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July 2, 2008 > Book Review: Garage Bands from the 60s: Then and Now

Book Review: Garage Bands from the 60s: Then and Now

By Robert A. Garfinkle

Garage Bands From the 60's: Then and Now, 2nd edition, by Bruce Tahsler (Teens N' Twenties Publication), 2007. Pp. 144, illustrations, 22.75 x 15 cm. Price $13.00 (softcover; ISBN 1-4243-1813-0)

Do you remember the bands Tom Thumb and the Hitchhikers, The Savonics, Harbinger Complex, The Epics, Filet of Soul, Nymbus, the Chessmen, or Tower of Power? If you do, then you were a participant in the local 1960s music scene when the hotbed of new musical talent rocked and rolled the East Bay side of the San Francisco Bay. A number of young garage bands played at venues from Oakland to Hayward. Many of these bands also performed gigs in San Francisco and all over Northern California, but the East Bay remained home base. If you were a participant in that scene, then this book will bring back memories of your youth.

For a number of years, my daughter has taken voice lessons from Jim "Guitar" Bedford at Bedford Studios in Castro Valley. One day, he handed me a copy of this book and what a rush it was to go back to those days when, as a teenager, I watched or danced to many of the bands showcased in the book, and drove my hot rod up and down "The Strip" (East 14th Street from 150th in San Leandro south to Karl's Drive-In just south of the freeway 238 overpass in Hayward). I knew that Jim had played guitar in local bands beginning in the late 50s. As one of the prim movers of this era, Jim Bedford is profiled in the book. I may have even seen him making music on one of those rock and roll nights.

The book is loaded with images of posters, flyers, and the players (then and now). The members of many of the bands are listed, the histories of the bands are covered, and in many cases the local author, Bruce Tahsler, tells what the musicians are up to now. Some band members still make music together on a regular basis and some have simply drifted away from playing music altogether. Most of the historical images in the book came from the collection of the East Bay's premier rock 'n roll promoter, Bill Quarry.

This book was a lot of fun to read. I recommend it to anyone interested in the garage bands of that era, or want to know more about what the East Bay music scene was like in the 60s. Most of the headlines went to the San Francisco bands, but the East Bay had its share of great musicians as well.

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