It was the beginning of the San Francisco sound. On Aug. 13, 1965, Marty Balin a…

Written by on August 14, 2018

It was the beginning of the San Francisco sound. On Aug. 13, 1965, Marty Balin and his partners opened “the Matrix” in San Francisco. It was a renovated pizza shop located at 3138 Fillmore Street. The opening night featured a band that Marty had put together to be the ‘house’ band. They called the band “Jefferson Airplane.” The band rose rapidly to local prominence during late 1965 and early 1966, and it was there that they were first seen by noted music critic Ralph J. Gleason, who became an early champion of the group.

The Matrix was a favorite haunt of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in the late 1960s and was also mentioned briefly in his book, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, during a flashback scene. During this period, Thompson was a contributing editor for the then-new tabloid magazine, Rolling Stone, which was founded in San Francisco in 1967.

The Matrix featured not only rock bands, but several blues artists and blues bands, with an occasional jazz artist thrown in. Besides Jefferson Airplane, many other well-known bands and musicians performed there including:

Big Brother and the Holding Company
The Blues Project
Boz Scaggs
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
The Chambers Brothers
The Charlatans
Charlie Musselwhite
Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen
Country Joe and the Fish
Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks
The Doors
Electric Flag
Elvin Bishop Band
Flamin’ Groovies
Grateful Dead
The Great Society
Harvey Mandel
Hot Tuna
Howlin’ Wolf
It’s A Beautiful Day
Jerry Garcia & Friends aka Jerry Garcia Band
John Lee Hooker
Johnny Winter
Lightnin’ Hopkins
Mickey & the Hartbeats (a subset of the Grateful Dead consisting of Mickey Hart, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, and Bill Kreutzmann)
Moby Grape
New Riders of the Purple Sage / NRPS
Otis Rush
Quicksilver Messenger Service
Siegel Schwall Band
Sopwith Camel
Steel Mill (with Bruce Springsteen)
The Sparrow (just before they changed their name to Steppenwolf)
Steve Miller Band (with Boz Scaggs before he formed his own band)
T-Bone Walker
Taj Mahal
The Tubes
The Velvet Underground
Vince Guaraldi
Bob Marley and the Wailers

The Matrix was always popular with local and visiting musicians, so, on their off nights, many of them would come there to hear other groups they knew or just to hang out. Known musicians never paid a cover charge.

The San Francisco sound got a good kick start, 53 years ago tonight.

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