialism. I see from the obits and the testimony of these friends that he carried that idealism forward to the end. My music is classical, and my image of the San Francisco rock scene and Haight-Ashbury has been pretty negative, so it's good to be reminded that behind the drugs and the wild hedonism there were keenly intelligent and kindly people like Chet, who really believed in peace, love, and their art. It makes me happy to know that he had a loving family around him at the end. Bless all of you. Yes, may he rest in heavenly light, confounding both the fundamentalists and the atheists...he'd like that. Steven

  Steven Smith  of State College, PA USA  on Saturday, July 09, 2005 at 13:18:33 (PDT)  
"may the baby jesus close your mouth and open your mind"
and may the four winds blow you safely home
Rest in Peace Chet

  Rainbow  of Palo Alto, Ca  on Saturday, July 09, 2005 at 13:06:22 (PDT)  
Chet was one of the most inventive people of our generation,and had a heart big enough to hold us all. His gentleness and since of tolerance for others is allready being missed as will his generosity.

  Gary Spencer  of Oakland, Ca U.S.A.  on Saturday, July 09, 2005 at 12:35:30 (PDT)  
Chet - you will be missed. Thank you for all the great things you have provided. Rest well friend. CJ

  Craig Juan  of San Mateo, CA U.S.A.  on Saturday, July 09, 2005 at 09:56:05 (PDT)  
I worked for Family Dog as a sound man, first at the "Denver Dog", then the Avalon and finally out on the Great Highway. All told, not much more than three years total.

But what I learned and experienced in those three years has helped me ever since.

It was Chet who, more by example than with words, shaped my approach to and attitude about the music "business" and most of all how an audience should be treated.

After my "Dog Days" I quickly discovered that many other promoters and their staffs harbored an "us against them" attitude toward perfomers, audiences or both. They were merely the means to the end of making a profit.

Chet understood that the interaction between the people on stage and the audience was what made the magic. He also knew that they both needed to feel "included" in the show to make that magic happen.

I worked long hours, and wasn't always certain that I would get paid, at least not 'on time" But his smile and the "magic" kept me coming back for more.

From Chet's partner Bob Cohen, I learned many of the audio skills that have been my means of making a living for nearly 40 years.

But it was Chet's willingness to mix things up program wise that taught me skills I wouldn't have ever learned working somewhere that only booked "flavor of the month" rock and pop acts.

The Holy Man Jam, The legendary Classic Bluesmen, The Indian Musicians, and all of the crazy stuff we did on the Great Highway during "The Common" era were experiences I remember fondly and EXPERIENCE that has helped me ever since.

Our paths continued to cross right up until the end, including Chet's own 60th Birthday Celebration, and the last time at Merl Saunders 71st Birthday. We always were happy to see each other, no longer as employer/employee, but as two old friends who in the words of Nick Gravenites that evening, "remembered too much".

Too much memory is never enough.

I'm sure he's still dancing somewhere.

  Lee Brenkman  of Oakland, CA United States  on Saturday, July 09, 2005 at 08:31:49 (PDT)  
Another great "artist" who has left us...

  giancarlo fioretti  of Rome, Italy  on Saturday, July 09, 2005 at 05:57:20 (PDT)  
My life was made better in September '67 by the Family Dog /Denver. I'm sure it goes without saying many many other lives were enriched by this kind gentle man. Who could ask for a better epitaph?

Have a wonderful journey. Peace, good weather, good luck. (x)

I felt bad when I heard the news, but then I had a selfish, positive thought that cheered me up: it is possible that somewhere in the universe Chet is getting ready to open the best ballroom ever. Maybe someday if my karma is good I will be blessed to get past some winged doorman / bouncer ("no shoes? ... no shirt!??... no problem ...") and enjoy another night or two at the ultimate Family Dog / Avalon Ballroom.

We can only hope.

  David Queen  of Call it Denver for now, CO amerika  on Saturday, July 09, 2005 at 00:52:10 (PDT)  
Chet was someone i met sporadically over the last few years, of whom i said, 'jeezis, here is walking history, and it's in the form of a really nice person'. He was just there at events, being what makes san francisco still a really great place to be- talkative, sincere, present. it sucks thinking there won't be another sporadic meeting with him at a future event about town. thanks for everything, for making this city a legend

  db  of SF,  on Friday, July 08, 2005 at 22:14:05 (PDT)  
Thanks for adopting San Francisco as your home and for all the contributions you made to San Francisco History especially in Art, Photography and Psychedelic Music.

  Ron Cabral  of Concord, CA USA  on Friday, July 08, 2005 at 20:16:30 (PDT)  
I know of Chet only via what's been written about him and by the influence of the much-loved Family Dog posters I have. At the bottom of one it reads: "the Family Dog will be at a gathering of the tribes for a Human Be-In...Free." Wonderful words and, by all accounts, a wonderful man. Thanks for bringing Janis up to us Chet.

  Glinda  of Victoria, BC Canada  on Friday, July 08, 2005 at 19:44:34 (PDT)  
Chet: Here's to all the good times that we had. This life is just a brief rest stop for our next adventure. Say hello to Allen Cohen and Ken Kesey and be sure to keep the light on for me...In Goodness and Love...Your Pal...J.C. Flyer

  J.C. Flyer  of Hayward, CA USA  on Friday, July 08, 2005 at 13:55:43 (PDT)  
Thank you Chet. That's all that needs to be said.

  Craig Petty  of St.Louis, MO usa  on Friday, July 08, 2005 at 13:38:36 (PDT)  
Although written with some other avatar in mind, it seems very appropriate you Chet, we certainly didn't know you...but you were truly a rare and different tune:

"...There's a banjo moon in a tie-dyed sky
Hippies dance and babies cry
Church bells ring as a silver-haired angel look down
And the blood of his music runs through the veins of our guitars
Bright lights, Dark Star"


  John & Jani Bergan  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Friday, July 08, 2005 at 09:14:54 (PDT)  
As a Janis Joplin fan of no special merit Chet very kindly met with me when I was in SF on a visit and chatted a while. He did not need to do it. A gentleman. My condolences to the family.

  adrian childs-clarke  of London, United Kingdom  on Friday, July 08, 2005 at 03:06:15 (PDT)  
Chester and I knew each other from the time we were fifteen years old and studying at the same high school. He and I and two others were the class geeks and Chester spent many, many hours on my front porch, talking amid fireflies and june bugs. I saw him last a year and a half ago in San Francisco. After a long conversation, I felt he needed to hear this and said, "Chester, you really did well for yourself." He would not meet my eyes, turned his face to the side away from me, and said, very softly, "I didn't do so bad for an uneducated country boy, did I..."

No, babe, you surely didn't. Rock all of heaven, cause if there is one, that is surely where you are now.

  emily hodges  of chicago, IL  on Thursday, July 07, 2005 at 21:58:16 (PDT)  
Chester, you were one of the good ones. I'll miss your stupid jokes and your mischevious chuckle.

  Wally  of Portland, OR USA  on Thursday, July 07, 2005 at 21:15:43 (PDT)  
I never met Chet and never attended anything in S.F. all I know is what I read about him. It is said if a person can touch or make an impression on one other person's life he has done something special. Chet Helm touched too many people's lives to count and what he did was truly not just special but for some life altering. His dream will live on as long as poster collectors save the Avalon artwork (like myself) or you listen to a CD recorded at the Avalon or the best tribute, when his friends sit around and tell a good story about him. Say hello to Duane Allman, Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrex and the rest from the good 'ol days that have gone ahead. To a man I never met, but wished I could have, Rest in Peace.

  Frank  of Springfield, IL USA  on Thursday, July 07, 2005 at 20:31:55 (PDT)  

You are missed by more people than you can imagine. We loved you then, we love you now, we will love you all our lives, and beyond in our collective memory.

  John Hatten  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Thursday, July 07, 2005 at 20:28:34 (PDT)  
Thank You Chet ! You have done soooooo much to actually change, not only Our Music Accessibilty, but the World !!! You've made our Hearts Sing...S.D.

  M. Shaun Dolan  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Thursday, July 07, 2005 at 16:31:55 (PDT)  
Godspeed Chet Helms. Chet was an icon, a legend and a down to earth love-minded hippie. I met him several times when I worked for Bob Cohen at Clear-Com back in the 80's. When I was growing up and all the great music was happening here in SF - Chet was the "Anti-Bill Graham" the dude who was in it for the music, the love and the happening, not for the money. "Everybody's sayin' that music is love" - Chet, that is your legacy. Sleep well and spin us some good moonbeams - we will all meet again at the jam in the sky!

  Karyn Ann Bosso  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Thursday, July 07, 2005 at 15:57:36 (PDT)  
Thanks for all the great music Chet. You accomplished so much, of course you will be missed and never forgotten. Russ

  Russ Crossland  of Durango, Co USA  on Thursday, July 07, 2005 at 15:40:58 (PDT)  
This old hippie boy had to shed a tear or two for Chet when I heard the news. The second night I was in San Francisco in January 1967 I had to go down to the Avalon to hear what all the fuss was about: the Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service were playing, the Hell's Angels got a pass, and went in ahead of everybody in line--what a scene! Thanks for all the great shows, and thanks for just being the beautiful person you were. You won't be forgotten. Peace and love....

  Magic Marco  of Tampa, FL USA  on Thursday, July 07, 2005 at 13:33:34 (PDT)  
In memory of a wonderful friend:

For my daughter River and me, Chet's pet name from us to him was 'Chetters'. I met him in Anatomy Class at City College of San Francisco in 1976 and we became study buddies. He was studying anatomy because he was considering becoming a massage therapist. It was during a period where he felt burnt out by the commercial music scene and I was studying anatomy for my nursing pre-requisite. His brother Jim lived across the street from us on Clipper St in San Francisco and we found ourselves on the same bus line after classes, thus our friendship began. Chet was always extremely close with his brothers.

At the time, I was not aware of his fame in the Rock n Roll world, only of his genuine wonderful personality and photographic memory for Anatomy. I also became great friends with his dog 'Footers'. Footers was a German Shepard who once escaped from Chet's house in the Richmond District of San Francisco. I called Chet to let him know that Footer's was over, thinking he was at his brother's house. Chet informed me that Footers had escaped from the front yard to cruise the neighborhood looking for him. This meant that Footers had journeyed all the way from the Richmond District to my house in Noe Valley, which was roughly 7 miles through city streets ! He was one of the smartest dogs I ever knew. Today, I have a German Shepard that always bring me memories of Footers.

At the time when we met, I was a single mother with a 2-year-old daughter. Chet was a natural dad as he was great around children and it was not long before he won my daughters heart. He became a regular at my house on Clipper and our friendship flourished and grew. I moved to the Sunset District and many times I would come home from work in the evenings to find Chet over, reading bedside stories to River. Their favorite story was titled 'Dinosaurs'. He had given her the story for her third Christmas and she had memorized the names of all the different dinosaurs, which he was very proud of. The bond between my daughter and Chet was so strong that he became her spiritual Godfather.

Chet was always one of my most dependable friends. No matter how far I moved around the country during my life journey, I could always call on him during my good and bad times. He was a night owl, so when most of my friends where sound asleep, I could always call Chet, and if he was not out carousing the town, he always made himself available to listen or share stories with. His spirit was always full of love and kindness towards everyone with a genuine sense of honesty. He was one of my few friends that could correct me when I was wrong and I would accept the criticism with the love that it was given with. He walked his talk when it came to social justice. Chet was PEACE and LOVE. I will miss him dearly but I know that he is in Heaven as he was truly an Angel on Earth.

Chet, your spirit will always live on for you touched the hearts of many.

"Love ya!"

  Cristina and River  on Thursday, July 07, 2005 at 12:51:58 (PDT)  
To whom I owe so many of my good times, either directly or indirectly, you will always be missed. I will continue to dance in your light...

  funkymtn  of Sausalito, CA USA  on Wednesday, July 06, 2005 at 12:24:31 (PDT)  
Everyone in Ancient Future is sad to hear of Chet's passing. He was one of the very rare people in the business of music who made the world better through their actions.

  Matthew Montfort  of San Rafael, CA USA  on Wednesday, July 06, 2005 at 11:51:44 (PDT)  
I never knew Chester as "Chet", and never saw him again after graduation from Poly High School in Fort Worth in 1960. I was happy to see that he attended the 40th Poly Reunion. Though I did not attend, I was able to write to him to thank him wholeheartedly for his patience in assisting me in Algebra IV. No one should ever take Algebra IV, it was not then, nor is it now, useful, but Chester kindly steered me through the mysteries, and was instrumental in stopping me from running howling from the room. I can see that the patience and humor that he had in 1960 extended throughout his life. May he rock heaven!

  Carla Marshall McDonald  of Stevensville, MT USA  on Wednesday, July 06, 2005 at 09:11:05 (PDT)  
I remember well a trip I took with several buddies; one being Max Sims from Poly High School in Ft Worth to California many years ago. We were in the San Francisco area and called Chester up. He invited us to come by his Poster Shop in the Hatte Asbury area of SFO. We went by to see him. He was doing great, had a beard and was operating a Poster Shop in the area; many Hippies at the time. He was very cordial and just a great friendly guy. He became very successful from his work there in SFO. We will all miss him.. Ken Lucas

  Ken Lucas  of Houston, TX USA  on Wednesday, July 06, 2005 at 07:33:02 (PDT)  
I was fortunate to know Chet pretty well, and will miss him dearly. His passing was at first to me the marking of the end of an era of community in music, as I feel so many musicians, promoters and club owners all seem to be missing the point these days, and focusing on the bottom line, which we all know never much interested Chet, lest it was the last line of verse. My band, Shantytown, recently held a Tsunami benefit concert at Slim's, and I asked Chet to Emcee the event, which he agreed to, and in marvelous fashion and in his own beautiful way, spoke so kindly to everyone involved, creating a mood surrounding the show that few of us who were there will ever forget. In thinking about this, and watching him again on a dvd we made of the concert, I have come to realize that his real passing was the passing on to me, and all the other people who attended that show, or ever knew him, of depth and a sense of commitment to go about life with intention and kindness both, and to create a sense of community in not only music venues, but in our relationships with the people we care for. I will miss him dearly, but he is certainly not gone, as he has passed on to all who knew him the knowledge that life can be lived on the truest terms, and that the communities we build with each other will sustain themselves through the undying nurturing of people like Chet. He stood for something larger, and because of him, now I do as well.

  teague kernan  of san francisco, ca  on Wednesday, July 06, 2005 at 03:17:01 (PDT)  
Now there's a guy you KNOW will make it into heaven. Do we common people get to pick persons to be sainted? I nominate Chet. He certainly performed his share of miracles. Rest in peace Chet.

  Greg Evans  of Victoria, B.C. Canada  on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 at 23:24:21 (PDT)  
Yeah, Chet was indeed the greatest. No arguement from anyone I've ever met. An avuncular hippie to the bone. The cat always shared his pie. A rarity in the world of pie-hoarding wanna-be-hippy chisler types. Chet was a true "southern" gent, even by country club standards. Class, and style to burn. His chi extended to all walks of life and culture. He was a cultural entrepeneur. An historian who made his own history for others to dig. Farewell brother Chet, and save me a seat by the stage at the great party upstairs. We'll all be there soon enough. I'll miss your weekend funnies. Shaw

  Shaw Hazen  of Orinda, CA Obscuristan  on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 at 20:41:06 (PDT)  
I met Chet a few years ago at an event at the Rouge Lounge in San Francisco. I thought it was a fundraiser for the homeless, but it turned out to be a "singles" party. As I walked around the club I noticed Chet sitting down, looking that he was not part of this scene. He looked like the most interesting person there so I was introduced to him. I did not have any idea of who he was or his history. I am so glad that I did that. I was fortunate enough to accompany Chet to many events during the last few years. I found him one of the sweetest and gentle of men. I will never forget Chet and hope to meet up with him again some day. Chet will always be with me. If there is ever an event to honor his life, I would like to be part of that. This would be such a happier world if we had more people in it like Chet.

  Sandi Bowman  of Novato, CA USA  on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 at 19:58:50 (PDT)  
I just saw you in March at the Italian Cultural Institute and later that evening at your photo exhibit opening on that rainy night. A quiet evening with Melissa and Michael and you. I didn't think it would be the last time I'd see you. What a kind soul you always were to me. To make me feel included and to introduce me to your friends as I am. Acknowledging creativity. You gave and gave and had the guts to have compassion. All the rich rockstars that could've helped you and didn't....Like the words of Peter Tosh said," Everyone's trying to reach the top, yeah. But tell me, how far is it from the bottom? No one really knows." Maybe you, (and Kesey), if you get the chance will break through the veil from the other side and give us all a laugh with a soulful cosmic practical joke. Love Be With You Big Brother.

  Paul William Smith  of San Francisco, CA United States  on Monday, July 04, 2005 at 23:42:09 (PDT)  
We were blessed and honored to have both Chet and Allen Cohen at our dinner table for one of our 'yummy' shots for our PBS cooking show. I remember vividly how the conversation at the table would move from topic to topic, sometimes heated between the large group of people assembled there- and how Chet was seated so quietly, patiently observing, smiling at something Allen would contribute- just happy to be there listening. I recall being so enthralled with this person who didn't need to have his voice heard over the others, or to have to prove anything to anyone, but just to remember his smile as he ate the yummy poppies seed cake for dessert and to hear his soft voice just then to ask for seconds...

  James Ehrlich  of San Francisco, CA USA  on Monday, July 04, 2005 at 21:16:41 (PDT)  
Love and Peace is Really what Chet Was all About, Let's ALL Get together and Celebrate LIFE. I will never for the Happenings and Be-in, Acid-Tests, LOve-ins and THE Summer of Love. Chet WAS The 60's and He was Love, Loved by everyone who knew him, Giving, Caring, and helping everyone he knew. Chet, Thanks for all the GREAT Parties and Celebrations, In Yiddish the word "MACHER" means MAKER. Chet MADE it ALL Happen with the help of his MANY FRIENDS. That's the last thing I talked to Chet about. Rest in Peace Dear Friend. Peace and Love, Harold Adler

  Harold Adler  of Berkeley, Ca USA  on Monday, July 04, 2005 at 15:04:07 (PDT)  
you dont know me but chet did ... he accepted me the only outlawyer san francisco has ever know and producer of peacequake where people fulfilled chet taught me MAY THE BABY JESUS CLOSE YOUR MOUTH AND OPEN YOUR MIND

  belle starrr  of heavenly mansion, hi  on Monday, July 04, 2005 at 14:05:42 (PDT)  
I was just a young lad durning the glory days of Haight-Ashbury. I was born and raised in the Bay Area and was aware of the scene and the major players of the time, but I never had the opportunity to attend the Avalon or the Family Dog at the Great Hwy. I first met Chet when he was organizing the Monterey Tribal Stomp in 1979. I volunteered to help with with that concert and had remained in contact with him ever since. Later I got involved with the first serveral concerts the Family Dog did at Maritime Hall. I also helped out Chet for the 30th anniversary of the Summer Of Love in Golden Gate Park. I was never a very close friend of Chet; we were more like acquaintances. I would frequently run into Chet at a concert, hippie fest, or just around town. It was always a joy to see and talk with Chet. The thing I will always remember about Chet was his soft, compassionate eyes, the way he looked directly at me with we talked. It was very sad to hear the news of his death. The last time I saw him was February 25 at the Barbara Boxer tribute at Slims nightclub. He didn't look like his old self. It bothered me to learn of his increasing troubles with Hep C. It is with much sadness that I say goodbye to Chet. Although we never really got to know each other beyond a casual conversation, he was a brother. I miss him dearly.

  John Finnigan  of San Rafael,  on Monday, July 04, 2005 at 12:40:20 (PDT)  

I'm Vaughn. I met Chet when we were both hanging around North Beach in '63 or so. I'm six weeks younger than Chet, looked rather similar in '67, and was occasionally mistaken for him at the Avalon. We were friends for over 40 years. Didn't spend a lot of time together, mostly just ran into him at public events, like Ginsburg's kaddish at Emanu-El or the Chet Helm Day celebration a few years ago. I, in my private ways, and Chet, in his public ways, are two of the people who helped keep San Francisco the magic place that it is. I miss him dearly, one of the kindest and truest people I've been blessed to know in my life. Do let me know when I can join his many friends for a public memorial.

  Vaughn Spurlin  of San Francisco, CA US  on Monday, July 04, 2005 at 10:26:24 (PDT)  
Can't say for sure that I ever met Chet. Oh, I was there in the day. Saw Janis play on a flatbed truck in the panhandle. Shopped at the digger free store and ate in the park with them. Later I met Aunt Ellen and Luria and we became friends. I heard stories about Chet and the Family Dog from them. I wonder why they haven't written here. (Well, it is probably because they don't do the internet. The last time I saw Aunt Ellen she was living in her truck. If anyone knows where they are have them get in touch, it's been too long.) I don't think Chet would say that he was the 'first hippie' or was soley responsible for creating the scene. I think he would say 'we'. Like all energy that is no longer held by its mass, he has accelerated to the speed of light and is now everywhere at once all the time. In the land of darkness the chariot of the sun is pulled by the greatful dead, and Chet is no doubt loving the show. Add one to the mystery take one from the fold. Blessing to all in the greater Family. Love lives this summer too it you want it to. Be gentle with yourselves. billy

  billy lloyd hults  of tolovana park, 0r usa  on Monday, July 04, 2005 at 09:45:21 (PDT)  
keep me informed... will help w/ any events 408 723-8061 -I heard of Chet's passing Sat at Black Oak Ranch. Wavy rambled through his tears as he informed the audience (Kate Wulf Folk Festival). Donovan came out later and read Dylan Thomas. Some of us gathered in a circle under the full moon that night and howled and banged our drums for Chet till the sun came up bringing us of the miracle of a new day.

  Randy Merten  of San Jose, CA  on Monday, July 04, 2005 at 08:18:12 (PDT)  

I was 12 years old when I first went to the Avalon Ballroom, in 1966. It was Christmas and my sisters took me there for my first experience. In those days it wasn't who was playing as much as being in the scene and grooving with the people, even though it was the Grateful Dead and Moby Grape on stage. There was a Christmas tree in the hall and these wild looking people dancing all around smiling and holding out there hands handing me something. There seem to be a group of them swirling around with a wild look in there eyes. I found out later they were the Merry Pranksters. I was so swept up in looking at everyone and wandering around dancing. I also saw these women wandering around who were dressed so unusual with a lot of make up on in these beautiful clothes smiling at me.

From then on I went to the Avalon when my sisters took me. My other experience at the Avalon that really stands out in my mind was seeing this group called Big Brother and the Holding Company. I thought they were so groovy. There lead singer was so cool to me that I stopped dancing to look at them. Man, I thought they were beautiful. I use to see Janis in the park walking around and in some shops on Haight Street. I would study her movements and listen to her talk like I wasn't paying her any mind but I really was. I was still to shy to speak to her but I thought she was so cool.  I remember going to the panhandle and hearing music on the back of a flat bed truck, many times. I remember meeting these people who were feeding people and giving clothes to people in need. I thought that was so cool and went home and called these people called the Diggers and they came out and picked up clothes from me. I really called them because I wanted to see these people up close and find out about them but when they showed up I was too shy to speak to them and just smiled at them.

I remember when this guy came to town and starting putting on concerts at a place called The Fillmore. I had heard I could make 10, 00 dollars if I showed up to dance while they filmed us. It wasn't till much later that I found out about Bill Graham. I remember thinking he is no Chet Helms! The vibe felt different and his "crew" where not people from the Family Dog genre.

When the Family Dog moved out to Playland I went there only a handful of times as San Francisco was changing. I left San Francisco in 1970 with a group of people I had met at the Straight Theatre to "get back to the land" in Tennessee and was gone for eight years. Upon my return to San Francisco I went to a concert at Winterland to see the Grateful Dead and was shocked and horrified how much the scene had changed. It was not a Family Dog scene! I never went back.

Chet Helms gave us a moment in time that I will always cherish. Most people think it was Bill Graham who made it all happen, but they are mistaken.

Peace and Love, my brother

  Iverina Joyce Rasmussen on Friday, July 1, 2005 at 11:53:00 (PDT)  

Dear Chet and Family,
I just wanted to say to Chet's family that I am very sad for you.
To Chet: That I am a better person to have known you.
Thank you for all your "wonderment",

  Christina Constantikes on Friday, July 1, 2005 at 11:47:00 (PDT)  

Now, we live like dogs but without a family anymore.
May the baby Jesus...

  Psyk on Friday, July 1, 2005 at 04:08:00 (PDT)  

My Dear Friend has passed. We will miss him.
Thank you, so very much Chet Helms; for all our friendships through you, selflessly.
Best regards,

  Steve Sodokoff on Thursday, June 30, 2005 at 22:47:00 (PDT)  

The Avalon Ballroom, members of the Family Dog, the atmosphere, and the music, will always play an important part in my memories. My sister Linda used to go around and hand out Avalon posters for advertising upcoming shows. I then would bring them to my high school and hand them out. I loved the times my sister was not able to pick the posters up on Gough Street and I went for her.

As I look back, it was such a magical time. I spent so many Friday and Saturday nights at the Avalon. I wrote something silly like, "Wanting to grow my hair as long as Chet Helms" under my high school senior picture. I remember John and Jim Helms, Mac McGrew and Jack Jackson. I had a terrible crush on George Hunter of the Charlatons. None of the above mentioned people have any idea who I am, but they all played an important part in my youth and I will always remember them.

  Karen on Thursday, June 30, 2005 at 14:13:00 (PDT)  

The first I heard of Chet Helms, I was a 12-year-old in Lafayette, Louisiana. I read about him and the Summer of Love, going on in far-off California. Despite Catholic school, I thought that was pretty cool.

One day I was riding my bike through the park...I came upon about twenty Louisiana hippies from the local college dancing to a "psychedelic" band. One of them had even painted his VW bug purple paisley! They called it a "love-in"...

Somehow I knew I'd found my tribe.

Fast forward thirty years to 1997. Backstage at the Summer of Love anniversary concert in Golden Gate Park, I finally met Chet briefly as he rushed about with his clipboard. Seeing his white suit and hat, it had to mean he was one of the good guys.

We ran into each other from time to time afterwards. He and his stepdaughter sat right behind us at the Rolling Stones concert (my friend was impressed - "hey we had better seats than Chet Helms!"). There were regular Friday nights with Freddie Clarke's band in Sausalito, Chet there again with white suit and digital camera.

I moved to a loft/art gallery in San Francisco, and we hung out more often in the last year of his life. Art openings, parties, and regular Wednesday nights with Freddie Clarke in North Beach. Chet stopped by my place on election night; he and I might have been the last ones holding out hope as we all watched disaster unfold.

That was Chet - hope, kindness, love, and faith in the goodness of people. The Summer of Love vision is simple and excellent; for humans to live together in peace, with art and music and creativity. These are tough times to hold that vision - yet somehow Chet never seemed to lose sight of it.

There's talk of memorials - concerts, renaming something in GG Park, all great ideas. But I think we create the best memorial for Chet within ourselves - to always remember and act in the spirit of the Summer of Love, whatever the challenges.

Chet really was one of the good guys. I'll miss him.

  Andy on Thursday, June 30, 2005 at 10:54:00 (PDT)  

Doug and Judy introduced us. You were fair and kind to me and those around you. We didn't see one another that often after Maritime Hall and Atelier Dore closed. Occasionally at Judys. But when I saw you it always made me happy. It made me feel like I was here in San Francisco. To me you were San Francisco. This town wont be the same with out you. You were a dear man and I will miss you greatly.

  Nicholas Green on Thursday, June 30, 2005 at 08:31:00 (PDT)  

My name is Drew Scott. I had the pleasure of meeting Chet a number of times, most of which took place at a Merl Saunders B-day bash. I toured with Merl as an opening act on and off since 1996. I'm very saddened to hear of his passsing. I send my thoughts and love to family and friends at this time. Chet was always very kind to me.

  Drew Scott on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 22:39:00 (PDT)  

A Chester quote from 1969

"I can't pay you again tonight, but there is one thing I want you all to remember These ARE the good old days, so you had better fucking enjoy them"

  Richard Phillips on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 22:38:00 (PDT)  

How I First Met Chet.. the single most remarkable experience of my Hippie Daze !

My first weekend in San Francisco, I inquired of fellow Hippies where I might seek to be 'hired' to perform my Magic and Fire Eating act. At the commune that I was taken to, someone suggested The New Family Dog on the Coast Highway.

I had just gotten out of having been drafted into the Army for the 'Nam Mess'... and just become 'Psychedellic' a short time before. Early Fall of 1968.

When I called, someone suggested that I come in the following Tuesday. It was Friday. I asked, oh, well, who is performing there this weekend ? The answer: "Oh, nothing much. You probably wouldn't be interested. It won't actually be a BAND, just some members of the Dead and Airplane are gonna' jam together."

To ME, that sounded like 'heaven delivered on a silver platter', for I of course had HOPED to somehow meet up with both qroups 'someday'...

I arrived and when I asked about a possibility of performing I was directed to the 'performer's entrance'. where I was told: "Great, Man ! Just go upstairs, and look around,. ask for Chet."

I eventually found my way up to the 'mezzanine' and directed to the 'back stage' area... of course, that is a misnomer, for it was 'Above Stage' area. I looked around, didn't recognize anyone, didn't know who was there.

As I stood a bit off to one side, I realized that a trio of very long haired dudes were NOT buring incense, as I had first thought... no, the long wafting blueish smoke was from a HUGE chunk of Hash ! Amazing ! They were passing it around and taking long 'snorts' or 'gulps' from a lump of material like a piece of coal... what extravagance !

They had all been rather tightly grouped together, and I thought they hadn't even noticed me. Suddenly, the one with 'his' back to me turned around and offered it to me, holding it close under my nose... the first thing that I realized was this was an EXTREMELY beautiful WOMAN... not until much later, when they took the stage below did I realize that it also happened to be Grace Slick ! (no pun intended, but talk about 'slick' behaviour !)...

Next, quite a bit more 'fortified' and emboldened, considerably (for I was extremely shy and bashful), I asked if they knew where Chet was... one of the two guys pointed behind me. I turned and found my way into an even darker (all the walls, floor, and ceiling were painted flat black) room, where I found a guy talking animatedly on a phone, standing behind a cluttered desk. He eventually looked up at me, and made a sort of nod in my direction...I waited patiently. Once he finally got off the phone, I explained how I had just 'come up from L.A., and did a Magic act, specialized in Fire Eating, and would LOVE to perform there that night. He said "Wow !" And "Great Man !" and not a whole lot else... told me to just go and get my stuff,. and set up on the 'north' stage. And once when the 'band' started playing on the south stage (opposite end of the long and narrow hall), just go ahead and start my act. I said, but shouldn't I meet the musicians, and arrange some kind of a cue, or such ? He told me "Heck no, man! Just do it ! Wow, you will blow everyone away!"

And, so I did. Afterwards, a security guard told me: "Hey, Man, Chet wants to see you..." And he led me off... I figured, NOW that Chet had ALSO seen my act, he wanted to 'talk business'... no, when I was ushered into the office, located close by the main entrance on the lower floor, I looked around for "Chet"... but I did NOT see him. Least not the fellow that I THOUGHT was Chet ! A REALL:Y tall, and slim guy came up to me and with a bit of an upset tone said: "Hey, man, that was REALLY not very cool ! Don't you know, suddenly everyone sees FIRE,. man ! People started freaking out ! Finally we realized it was cool, but, dude, you should have TOLD US first !!!"

So, THAT is how I met Chet... he of course was NOT 'the guy upstairs', who it ended up was trying to become a 'promoter' himself.

More, MUCH MORE,. of course that I could say and add... but, truthfully, for ME, all the rest of my life spent in The City, along with many more memorable and quite remarkable experiences... like; how I ended up helping to organize 'The Cockettes' of recent documentary fame, all fell far short of being anywhere as dramatically MEMORABLE as that first night when I met Chet !

Oh, and BTW... I met Hibiscus (who created the Cockettes) while living at the Free Printshop Commune........ some of you may have seen our weekly publication, The Kaliflower... but why I bring this up....... we were a completely 'free' social structure... we had NO MONEY for going to concerts, for instance... and Chet had a long-standing Free Invitation for all members of our commune... all I ever had to do, from then on, was go to the performer's entrance and explain that I was 'with the Free Printshop' and I was allowed in, frree, immediately.

Chet TRULY was NEVER 'about the money', and a really generous and kind soul !

Again,. so much MORE that I could say. And, lest it not get mentioned, then too Chet didn't JUST 'promote' CONCERTS.... many a Monday I attended the "Monday Night Classes' with Steve Gaskin. Chet in SO MANY WAYS epitimized 'The Hippie Ethic'... personallly promoting LOVE, PEACE, and Good Vibes !

Matt 'The Magnificent Magician' Savin

PS. I would LOVE to hear from anyone else that can 'connect' with what I am sharing here...

  Matt 'The Magnificent Magician' Savin on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 22:38:00 (PDT)  

I worked for Chester at The Dog for most of its operation working the door. I am sorry to hear of his passing. Please let me know if there is a charity that we can contribute to in his name.

Thanks, rp

  Richard Phillips on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 22:38:00 (PDT)  

Chet was and always will be about what is best in this world.You are gold.

  Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 22:37:00 (PDT)  

The look on your face when you saw the "Hippies Use Side Door" sign hanging on the pearly gates must have been priceless. I'm grateful for all you did to enrich my individual life and for this world. I can't imagine this incarnation without your rich contributions to it. Thank You.

  Bobby H. Christ on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 22:37:00 (PDT)  

Chet was an inspiration. As a teenager I often went to the Avalon. His way of introducing the acts was unique and poetic. If I recall correctly, he introduced either Big Brother or the whole Monterey Pops Festival show that I saw, on a Saturday afternoon.

I'm a gigging musician in the Bay Area. I only recently got to meet him when I opened for the Charlatans reunion at the Sweetwater a couple years back. He was beautiful.

  Ted Savarese on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 20:57:00 (PDT)  


Thanx for everything.....this city would not be what it is without your presence. . ...we will miss you, and you shall always be with us....

Say Hi to Jerry and Janice,

Peace & Love,

  Jerry Abrams (HEAD LIGHTS) on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 15:25:00 (PDT)  

When Chet came to the Family Dog in Denver, for some reason I had the feeling that he floated across the floor. He just seemed so ethereal. I attended nearly all of the shows and those memories are still vivid and priceless. One of my best memories is when I was standing near the rear of the room and Janis Joplin and a member of Big Brother were back there too. The guy patted her rear end and she saw that I was seeing it happen. She smiled at me and winked.

  Judy on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 10:07:00 (PDT)  

He loved Peña Pachamama as we loved him. We wish to give one last long never-ending hug to Chet .

  Quentin Navia  of San Francisco, CA on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 09:44:00 (PDT)  

Well, I feel compelled to come out of a reclusive state here in Marin to honor a man who was so good to me at an important cross road of my life. Very few people know that he had such a personal and influential part in my upbringing:

It was some crazy fundraising event for Chuck Kesey's Creamery up in Springfield, Or. (maybe 25 -30 yrs ago - The Dead came up and played)

I had helped ( as a creamery pt timer) to make huge pots of, what turned out to be - awful tasting communal grub. We were in a field for days, with buses, crowds and music you know the scene... When this nice man, shined his warmth on me. I was young, fresh, topless and despite my companions, quite innocent. He never tried to take advantage of me, and thus we became friends and he was a safe harbor.

The buses caravaned between Oregon, Santa Cruz Mountains (Pacific High School site) and Chet's, Lyon and Sutter home. He was the safe harbor whenever I was in the City. His bedspread, knocked me out - a Grateful Dead rose head that some one had knitted for him.. and remember his collection of stuff ? - like a museum in there.
For me tho, it was safe! This was the most important part for me as unfortunately, my innocence led to many an unpleasant encounter with the opposite sex at that point in my young life. ( could it have been flinging those firm little breasts around that inspired the encounters? sigh...) I was barely legal.

From the vantage point of this now 54 year old, it is oh so clear how he had the opportunity for abuse and chose not to go there. Absolutely gave me total attention and hope, in a way that honored my spirit - not those firm little boobies!

Last time we spoke was at the Fillmore a few years ago. He wanted to talk to Bill Champlin and was asking me to get Bill to see him. Damn, if that did not go well. Some sort of feud was brewing and Bill was adamant about saying, "No." I wanted so bad to please him in that way that one always wants to please their elder.

In loving memory of Chester, a man of honor in my life. Thank You for helping me.


  gina  of  on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 07:52:00 (PDT)  

I am one of the few chocolate hippies who came to San Francisco from New York in 1969 after Woodstock with flowers in my hair.
I remember seeing Chet at the Family Dog on the great highway many times,
I also attended Monday Night Class there, until the Gaskin Family left for Tennessee. We never spoke until a few years ago. I introduced myself and thanked him for the wonderful venue, music and roasted soybeans that he provided at every concert.
Any way, I think we were at a Michael Franti concert in GG park. He asked if I knew Michael, which I do, and he asked to be introduced, I was thrilled that I could do something for him, as he was near and dear in my heart.
A few months ago, he came by Grateful Dead night at Nickies on Haight Street ( every Monday night ) I sell food there. Chet came in the back and said hello to me ( Thanks Moe ).

Chet, I did not know you close up and personal, but I know you will be missed by all of us who's life you touched, including me.


  Barbara A. Barham  of  on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 01:22:00 (PDT)  

Our condolences to Chets family. Wonderful memories of the City and music during The Day. Everything else pales in comparison.
Our deepest respect

  Tim and Sarah Pearce, native san franciscans on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 01:00:00 (PDT)  

Real glad to have shared the planet with you during your life time... hope to see you soon off-world peace & love

  Stephen Yanicak on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 01:00:00 (PDT)  

We all love you, Chet.
You will always live on in my heart.
God bless you, Chet Helms.

  Charlie Lewis on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 01:00:00 (PDT)  

Though I only met you once and late towards the end of your life I found you to be a kind man....I lived in your building on Bush and Mason.....ran into you a few times....and loved the delightful aromas wafting from your front rested.....

  Brian on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 01:00:00 (PDT)  

"May the Baby Jesus shut your mouth and open your mind"
What a legacy!
Happy Trails Chet!

  Tom on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 01:00:00 (PDT)  

Though, I never met Chet in-person, I do feel his presence in my own work as an artist, musician and promoter of the arts. My dad, Bill Leikam did met him and has fond memories of them together though.

May the new generation of artist promoters learn from those before like Chet on how to work WITH artists and promote them right.

David "bug" Leikam on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 01:00:00 (PDT)  

In my view he was the Big Brother in Big Brother & the Holding Co. because like Sam Andrew said about Chet: He named the band. He brought Janis. He brought James. He brought us employment (gigs). He saw where we were going before we did.
The history of this band and many others band more would not have been the same without him.
Rest in peace

  Michael Spörke of Kassel, Germany on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 01:00:00 (PDT)  

I was blessed to be one of the 35,000 to be there at the Summer Of Love, the 20th Anniversary of the Summer Of Love and at the Summer of Love 30th Anniversary Celibration in Golden Gate Park also. 

All three changed my life forever as did Chet Helms - the one and only Father of The Summer Of Love and The First Hippie. He believed in freedom and love and was freedom and love in the purest sense of those words. I went to his Tribute concert and gathering at Maritime Hall. I loved him for his goodness,compassion and humbleness. He gave so much love, music and joy to so many that will never forget it. I know he's in a better place with eternal love, peace, music and joy.

May the baby Jesus bless you forever Chet Helms.

Your Friend - The Psychedelic Pope

  Tom Turley on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 01:00:00 (PDT)  

Hi, all! This is Linda "Kitty" Braskat checking in. I worked for Chet and the Family Dog as the upstairs Janitress, then managed the Coat Check, at the Avalon Ballroom during the last 2 years or so before it closed. Prior to that I'd hung out with and helped with Roger Hilliard and Ben Van Meter's "North American Ibis Alchemical Company" lightshow when it was based at the Avalon. I also lived in a "satellite" Family Dog House at 30 Bourbin Street where other Family Dog folk -- including Chet's brothers Jim and John -- lived.

It has been a couple of years since I saw and talked with Chet. While I was saddened to hear of his passing, it has been good to see articles about him actually detailing the incredible contributions and positive influence he had on the rock-and-roll scene -- and not only just here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I would love to be kept advised of any celebrations of his life and work being planned.

Love and blessings to all.

(whatever it is I'm calling myself this incarnation . . . )

  Linda VonBraskat-Crowe  of San Francisco, CA on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 14:31:00 (PDT)  

Dear Family Dog/Chet Helms family,

My sincerest condolances on the passing of Chet Helms. My thoughts and prayers go out to Chet, his family, friends, music collegues and anyone else that had the pleasure to know Chet. As a San Francisco Bay Area music historian, I feel overwhelming sadness that I did not have the pleasure to meet or write with Chet myself, but his incredible contribution to American music puts me in awe to say the least. Chet's passion for San Franciscos' arts, culture & music shows how dedicated he was to helping put San Francisco as a city, on the map.

I would like to think that Chet saw the psychedelic scene go from it's infancy in 1965 to an everlasting legacy in 2005 and beyond. As a photographer, Chet allowed folks like me who were not around at the time to fully appreciate the spirit of the generation, the life & times of the generation before mine. I never did get to thank him personally and I will carry some regret about this.Having read the statements and reflections from those who knew him best and had the pleasure of calling him a friend, the Father of the Summer of Love will live on forever! On the 40th Anniversary of the Bay Area's finest artists and musicians, this year no doubt, belongs to Chet Helms!

To Chet's family, I am truly sorry for your loss. God Bless you all...........

  "Wildman" Dave Diamond of Dayton, OH  on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 13:31:00 (PDT)  

Reading in the paper that Chet had left the planet I looked up at my husband and said "But he was everywhere. He was the man in the white suit at the Anon Salon. The smile as you walked through the door." Makes me think of when Andy Warhol died and I had long been living in New York and had grown used to seeing him out on the sidewalk handing out copies of Interview magazine. It is so strange to think of him as no longer being among us. A voice and a face from my generation--- fly away home.

  lynka adams  on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 12:36:00 (PDT)  

Chet was a high llama of Electric Tibet. I remember him bouncing on the balls of his soles on the newly sprung floorboards of the Avalon when it was on Sutter and Van Ness, his hair waving to the music. He had the best seat in the house and wanted everyone else to, too. He and I shared some personal adventures and I am grateful he will live in my memory, memory which is inseparable from music.

we spirits dance
we spirits dance



vast oceans are merely creased by waves
deep with cunning are the hearts of knaves
water evaporates eventually the bottom shown
when Chet left the scene his final thoughts remain unknown

  Gary Gach  on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 12:28:00 (PDT)  

Although I have only known him a relatively a few number of years, I feel as though he has been a friend all my life. What a wonderful spirit is Chet Helms. He is the kind of person that I cannot help but want to hug. Some of the most worthwhile and enjoyable conversations I have had in recent years were with Chet, always in some interesting surroundings that we found ourselves in.

I have extremely fond memories of you Chet. I know wherever you are that you,re enjoying the trip. We will all be hanging out again sometime in the future. Until then, take care. I,ll see ya bud.

  Nate Hartman on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 09:28:00 (PDT)  

This is truly a sad day. Chet will be missed as will his energy. I never met him but his life impacted mine nevertheless. God bless you Chet, we'll see you soon.

  Ed Escobar on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 09:03:00 (PDT)  

So very sad to see that one of the icons of everything that defined the best of the San Francisco hippie movement has left us. Chet was a warm and welcoming figure for generations of bohemians and thinkers and artists and scholars who came to him for advice, insights, and history. He dispensed all of that freely, and in so doing made more of a mark on more people than he ever realized. One day his legacy will be properly recognized. He will be missed.

  Nicholas Meriwether on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 08:36:00 (PDT)  


  ANDY  on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 08:06:00 (PDT)  

"may the baby jesus close your mouth and open your mind"

our avalon is now a place of the heart ... peace & love to all

  sharla/belle starr on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 08:06:00 (PDT)  

I remember you Chet at the Straight Theatre on Haight Street in 1968 doing light shows with Petri dish micro worlds exploding onto the screen while 16mm movie strips pulsated with music, incense, bare feet, packs set down after long hitches from Nebraska, doctors from Sweden who flew in to see for themselves this revolution that rejected war in Vietnam, racism at home and King Richard. You didn't come from New York to make money off the scene as others did. You put together the Family Dog Ballroom on Ocean Highway and sand made its way onto the floor. You put together The People's Music scene. You did good, Chet. Be peaceful in your deep slumber.

  John Anastasio of Fairfax, CA on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 00:58:00 (PDT)  

Chet's "Helms" into the music...

I remember so many times wanting to hear Chet speak of so many things to me since I enjoy learning of others lives. It took him a while until one day he seem not to stop!

My most memorable day with Chet was helping him at the Rock Poster show in Golden
Gate Park this last year. He was late and in need of help setting up so I put in the extra
hand for him. During that day I asked Mark Weisman to loan me a cover page from Alan Cohen's Oracle since I had an Idea. I asked Chet to write on the cover what he thought he learned from Ken Kesey's Gradutaion party? This was the title of this particular issue and Chet with a smile and a slight moment of thought wrote " Don't eat the brown acid..." and then another smile! signed Chet Helms.

I will remember his wonderful peacefulness and "tiny" suttle humor he always quietly handled with-in himself.

Thanks Chet for changing the world, changing San Francisco and changing my life by finding the other wonderful people that made a new generation of human beings!

  Dave Peterson on Monday, June 27, 2005 at 22:43:00 (PDT)  

Godspeed Chet Helms. Chet was an icon, a legend and a down to earth love-minded hippie. I met him several times when I worked for Bob Cohen at Clear-Com back in the 80's. When I was growing up and all the great music was happening here in SF - Chet was the "Anti-Bill Graham" the dude who was in it for the music, the love and the happening, not for the money. "Everybody's sayin' that music is love" - Chet, that is your legacy. Sleep well and spin us some good moonbeams - we will all meet again at the jam in the sky!

  Karyn Ann  of San Francisco, CA on Monday, June 27, 2005 at 21:04:00 (PDT)  

saw chet on a number of occasions back in the late 60s at the avalon and at the family dog at ocean beach. he always noticed you and nodded in a laid back manner like he was enjoying your company at his concerts. never forget the light shows and the stage in the corner and the delicious baklava and the people i went with to the many dance concerts on sutter at van ness. what a time in my life!

  craig  of martinez, ca  on Monday, June 27, 2005 at 18:01:00 (PDT)  

I worked in the Avalon as a kid, (talk about luck!) where I would often see this visually striking presence who always had an almost unearthly serene, calm manner about him. Given the tumult and chaos of the Avalon, this man aroused my curiosity! Later, I got to know Chet as a licensee of the Family Dog, making magnets of all the posters that had once decorated my bedroom walls. (Everyone liked the magnets but Chet, but of course I had been warned ahead of time that would be the case!) I would go to Atelier Dore when i could, and savor my good fortune at being able hang with chet and hear his unique stories of the people and events of that special time.
(Did you know that when Jim Morrison played the Avalon, Chet would keep him company in his hotel room after the show, because Jim was lonely and didn,t know anyone in town?). Being around Chet was always a special privilege.

Chet was a special light, perfect in his imperfections, as Michael McClure would say. He would talk about being months behind on the rent, yet he would smile when he said it, calm and able to handle the kinds of insecurities and fears that drive the rest of us into middle-class comfort. He harbored his grudges and could be petty like anyone else, but he was a giant in his kindness and gentleness, and steadfast in his principled devotion to the greater good as he saw it. Chet was a symbol of a world less competitive and more brotherly, more conscious, more loving, than this one - the kind of world he had helped create in the sixties. He gave off that special light that people who are sincerely concerned with the greater good give off. May we all reflect and shine a bit of that light that Chet shined on us. Rest in peace, dear friend. Thank you for all the beautiful things you created that have meant so much to me.

  Mike Zaidlin on Monday, June 27, 2005 at 16:59:00 (PDT)  

In Memory of Chet Helms

In Light - Namasté

  Hammond Guthrie on Monday, June 27, 2005 at 16:34:00 (PDT)  

Rest in Peace Chet!

  Monday, June 27, 2005 at 12:54:00 (PDT)  

I worked at the Family Dog in the ticket booth and I also made banana bread that was sold at the concerts. I currently live in Davis, but I lived up the hill on Balboa Street at the time. I really hope there is a public service for Chet; I'd like to come. Please let me know when this is decided. 

Thanks very much,

  Laura Tapper  on Monday, June 27, 2005 at 11:47:00 (PDT)  

Say hi to Jimmy, whom I met in a Madras print bedspread partitioned living quarters in Noe Valley one year at the kind moment of a stewardship visit accompanied by Harvey. That was thirty years ago and Jimmy and I really never got to know one another. I had a lot of things to do in the next three decades, and evidently he did too, as the paper reported he lives in HI. Please accept my condolences in your time of loss of Chet. Best regards...

  John Lopresti  of Cloverdale, CA on Monday, June 27, 2005 at 10:14:00 (PDT)  

Please pass on my heartfelt condolences to Judy and all the remaining Family Dog members.
I am saddened by the loss of a wonderful human being. As a Deadhead since 1971 I know we all have a great debt to Chet and all the others who made the way possible.
Love and light, music and tears . . .

  Charlie Carr on Monday, June 27, 2005 at 08:58:00 (PDT)  

with sadness i read that chet has passed. with love i know that he lived and was surrounded by it.

  stigere  on Sunday, June 26, 2005 at 19:34:00 (PDT)  

I'm really hoping this is another false alarm...

  Wendy Grainger on Sunday, June 26, 2005 at 19:33:00 (PDT)  

To Jerilyn & The Family Dog,

I just got the news about Chet. I am sad and will really miss him a lot because Chet was such a nice guy and did a lot of good things for a lot of people with his big heart. 

Please let me know any info about a memorial as I would like to come out from Austin. Thanks.

Additionally, if there is a memorial show Chet's old buddy Roky Erickson is doing really very well again in Austin and is performing again these days. I have been helping Roky with his merchandise and Chet wanted to M.C. Roky's last party down here in Austin @ at Threadgill's. They are old buddies from the Elevators days at the Avalon Ballroom and I feel confident that Chet certainly would love Roky's participation, unless other arrangemnents had been made. Please let me know if you would like Roky's contact info.

Chet-the world loves you, as you loved it, and you will be greatly missed buddy.  You were one of Mother Earths great stewards and a great world citizen. Your love light beacon shall always shine and light up the world.  Hope to see you at the next great gig in the sky brother, until then-Happy Trails Chester Helms, and love to and long live the Family Dog.

Hearts and Flowers from

  Kevin Phillips  of Austin, TX on Sunday, June 26, 2005 at 19:16:37 (PDT)  

We first met in 1966.
and many times since.
at the Summer of Love/be-in1967 and 1997.
and recently
at many "gatherings"
the photo show at Famous Melissa's and
art shows of Grace Slick
the Dakin gallery
even at computer expo's in the Moscone even..

I send my thoughts and feelings.
I will dig through my photo archives.

  Kaye Griffin on Sunday, June 26, 2005 at 15:58:45 (PDT)  

To The Family Dog

A native San franciscan, I came of age there in the '60's, and no one better exemplified that wonderful experience than Chet Helms.
He was always at the door of the Avalon to welcome revelers, his presence a part of the very special experience that that place was, and it took on his benign character.
I did not really know him personally, and he did not know me, other than as a welcome guest at his concerts.
But his humanity and warmth were palpable, and will never be forgotten, and his passing is mourned, just as his spirit will always be celebrated.
My condolences to his family and many other admirers.

  Jerry Grainger  of Burlingame, CA on Sunday, June 26, 2005 at 15:06:51 (PDT)   


I lived in Bernal Heights in 67-69 on Elsie St. down the street from Rick Griffin and was a mailman for most of that time. One of my routes had Chet on it and up the hill was Santana and S. Clay Wilson. It was a special time to be able to be in the aura of the psychedelic consciousness and Chet made it possible for people to be 'free' and enjoy themselves at the Avalon, Straight Theater and Family Dog at Playland at the Beach.

I started going to Monday Night Class at the Straight Theater in March or April of '69 and when it moved to the Family Dog we got to see Chet and Stephen Gaskin 'work' together to create a space for hippies to express themselves during that epochal era!

Chet was a gentle soul and I appreciate what he did to open up the consciousness during that time.

Many blessings to all those who helped along the way and many blessings still to those who keep the flame alive for being least in your mind!

Peace and Love,

  Richard Speel aka Rico  of Petaluma, CA on Sunday, June 26, 2005 at 09:56:00 (PDT)   

Family Dog,
Please extend my condolences to Chet's family on my behalf - this too often angry and flawed world was a better place for his having been with us.
Warmest regards,

  Erik A Olson  on Saturday, June 25, 2005 at 23:20:59 (PDT)   


link to
Family Dog

scroll up to read from earliest to most recent
click here to go to the most recent entries at the top of the page, then scroll down
link to
at wonderful experience than Chet Helms.
He was always at the door of the Avalon to welcome revelers, his presence a part of the very special experience that that place was, and it took on his benign character.
I did not really know him personally, and he did not know me, other than as a welcome guest at his concerts.
But his humanity and warmth were palpable, and will never be forgotten, and his passing is mourned, just as his spirit will always be celebrated.
My condolences to his family and many other admirers.

  Jerry Grainger  of Burlingame, CA on Sunday, June 26, 2005 at 15:06:51 (PDT)   


I lived in Bernal Heights in 67-69 on Elsie St. down the street from Rick Griffin and was a mailman for most of that time. One of my routes had Chet on it and up the hill was Santana and S. Clay Wilson. It was a special time to be able to be in the aura of the psychedelic consciousness and Chet made it possible for people to be 'free' and enjoy themselves at the Avalon, Straight Theater and Family Dog at Playland at the Beach.

I started going to Monday Night Class at the Straight Theater in March or April of '69 and when it moved to the Family Dog we got to see Chet and Stephen Gaskin 'work' together to create a space for hippies to express themselves during that epochal era!

Chet was a gentle soul and I appreciate what he did to open up the consciousness during that time.

Many blessings to all those who helped along the way and many blessings still to those who keep the flame alive for being least in your mind!

Peace and Love,

  Richard Speel aka Rico  of Petaluma, CA on Sunday, June 26, 2005 at 09:56:00 (PDT)   

Family Dog,
Please extend my condolences to Chet's family on my behalf - this too often angry and flawed world was a better place for his having been with us.
Warmest regards,

  Erik A Olson  on Saturday, June 25, 2005 at 23:20:59 (PDT)   


link to
Family Dog

scroll up to read from earliest to most recent
click here to go to the most recent entries at the top of the page, then scroll down
link to