The life and times of Quicksilver Messenger Service's John Cipollina

John Cipollina
(Image credit: Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns/Getty Images)

Cippolina embodied everything embedded in the term “rock guitar god.” Tall and slender – with long, dark, side-parted hair framing a pair of model-quality cheekbones – he stood out even among the colorful cast of wildly talented characters who made up the San Francisco psychedelic music scene of the mid to late '60s.

His amp rig was like something out of Tom Wolfe’s Kandy-Kolored Tangerine Stream-Flake Streamline Baby – a hybrid tube/transistor stereo tower of tone, crowned with gleaming metal horns and flashing automotive lights. You half expected the thing to sprout massive tires and go roaring off down the highway. 

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Alan di Perna

In a career that spans five decades, Alan di Perna has written for pretty much every magazine in the world with the word “guitar” in its title, as well as other prestigious outlets such as Rolling Stone, Billboard, Creem, Player, Classic Rock, Musician, Future Music, Keyboard, and He is author of Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits, Green Day: The Ultimate Unauthorized History and co-author of Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Sound Style and Revolution of the Electric Guitar. The latter became the inspiration for the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibition “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll.” As a professional guitarist/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist, Alan has worked with recording artists Brianna Lea Pruett, Fawn Wood, Brenda McMorrow, Sat Kartar and Shox Lumania.