Weird Herald

From: San Jose, CA, USA

Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane had gotten his start in the South Bay folk scene, where he was friends with Garcia, Nelson and all the rest. Among his San Jose pals were guitarists Paul Ziegler and Billy Dean Andrus. Andrus, a transplant from Mississippi, was reputed to be one of the hot pickers in the South Bay. Weird Herald was the 1968-69 folk rock band started by Ziegler and Andrus, with drummer Patrick McIntire and bassist Cecil Bollinger. They played many “underground” gigs in San Jose, but little is known about them save for one 45, Saratoga James, featuring some spacey acoustic fingerpicking.  The band played at least once in San Francisco.  According to a newspaper listing (San Francisco Chronicle), Weird Herald played The Matrix, 3138 Fillmore Street, on February 19, 1969 with headliners Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady.

Unlike Jorma and Jack, Billy Dean Andrus remains an unheard legend. After Weird Herald broke up, Andrus joined a San Jose group called Pachuco, featuring the even more legendary Skip Spence, and finally a Santa Cruz Mountains band called Mountain Current. In early November 1970, Andrus died of a drug overdose, supposedly after a three-day party at a notorious biker hangout in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Jorma Kaukonen wrote “Ode To Billy Dean” (on Burgers) and still plays it to this day. One of Andrus’s San Jose pals, Pat Simmons, had joined a band called The Doobie Brothers, and later dedicated the song “Black Water” to him, so Andrus’s presence still resides with his friends.

An album was recorded in San Francisco in 1968 and the recordings still exist, but have never been released. They also recorded a four-song demo, now lost.

Information courtesy Cory342 at Rock Archaeology 101.

Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

  • Just Yesterday
  • Saratoga James