The Final Solution

The Final SolutionFrom: San Francisco, CA, USA

Outsiders even in a city full of outsiders, the controversially-named Final Solution were one of the most interesting “lost bands” of 1960s San Francisco. More garage than psych – and definitely not hippies – this outfit could occasionally be found as a supporting act for other more prominent groups at various Haight-Ashbury venues in the early days of the scene, although by their own reckoning they played a total of only 50 or so shows during their existence. The personnel included (shown from left to right in the photo above) lead guitarist Ernie Fosselius, rhythm guitarist-vocalist John Yager, drummer John Chance, and bassist Bob Knickerbocker, most of whom spent time as students at San Francisco State University. In contrast to their contemporaries, the Final Solution played mostly foreboding, minor-key material, with the lyrics of their original compositions coming from the pen of Knickerbocker. Making a concerted effort to be different from other Bay Area bands, they played music that was not meant to be danced to and dressed in a manner that did not give off a peace-and-love vibe. Stylistically, they seemed to have something resembling a garage-folk-raga rock sound, while the group to which they bore the closest similarity was the Great Society, although you might hear bits of pre-Janis Big Brother & the Holding Company, the Oxford Circle, and even the Velvet Underground in some of their performances. As for their eyebrow-raising name, Alec Palao explains:

They’d also christened themselves the Final Solution, derived from the the cryptic but meaningless epithet “There Is No Final Solution.” With their solidly middle-class backgrounds, none of the group had any idea of the slogan’s implications. “We knew vaguely somewhere back in history it was heavy,” (explains Fosselius). “I’m embarassed to admit I didn’t realise how much the name could mean to a Jew, especially one (like Bill Graham) with direct experience of the concentration camps. I have so much respect for him in retrospect, how cool he was about it. He’d just say ‘Oh, that’s your name, huh?'”

You can read more about the Solution’s story in Palao’s excellent article in the first issue of Cream Puff War. Click Here For More Info

Other than some all but apocryphal rehearsal tapes (is there anybody out there who has these tracks and is willing to share them?), this recording of a show at the Matrix from sometime in 1966 remains the only audio document of the band’s legacy. And it was almost something that didn’t happen as indicated by the announcer’s introduction in which he explains that they were appearing in place of another band that had apparently canceled at the last minute. Although the audience doesn’t sound incredibly enthusiastic, the group lays down an engaging set with mostly original songs, starting with “Tell Me Again” and “Bleeding Roses,” two compositions with probing guitar work and ragged harmony vocals that recall some of the Great Society’s live material on Conspicuous Only in Its Absence and How It Was – minus Grace Slick, of course. “If You Want” features Fosselius performing a seriously twangy solo on a homemade instrument, a mandolin with a Harmony guitar neck, which he would alternate with his more conventional axe during performances. Derivative as it may be, the garagey “You Say that You Love Me” contains some blistering lead guitar work and rocks hard before segueing into a so-so interpretation of “Got My Mojo Working.” “Time Is Here and Now” is another fine original, and the instrumental “Sandy Nelson Meets Bo Diddley” sounds exactly like its title indicates. The percussionist Chance handles the vocals on a lackluster cover version of Dave Dudley’s “Truck Drivin’ Son of a Gun,” which is redeemed by the subsequent number, another outstanding original, the fuzz guitar-laden “Just Like Gold. “Misty Mind” is actually quite catchy and would have been a logical choice for a single had the band been given such an opportunity. By virtue of its inclusion on Pebbles Volume 22, the rave-up “So Long Goodbye” may be the Final Solution’s best-known song, and – with its wicked guitars and snarling vocals – rightfully so. The set concludes with a brief instrumental take on “America the Beautiful,” which is as representative of 1966 as Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock is of 1969.

~ Taken from an excellent resource for rare psyche.

The Final Solution also featured in the story of the Red Dog Saloon in Virgina City, that is acknowledged as the start of the U.S. psyche rock scene, playing there in 1965/66 alongside the Charlatans etc. See the great DVD ‘Rockin’ at the Red Dog: The Dawn of Psychedelic Rock’ which is available through the usual online retailers.

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From live performance:  The Matrix, San Francisco 1966

The Final Solution

  • Bleeding Roses
  • If You Want
  • Misty Mind^America The Beautiful
  • Time Is Here And Now

Available on: It Crawled Out from the Vaults of KSAN 1966-1968 (Vol. 6)


From rehearsal: 1739 Page Street Studio, San Francisco, CA

  • Bleeding Roses [Live]