Category Archives: The Kingston Trio

Looking Back

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A few months back David Ganapoler posted an article from the Marin Independent Journal on Facebook regarding the closing of the Trident.  The article was written by Mark Whittington, and here are some excerpts:

“SAUSALITO – The Trident was a symbol of the 70’s that had a special magic. It was happening! The Trident was a hang out for rock stars, with Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, and Bob Dylan giving impromptu concerts.   Hollywood high brows and local hipsters rubbed elbows there with drug dealers and Hell’s Angels.  The carefully chosen waitresses turned heads.   Frank Werber opened the Trident in 1961 (the third version of the Trident officially closed in 1981.  We’re onto the fourth version presently 2014) patterning it after the jazz super clubs of the East Coast.

Werber discovered a folk group in Menlo Park, turned them into the Kingston Trio, and managed their rise to success.  The Trident was one of the groups real estate investments used to shelter the groups money.  Werber also managed to survive several controversial marijuana arrests beating all but one conviction.  The Marin Judge ruled that Werber’s use of pot for religious purposes wasn’t constitutionally protected.  The Trident’s special feeling spilled over to the employees, who had a family type relationship.”

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The “Other” Trident Story!

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Nick Reynolds

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Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Nick Reynolds who passed away at the age of 75. Bob Shane, John Stewart, and Nick Reynolds are pictured here in a January 31, 1967 photo of the Kingston Trio. Nick was a founding member of the Kingston Trio that jump started the revival folk music scene of the late 1950s and paved the way for artists such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

John Stewart

On January 20th, 2008 John Stewart of the Kingston Trio passed away. He was 68 years old. John became a well known figure in the 1960’s folk music revival as a member of the Kingston Trio.18TridentJohnStewartJohn recorded 13 albums as a member of The Kingston Trio, but his biggest success was “Daydream Believer,” a song he wrote but didn’t record. It was a number 1 hit for the Monkees in 1967 and went to number 12 for Anne Murray in 1980. John died a day after suffering a massive stroke or brain aneuysm.

The Kingston Trio web site announced that, “The world has lost one of its best men, but a man who lived well and made many people happy with his love, his wit, and his music!” (see link below)

Stewart joined The Kingston Trio in 1961, three years after the band released its verison of an old folk song, “Tom Dooley,” that went on to become a hit. Stewart replaced the band’s founder Dave Guard, who had left to pursue a new musical direction. After the band disbanded in 1967, Stewart went on to an acclaimed solo career that included recording more than 40 albums. John’s wife Buffy and children were at his side when he died. Memorial services, at this time, have not been announced.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to John’s family and friends. God bless!

Frank’s Cadillac

Hello Stranger! This is Carla Heine. My dad Edmund Heine was chief architect for Kingston Trio Properties. He designed the Trident Restaurant, and Frank Werber’s house on De Silva Island.  My brother and I found an eight car garage full of classic cars from the 60’s in the wine country. Amongst them was Frank Werber’s car, the bright red convertible Cadillac! If that car could talk! Carla’s email is: sonoma1@hotmail.com18TridentFranksCaddilac PS: My Trident memories are not of the Rock and Roll Variety, I came with my dad for the Trident’s famous Shirley Temples when my dad came in on business, However: Do you remember the trap door under the Trident? I remember it. The secret passage into the Trident from Frank Werber’s sailboat. Do you remember the tattoo on Frank’s wrist? I had never seen an Auschwitz tattoo before. I asked him if it was his Social Security Number, and he thought that was pretty funny. Later my dad told me what that kind of tattoo meant. Do you remember when Tommy Smothers spoke as a character witness for the trial, after the authorities caught onto the trap door and the Sailboat trips to Mexico for quality and quantities of some very righteous weed? Tommy told the Judge that he had known Frank for years, and that he was a much nicer person since he started smoking marijuana. The courtroom was crammed, and even the Judge laughed. Did you know that the original Trident wood-worker artists had a working reunion in Sonoma in 1972, when the mortuary that is now Deuce Restaurant on Broadway was converted to a restaurant? All the wood and wrought iron there were done by the same men! Do you remember Ronnie Shell’s audition with Frank for the Kingston Trio? He came in right before John Stewart. After the audition, he said: “Well, I have to go now. I have another guitar lesson in twenty minutes.” The Trident sure was the Eye of the Cyclone! Do you remember when John and Buffy Ford fell in love, and didn’t surface for five weeks? That was a panic! The first time I saw Nick he was parked in his new sports car on the deck-parking lot of the Trident, and he was picking his nose. The last time I saw him was at his son’s little league game. We were lying on the lawn and I asked him why he wanted to move to Oregon. He said he needed the change, and the whole Sausalito scene was getting too built up, and he had had a good run with the Trio, but he wanted to move forward with his own life. He was chewing the white pulp of a green grass stem and looking off into the future. Were you at the Hungry I, when Frank was working there in North Beach as a dishwasher? He was up to his elbows in suds and dishwater in the back, and he heard these three kids from Stanford singing out front, and he cornered them after the show and outlined his plans for them and signed them on the spot, and quit his job. That’s how he told it to me. Did you go to the KFRC Magic Mountain Festival in the late 1960’s? Frank was instrumental in putting that together. He was there so far in advance that he had a big Indian Tee-pee set up just a short distance from the stage. We were burning several jumbo joints, and his girlfriend was a little nervous, because she had seen this black net shirt at Marin Army Surplus Store, and asked Frank to buy it for her, and he said he would, but only if she promised never to wear anything under it. Which was why she was a little nervous in the tee-pee. That was a great concert. We were in the tee-pee when we heard a helicopter, and Frank said “That’s Donovan; he’s always late.” Another great tee-pee line was : “Who the Fuck are the Doors?” And: “Canned Heat and their Canned Shit!” That’s about it from me, for Trident Memories. Carla in Sonoma

Lucky Me

Lucky Me is a self published autobiography by Linda Peacock Reynolds that can be purchased on Amazon as an e-book or paperback. Linda was a waitress at the Trident, and eventually married one of the owners – Nick Reynolds of the Kingston Trio.

This book is 520 pages of the Life and Times of Linda Peacock Reynolds. No punches are pulled in this fun read of life “back in the day.” There is also some serious venting here (not a fan of CS&N), and, some curious insights into another time.

Here is an excerpt from the back cover, ” Morphing into the colorful and exciting Bohemian world of 1960’s San Francisco, where life is a commune dedicated to Art and Entertainment, informs a life long mind set. Chance encounters and a free-stylin’ lover brings me to Marin County, the Sausalito waterfront and the infamous Trident Restaurant where I meet and have love affairs with some of the fabulously famous celebrities that frequented that spectacular venue. Eventually I marry the owner, Nick Reynolds, of the Kingston Trio fame and fortune.”

For Trident afficianados Linda’s adventure at the Trident begins on page 120 and then rolls iinto Chapter 8 – Part Two 1966-1971 – Report from an Alternate Universe. Her adventures at the Trident continues through Chapters 9 and 10. This book is a very personal accounting of Linda’s life prior to working at the Trident, and thereafter. For fans of the Kingston Trio, and the Trident Restaurant :”Lucky Me” is a flash back to another time from one woman’s perspective that’s very revealing in it’s passion and honesty.

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Frank Werber

Frank Werber (1930 – 2007) for more information about please go to:

Frank Werber  and   Frank Werber Memorial

On May 20, 2007 Ken Flagg wrote, “Hello, I found your web site while searching for Frank on Goggle and thought you would want to know that he passed away Saturday in Silver City, NM. He suffered a stroke in February of 2004 and his health had been on the decline ever since. He is survived by his children Chala, Bodhi, Aari, and Miska and two grandchildren. I think it is wonderful that you are keeping his memory of the Trident alive, as that was one of his proudest accomplishments.

From the Kingston Trio web site: “We are sorry to report that Frank Werber, the Kingston Trio’s original manager, passed away at his New Mexico Ranch Saturday afternoon, May 19th. His loss is deeply felt by us all. Frank helped make the Kingston Trio what it was and is today, and was our dear friend for over 50 years. Frank we will miss you greatly, and you will live on in our hearts and souls forever.MUSIC mogul. Trend-setting restaurateur. New Age guru. Back-to-the-land pioneer. Holocaust survivor. Small-town newspaper editor. Defendant in a star-studded Marin County drug trial.

ALEC PALAO on FRANK WERBER:

KING OF COOL’S WILD REIGN By Paul Liberatore, Marin Independent Journal’s June 15th headline

Frank Werber, who died May 19 at 78, was all of those things. To hear the stories being told about him in the wake of his passing, he was a few others as well.

Werber made pop music history as the savvy manager of the Kingston Trio, turning three clean-cut college boys into superstars, the biggest singing group in the world in the early ’60s, igniters of the folk music boom.

He was the charismatic creator of the Trident, a jazz club that he transformed into a legendary Sausalito fern bar and organic restaurant, a “Hooters for hippies,” as one former employee describes it, where the braless waitresses wore see-through blouses, a young Robin Williams worked as a bus boy, the Rolling Stones celebrated Mick Jagger’s birthday, Janis Joplin had a special table by an arched window overlooking the bay and Woody Allen shot a scene for his 1972 movie, “Play It Again, Sam.”

The Trident closed in 1980. The building, at 558 Bridgeway, is now occupied by Horizons Restaurant.

“There was a time when Frank Werber was the center of what was going on,”
recalled comedian Tommy Smothers. “The girls were cool, the place was cool, the music was great. He was a guru, a Svengali kind of guy. He was a guy who could spin a story and make you laugh. With Frank, there was always something interesting going on.”

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Kentfield psychiatrist and jazz pianist Denny Zeitlin was one of the musicians Werber booked to play for the Trident’s fashionably hip clientele.

“Frank’s spirit pervaded the whole place,” Zeitlin recalled. “I remember his energy, his sparkle, his openness to music. I thought the Trident was one of the all-time great jazz clubs. It was as special as any place I’ve ever played.”

In a 1990 interview, Werber told the Independent Journal that those days were “like riding a hurricane.”

“The Trident was definitely a manifestation of its time and a forerunner and trendsetter for multitudes of restaurants,” he said. “Its effects are still being felt.”

Werber’s reign as the king of cool began to thaw in 1968 when he was busted for having hundreds of pounds of marijuana stashed in his lavish Marin County home – an ultra-modern mansion on Richardson Bay’s Da Silva Island.

Reflecting the tenor of the times, his 1970 Marin Superior Court trial was a counterculture circus. Pot was so pervasive in those days that half of the first 10 prospective jurors admitted that they’d smoked it.

With a half-dozen of his comely, miniskirted girlfriends in the front row of the courtroom, the bearded defendant would often appear in court with his long hair pulled back in a pony tail, wearing leather pants and embroidered shirts with hippie beads around his neck.

His attorney, the combative celebrity lawyer Terrence “KO” Hallinan, argued, unsuccessfully as it would turn out, that his client used marijuana for spiritual purposes and therefore was protected by Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.

Among the character witnesses were philosopher Alan Watts, prostitute union founder Margot St. James and Smothers.
“I testified that I’d had some religious experiences with Mr. Werber,” the comedian remembered. “As I recall, we went out and smoked a joint between one of the sessions. That was the mindset at the time.”

The jury, which included two admitted pot smokers, found Werber guilty of marijuana possession. He was fined $2,000 and sentenced to six months in jail. In San Francisco, a federal jury acquitted him of marijuana smuggling charges.

Even as a child, Werber’s life was extraordinary. Born in Cologne, Germany, he arrived in the United States in 1941 with his father. The story goes that they escaped from a concentration camp after the elder Werber was spared execution – along with his son – because he was such a good cook that the Nazi commander didn’t want to lose him.

In San Francisco, Werber developed a talent for show business, managing Enrico Banducci’s famed North Beach nightclub, the hungry i.

During that time, he went to see an unknown collegiate singing group, the Kingston Trio, discovering them at a little club in Redwood City, the Crack Pot.

“Somebody had told him about us and he loved what he saw,” remembered the Kingston Trio’s Bob Shane, now retired and living in Phoenix. “We made up a contract with him on a paper napkin.”

Shane credits Werber with coming up with the Trio’s button-downed image and squeaky-clean persona.

“As much as we were, he was responsible for getting us started,” he said. “He helped mold us, got us rehearsing on a regular basis, got us working on a show, helping us get our outfits together so that we’d be a visual act, too. We went to Stanford, so they had us billed as America’s clean-cut college kids, but don’t think any of us even knew one.”

Werber may have been a wild flower child, but Nick Reynolds, another original member of the Kingston Trio, thanks him for keeping the group’s phenomenal success in perspective, encouraging them to invest their fortune – in the Trident, in a number of homes and properties in Marin and San Francisco, including the Columbus Tower, now owned by Francis Ford Coppola.

“We were the biggest group in the world for four or five years,” Reynolds said from his home on San Diego’s Coronado Island. “We had five albums in the top 10 at one time. The main thing I can say about Frank is that he kept us safe. We stayed in San Francisco, we didn’t move to L.A. We never had any mob scenes around us. We all kept our sanity. I know I did. He kept us together. He was like a second father to me.”

By 1967, the Kingston Trio were on their way out, replaced on the pop charts by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and the rest of the British invasion.

In the early ’70s, with his trial behind him, Werber moved to a little mining town, Silver City, in southeast New Mexico.
“When he first got here, he did a lot of hanging out in the hot springs, playing the pseudo cult leader guru, smoking a lot of weed, probably doing a lot of acid,” Werber’s daughter, Chala, 35, recalled.

“In typical Frank Werber fashion, the first thing he did was open a health food store, the Sunflower, so he could have a place to get good food. It was the first health food store around here.”

After a year or two, Werber tired of town life and moved his family to a remote ranch two hours away, becoming a pioneer in the back-to-the-land movement.

“We had chickens and goats and horses and an organic garden that was at least an acre,” Chala said. “We’d only go to town every month or two. We were pretty much self-sustaining. It was a great place to grow up as a kid.”

Werber eventually moved back to town, rescuing a failing newspaper, the Silver City Enterprise, publishing it for a few years.

But his health had steadily been failing since he developed diabetes in his 50s, his daughter said, and he suffered the first of several strokes three-and-a-half years ago.

When he died of heart failure at home last month, he had his four children around him – Chala, Mishka, Aari, Bodhi – and a number of others who were close to him.

“We all gave him parting gifts of water from the spring, crystals, beads, Buddhas, cologne, good drink and good smoke,” Chala said in an e-mail. “He had the ashes of his dog, Jet, at his feet. He was the center of everybody’s universe. He was very much himself to the end.”

A memorial service is planned for October.

Frank Nicholas Werber Born Cologne, Germany, March 27, 1929 Died Silver City, NM, May 19, 2007 Survived by his children, Chala, Bodhi, Aari, Mishka and Daniel; his grandchildren, Anahi and Mylena; and the children’s mothers, Diane and Cathrine; as well as a myriad of other loves and friends who’s world has become more empty with his passing. His life full to overflowing, Frank was among other things: a Holocaust survivor, refugee, Navy sharpshooter, student of architecture, hobo, beatnik, photographer, music and entertainment entrepreneur, night club owner, race car driver, marijuana advocate, hippy visionary, restaurateur, health food pioneer, single parent, conservationist, newspaper owner and hermetic guru. He passed away at his daughter’s home in NM, and per his wishes was laid to rest the next day in a natural burial on his ranch in the Gila Wilderness. Sometimes credited with having started the folk music movement, and possibly best know as the manger/producer of the Kingston Trio, Werber was also the creator of the famous Trident Restaurant, a 1960s and ’70s Bay Area hot spot which was long considered one of the top restaurants in the country. While many of the most famous and influential people of the era counted him as a friend, fame and fortune were never a most important measure of esteem to Frank. Tiring of the California “scene” he purchased a remote hot springs ranch in the mountains outside of Silver City, NM, in 1974 and slowly turned his energy inward toward the wilderness and his family. Frank will be greatly missed, but his light burned so brightly that those who truly knew him will always feel the glow. A memorial is being organized for this fall. For info, or to offer a donation please contact werbermemorial@yahoo.com
Published in the San Francisco Chronicle on 5/27/2007.

San Francisco Chronicle June 8, 2007

If anyone ever lived up to the image of the swinging 1960s hipster, Frank Nicholas Werber was the man.

The original manager of the Kingston Trio and a successful restaurant and business owner, he had been living it up for several years by the time the Summer of Love rolled around. The bearded entrepreneur wore beads and a tweed coat with a flower in the lapel. There were sports cars, miniskirted young ladies, a penthouse office in San Francisco, sailboat cruises in Mexico and pot.

Lots of pot.

Narcotics agents said six sea bags full of marijuana were delivered to his swanky home overlooking Richardson Bay in 1968, leading to his arrest, two sensational trials and a six-month jail sentence in Marin County.

The charismatic hippy music agent died May 19 of heart failure in Silver City, N.M., where he had lived on a ranch since 1974.

Born in Cologne, Germany, in 1929, Mr. Werber spent time in a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust.

He told his family that he and his father were at one point lined up to be shot by a Nazi firing squad when an officer ordered the elder Werber pulled from the line. As the story goes, the officer didn’t want to lose the camp’s best cook. Because his father wouldn’t leave without him, Mr. Werber, too, was saved. The father and son later escaped, although details about that are vague.

Mr. Werber learned to cook from his dad, and from then on, good food played a major role in his life.

He immigrated to the United States. After high school, he joined the Navy and served as an aviation photographer, midshipman and sharpshooter. He later attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago and the University of Colorado.

Family members said Mr. Werber worked as a commercial artist, gold miner, cabdriver, horse rancher, ski-lift operator, construction worker and press photographer.

He eventually landed in San Francisco, where he met Enrico Banducci, the renowned North Beach impresario who operated the hungry i nightclub. Mr. Werber impressed Banducci and was hired as manager.

He stayed at the nightclub for four years and then happened upon a group of young Stanford singers at a bar and signed them to a management contract. The Kingston Trio soon blossomed into a national sensation, ushering in a folk music movement that lasted through the 1960s.

Mr. Werber turned out to be a masterful promoter. He created a multimillion-dollar recording studio and promotional development and publishing company called Kingston Trio Inc., which took up two floors in the Columbus Tower office building.

He then established Sausalito’s famous Trident Restaurant, which started out as a jazz hot spot in the 1960s. Mr. Werber later turned it into a psychedelic health food restaurant with hanging plants and handmade candles where rock musicians hung out and ogled braless waitresses.

The now-defunct restaurant, on Bridgeway, set aside a table for Janis Joplin, and a young Robin Williams worked there as a busboy, according to Mr. Werber’s daughter, Chala Werber.

“Everyone who was anyone hung out at the Trident,” she said. “He interviewed all the waitresses, and they had to be super hot. They weren’t expected to wear a bra.”

When Native Americans occupied Alcatraz from 1969 to 1971, the pier outside the Trident was used to ferry supplies to island dwellers. In 1974, the Rolling Stones held a private party at the Trident thrown by Mr. Werber’s good friend Bill Graham. It was, according to several revelers, a mind-altering experience.

Erudite and witty, Mr. Werber had a financial interest in the hit show “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” He was active in numerous sports, including sailing and scuba diving, which he practiced often in the tropical waters off Puerto Vallarta.

He was, by all accounts, on top of the world in 1968 when federal agents raided his Marin County home and seized 258 pounds of Mexican pot they accused him of conspiring to transport.

Mr. Werber admitted smoking pot, but said he never trafficked in it. He argued that he was set up by dealers who were trying to save their own skin. A federal court jury eventually found him not guilty after a widely publicized trial. He was then tried by Marin County authorities for possession and cultivation of marijuana.

Mr. Werber was defended by Terence Hallinan, who would later become San Francisco’s district attorney. The trial was a circus. Sheriff’s officers dragged sea bags full of pot into the courtroom, and Hallinan talked about Mr. Werber’s spiritual connection to pot rooted in his experiences during the Holocaust. Celebrities marched in and out of the courtroom as a fan club of young women in miniskirts rooted for Mr. Werber, who, participants said, smoked pot a few times during the breaks.

Mr. Werber loved to recount how Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers testified that he had known the defendant for years and “before he started smoking pot, he was a real — hole.”

“It was a pretty interesting trial,” said Smothers, 70, a longtime friend who got a big laugh when he testified. “It was very stressful for him at the time, but he just moved on.”

Mr. Werber retired at age 43 to an old adobe lodge on 160 acres of wilderness in New Mexico once used by Teddy Roosevelt on his hunting expeditions.

“Everything my dad ever did, he did completely,” his daughter said. “His philosophy was there is nothing worth doing that isn’t worth overdoing. There was never any half-assing in anything in his life.”

Smothers said: “He was a little slick, a little slippery and wonderfully funny and entertaining. He was a guy you would go out of your way to visit.”

Besides his daughter Chala, he is survived by another daughter, Mishka Werber, sons Bodhi Werber and Aari Werber, stepson Daniel Benavidez and two granddaughters, all of Silver City.

A memorial is planned for the fall.

Letter to the Editor in response to the above article:

San Francisco Chronicle
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Saturday, June 16, 2007

Frank Werber

Editor — The June 8 obituary for Frank Werber seemed to damn with faint praise, suggesting that appreciation of a good doobie was the most significant achievement of this singular man’s life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Werber was a pathfinder who wrought still-unacknowledged change within the entertainment industry in the late 1950s and ’60s.

Werber took what were essentially three Peninsula frat boys — the Kingston Trio — and turned them into one of the biggest popular-music phenomena of the mid-20th century. However, it was in his supervision of the trio that Werber established guidelines on how a professional entertainer should be treated. He designed the basis of the “rider” that is used to this day whenever a performer appears, to guarantee an environment respectful of both artist and audience.

He took what had previously been the college lecture circuit and turned it into the college concert circuit. Most significant, Werber avoided the crass exploitation that was the overriding hallmark of artist representation in those days — i.e. the likes of Col. Tom Parker — preferring to take care of business in a classy, erudite manner.

No mention was made of his stewardship of We Five, whose Werber-produced 1965 smash hit, “You Were on My Mind,” was the highest charting single to emerge from the Bay Area music scene until the rise of Creedence, almost five years later. Nor of the Trident Productions stable, an early and prescient breeding ground for many local rock stalwarts such as the Sons of Champlin.

Because, by late 1967, Werber had tired of wiping musicians’ behinds and decided to dissolve his music interests, he is often written out of most histories of the 1960s San Francisco rock explosion. Frank had been out of the biz for many years by the time I got to know him, but he was still as smart and witty and hip — not “hippy” (sic) — as he had ever been. He deserves to be properly remembered for the pioneer he was.

ALEC PALAO
El Cerrito