In Memories Awake
For the past 29 years, Chet was always one of my most dependable friends. No matter how far I moved around the country during my life journey, I could always call on him during my good and bad times. His spirit was always full of love and kindness towards everyone. I will miss him dearly but I know that he is in Heaven as he was truly an Angel on Earth. Chet, your spirit will always live on for you touched the hearts of many. We will miss you terribly but I know that you are in a great place. The energy you put out from your life on earth must certainly be rewarded now in that great place we call heaven.
Loosing Chet is just too much for me right now. Some deaths are just too big a loss to take in all at once. I met him again a few years back and all I could think was, he is still such a nice person after all these yrs. Considering the position he held in the constellation of special people from the 60's and on, that's saying something. He made me feel good. He made a lot of people feel good for a long time, and I have no doubt that is exactly what he wanted to do. Doesn't get much better than that.
October 12, 1997
My last memories of Chet were from the Avila Beach show last April. Appearing on the scene shortly before the Jefferson Starship hit the stage, dressed in what only could be considered true 'Hippie' attire, he certainly drew the interest of many (young and old) as he roamed the area, surveying the crowd. A couple songs into the band's set, he wandered up to the front of the stage. I saw Marty do a double-take, then say into the microphone, "Hey, look at that old Hippie!" After the show I went over to talk to him. He was his usual kind and generous self. I asked what brought him here and he said the band of course, but also that he was born in Santa Maria (about 20 miles south of Avila Beach), and that, as he hadn't been 'home' in around 30 years, he had decided it was time to come and spend the weekend exploring what he called his old stomping grounds. Very close to Santa Maria used to be a town called Betteravia which had this large sugar mill, and the town ceased to be when the sugar mill closed. He told me his dad was the manager of that sugar mill when he was growing up. In that moment I learned a little history of Santa Barbara County. I told him the last time I'd seen him was at the benefit for Spencer Dryden up in the City at Slims. Spencer had recently died and he said he felt he had attended too many memorials of late. We both silently paused with thoughts of many who had passed, then shook hands as we parted. Thinking back on this conversation, I find it poignant now that Chet's gone, that he felt the need to go home after so long away, which ended up being (most likely) his last opportunity to do so. But then life is full of these moments if one knows where to look for them! Chet - thanks for everything you did! You will be remembered - as an un-likely hero of our times! ~~ J. Kjos
The last thing I said to you is "be Strong". Chet Was a strong man driven by love and a passion to make it HAPPEN. He made so many things happen. Not just concerts, Happenings and Be-Ins. Chet was a Maker, A Macher, He MADE things Happen with the help from his many friends. Things from the Heart. He lived a Beautiful Life filled with Musicians, Poets, Writers & Psychedelic Light show artists like Bill Hamm.
There was a faint knock on my door, I opened it to Jerilyn - she told me my friend and neighbor Chet had died. Jerilyn also knew my daughter Isabella needed to know, you see she was Chet's friend too, as a matter of fact Isabella has known Chet all of her life, all 4 and 34 years of it. He was gentle and kind with her, she liked him; she was always inviting him places, to dinner - to the park - to wherever she was going. When I told Izzy that Chet had died that morning she cried, and then she looked at me and said, Oh mama don't be sad, when we really miss Chet we can look up at the blue sky and we will find him there. I asked her what she remembers most about Chet, "his smile" she said.
Who says God don't make mistakes,
i loved to watch chet dance... dance on.
I worked in the avalon as a kid (my parents ran the upstairs food stand) and in later years got to know Chet as a licensee of The Family Dog, making magnets of all the family dog posters that had so turned me on as a kid. I would go to atelier dore whenever i could just to hang with chet and hear his great tales of yore, or whatever project he had going on. Chet was a truly special light, perfect in his imperfections, as Michael McClure would say. I marveled at his ability to be months behind on the rent while not worrying about it, calm and able to handle the kinds of insecurities and fears that drive the rest of us into middle-class comfort. He harbored his grudges and could be petty, but he was a giant in his gentleness, compassion, and steadfast devotion to the greater good, and that's why we were all drawn to him. He embodied and carried on the hippie ideal of brotherhood long after the rest of us made our compromises with material culture He was the real deal, and gave off that special light that people who are truly concerned with the greater good give off. May we all shine a bit of that light that Chet shined on us. Rest in peace, treasured friend. ~~ Mike Zaidlin
Chet, you were a being of light long before you transcended this plane, a paragon of the good, the true, the right and the beautiful above - and despite - all else. You were loved, and you will be missed, but you won't be forgotten by those who carry on in the old and good traditions you so wonderfully embodied! Walk well in the next world!
With 'hempen' thread we weave the net
Can you imagine! Flatt and Scruggs at the Avalon. If they are at the Avalon, they must be hip! Chet had such vision. And we all had such a good time. Thank you, Chet, for letting a teenybopper (me) be included with the hip people all those years ago. Enjoy the new phase of your life. ~~ Michelle McFee
For Chet Helms
I was just a young lad during the glory days of Haight-Ashbury, but I was very aware of what was happening and the major players involved. Although I never experienced the Avalon Ballroom nor the Family Dog at the Great Hwy. I knew of these places and Chet Helms.
Thanks for the great Youngbloods shows at the Great Highway and thanks for introducing to me Flatt and Scruggs one night at the Avalon. And now ladies and gentleman, for something completly different Decades ago a Dead-buddy gave me a Hippies Use Side Door magnet, and it's the only one that survives every move and is still on the refrigerator door. He was a friend of mine (ours). ~~ Joe Beresford
Here's to the long ago summer of 1976, to my more innocent days and your sage wisdom. Here's to the warm July nights, bottles of wine, and endless joints. Here's to Doug Sahm, Soap Creek, and Antone's. Here's to your gentle soul, your sweet heart, your tender touch. Here's to your consideration, your intelligence, your vision, your neverending curiosity. Here's to the wonderful memory of that summer that's never been far from my thoughts and here's hoping you carry that soft calm with you, where ever you rest. With great affection and a few tears. ~~ Margaret Moser
Chet was really cool. He'd tell you what he thought. And in his southern drawl and slow, soft voice he might say, 'Jaaaaanette, you can really be a bitch.' Why argue with Chet? And I was bitching. When I think about Chet, I wish I had written that movie-catch phrase You make me want to be a better (wo)man. Ultimately, he has. Chet set an excellent example and we all have benefited. ~~ Janet Parker
I worked for Chet, first in Denver, and then at the Avalon and finally the Family Dog on the Great Highway. I learned and acquired many of my attitudes and opinons about the music business and how to treat an audience from him. He liked to have a good time with music. He loved watching people have a good time with music. It's one thing to do good, it's quite another to go good WELL ___ Ram Dass
Chester and I knew each other from the time we were fifteen years old and studying at the same high school. He and I and two others were the class geeks and Chester spent many, many hours on my front porch, talking amid fireflies and june bugs. I saw him last a year and a half ago in San Francisco. After a long conversation, I felt he needed to hear this and said, "Chester, you really did well for yourself." He would not meet my eyes, turned his face to the side away from me, and said, very softly, "I didn't do so bad for an uneducated country boy, did I?" No, babe, you surely didn't. Rock all of heaven, cause if there is one, that is surely where you are now. ~~ Emily Hodges
I met Chet about the time he came to SF in Page Street. We shared several places in the next couple years Hayes, Pine, Linden and other streets. Gary Marxson death while leaving his soul in Marysville affect us both. It might be a falst memory but I think I introduced him to Lori a friend from LA. I remember his work for LEMAR (who funded this - I didn't want to know). The Clemintina Boxes. The Charlatans. I remember his trip back to Austin and return with Janice who sang at the Coffee and Confusion later returning to our shared flat and having the landlord kick us out the next day). I didn't know Janis or at least well just say Hi to. Chet was my best man when I married in the Family Dog on Ocean - later confirmed in a registry wedding. I last saw Chet the day before I was to come to Europe for a few months (now over 420 months). In moving around during those first few months I lost my addresses (and Life) losing contact with nearly everybody including Chet. I was born 1 year and 11 days after Chet but now after Chet feel so much older. Everyone has been so elequent I can hardly write. Chet was and is respected loved - not a bad life. Love to all those who loved him and love. ~~ Shake - Keith (London)
It's been said before but with far less meaning, "there will never be another like him." And as we bid adieu in various ways, his ability to reach out and love unconditionally permeates the entire nation and has now evolved into the finality of "farewell to The Mayor of Haight Ashbury," - activist, entrepreneur and most importantly, a friend that leaves a void in my heart. ~~ Don Aters - Haight Street Music News
Thank you for changing my life for the better. Thank you for the musical renaissance and for giving us the best of the best. Thank you for the art lesson. Thank you for the Avalon and Denver. Thank you for Janis. Thank you for being there to lead the way . Kindest thoughts and travels Chet.
Went and talked to Chet's Ashes the other day. Beautiful urn. I really felt him. I even asked him if there was anyway to get me three tickets to the tribute. Hey, you can't blame an old hippie for trying. In fact I swear he would have smiled. Since I work close by, I will be stopping in often to put fresh orchids in the little vase. I can only say it's a shame we can't get into the show. But I have a great strength inside me knowing that 'we three' were there in the beginning with you. The best times of my life and I wouldn't have changed it for the world! See you on Monday, Chet! ~~ Linda Appleby
We felt Chet's dreams long before we knew his name, and he helped us live our own, from then till now. Bye ol' spirit, from your thankful fellow travellers.
I am so very blessed to have met Chet and only knew during his last 8 months. We ate many a fine meal together. I took him to see Dylan and Merl Saunders and he took me to see BB King. I met the woman I may marry one day when I took him to Mac World. We loved to vaporize together and he sure liked my volcanoe. What a true southern gentleman. I am from Tennesssee and he realy made me see how that southern kindness could realy take me places in this strange beutiful city. I was at the hospital visting him before his stroke and I said the 100 sylable mantra of Vajrasatva for him as he told me a few stories about the Hells Angels, Bill Graham and other things - but that day I really just looked at him and his soul - beautiful, kind wise and skillfull. Oh Chet, I know that you knew that I love you - now I hope you can see how much. I pray that in some way I can help to keep shedding the light that I could see in those beautiful eyes. I love you Chet and will always miss you - till we see each other in another time and space. May Chet's love, light, and beauty spread like wild fire! ~~ Chris Nance
Chet, Give Janis A Big Hug For Me! ~~ Ricky Lanclos of Port Arthur, Texas
It's funny, I knew Chet casually for several years because he was one of my customers, and didn't find out about his celebrity until after his death. He was constantly inviting me to gigs all over the City and I looked forward to seeing him at my former place of business. I knew he was a great guy and I find it truly inspiring the impact he had on a generation.
I was told of Chet's stroke and I made plans to drive from Idaho to San Francisco to visit him. I was going to be in The City on June 26th so I called Anthony to make arrangemants. I called again on June 25th and was told of Chets passing. I wept like a child but I felt relief for Chet. I was at his 61st birthday bash at the Great American Music Hall and I looked around at all the people and turned to Chet and said "you are like the Godfather to all these people" and he just gave me a gentle nod yes. Anyone who knew Chet could see his kind and gentle heart. He will be missed for a very long time . The last time I talked with him I told him that I loved him and he reciprocated. I miss him terribly. I love you Chet!!
Chet -- he believed in me from the first time he heard me play in 1964. He taught me how to twist a joint, he was my father figure, he was older hippie brother, and he was my friend. I miss you bro. ~~ Squid B. Vicious
Sending much love and light to Chet. May he be at peace.