The Great Society was a short lived San Francisco band that permanently changed the sound of 1960s rock and roll by using Indian tones and rhythms as well as soaring female vocals. Created late in the summer of 1965 by brothers Darby and Jerry Slick and Jerry’s wife Grace, the band only existed for maybe 16 months and released just one single. Released in February 1966 on the Northbeach subsidiary of Autumn Records, it featured Darby’s tune ‘Someone to Love’ (later ‘Somebody to Love’) backed by ‘Free Advice.’
The band’s first performance was at the Coffee Gallery in San Francisco’s North Beach section on October 15, 1965 (poster at left); their final gig was on Halloween night 1966. By that point, Grace had already left the band to sing with the Jefferson Airplane and the remaining members decided they couldn’t keep it together any more.
It’s ironic that the Airplane was responsible for the demise of The Great Society, because according to Grace, seeing the Airplane in 1965 was a significant motivating factor in her and the brothers Slick forming the band in the first place.
I’ve been a Great Society fan for many years. When I discovered a recording of their June 21, 1966 show at The Matrix existed, I grabbed a copy. It had several tunes I’d never heard before and I realized that I now had enough material to create a short radio special. So in June 2012 during my regular monthly slot hosting Grateful Dead & Friends on KBOO, I dedicated the first hour to presenting a Great Society special featuring a lot of this material. And it won me ‘an award.’