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Dino Valenti 11/1994

dino valentiNovember 16, 1994 – Dino Valenti was born Chester “Chet” William Powers Jr on October 7, 1937 in Danbury CT to Carnival entertainment parents. He became known by the stage name “Dino Valenti” and as a songwriter he was known as Jesse Oris Farrow in the Greenwich Village folk music scene. His first claim to fame came after he wrote the famous 1960s song “Get Together”, the quintessential 1960s love-and-peace anthem.

In first years of the 1960s, he performed in Greenwich Village coffeehouses such as the Cock ‘n’ Bull/Bitter End and the Cafe Wha?, often with fellow singer-songwriter Fred Neil, and occasionally with Karen Dalton, Bob Dylan, Lou Gossett, Josh White, Len Chandler, Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul and Mary) and others. He influenced other performers including Richie Havens, who continued to perform some of Powers’ early “train songs”. Powers was prevented from acquiring a cabaret license due to an earlier arrest, a requirement that was beginning to be imposed on Village entertainers at the time.

Moving west was the only route left for him, and upon arriving there, he became a member of the band Big Sur in the LA area and later received greatest acclaim as the lead singer of San Francisco psychedelic rock group Quicksilver Messenger Service.

He played in an early line-up of the Quicksilver Messenger Service when John Cipollina, David Freiberg, and Jim Murray all joined this group in 1964. He later rejoined the group as its lead singer and main songwriter. He was busted for marijuana and amphetamines on several occasions and unfortunately had to sell the publishing rights to his greatest composition GET TOGETHER, to pay for legal defense.

In 1970 he tried with fellow bandmate Gary Duncan to start a band called “the Outlaws” which however went nowhere. Back in the Quicksilver fold he wrote eight of the nine songs on the group’s next album, Just for Love (August, 1970), six of them under the pseudonym of “Jesse Otis Farrow”. He remained the primary songwriter on their next album, in December, What About Me?. Despite occasional personnel changes the band released Quicksilver (1971) and Comin’ Thru (1972) before calling it quits. The 2-LP Anthology was issued in 1973 and a tour and album, Solid Silver, appeared in 1975.

Dino underwent brain surgery for an AVM (arteriovenous malformation) in the late 1980s. In spite of suffering from short-term memory loss and the effects of anti-convulsive medications, he continued to write songs and play with fellow Marin County musicians. His last major performance was a benefit at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall on July 27 sometime in the late 80s.

He died unexpectedly at his home in Santa Rosa, California on November 16, 1994, although his younger sister mentioned on his website that Dino was getting bored with life around him and was ready for something new. “The night he died, he called a lot of people…some of whom he hadn’t talked to in quite a while.  It’s my understanding that it was all casual conversation, no revelations, or profundity, or theatrics, but more like he was saying hello one final time.  I think, just as the Phoenix knows, he knew that his time was at hand, and being the “Gypsy soul” that he was, must have felt that such an event was about to take place.  I think, too, that he grew weary of his “home” on this planet, and he felt he had done the best he could here, and was ready to try something else – see the next place, meet the next people, and move on.  After all, Dino was a carnie.

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