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August 1, 2017 > Historic light show shines again

Historic light show shines again

Submitted By David Hillis

In this year of big 50th anniversaries Ð Summer of Love, Monterey Pop, Sgt. Peppers Ð theres another smaller but significant anniversary to celebrate: 1967 saw the founding of the Little Princess 109 light show, one of the mainstays of the San Francisco ballroom scene.

Little Princess 109 began as a jug band for Union Citys James Logan High School senior year talent show in 1967. Many rock bands at that time had their names printed on their bass drums. The bands rhythm instrument was a washboard, and already printed on it was the trade name, Little Princess No. 109. Logic dictated that must be their name. Founding members included Chris Mickey, Kirk Linstrum, Jeff Hawley, Jerry Radcliff, Jacque Asbury, Vince Green, Gary Lawrence, Rollin Lewis, and David HillisÑLP 109.

From its talent show origins and inspired by visits to the legendary Fillmore Auditorium that spring, by the end of 1968 Little Princess 109 began shining its lights at Fillmore West and Winterland. By the time Fillmore West was shuttered in July 1971, Little Princess 109 projected more than 200 nights of lights for Bill Graham Presents Ð more than any other light show. Over 50 classic posters commemorate their run. They worked with some of the biggest acts of the day, including the Grateful Dead, Santana, Janis Joplin, and The BandÕs first ever public concerts.

In this modern era of computerized lighting effects, Little Princess 109 was charmingly analog. Its 9 Ð 10 members swirled colored liquids inside old clock faces on up to five overhead projectors, while simultaneously hand-painted slides were shown through 16 slide projectors with spinning color wheels, all augmented by film loops from three movie projectors.

After the demise of the Fillmore West, the light show troupe dimmed its lights too and the members went on with their lives, except for a special reunion show with Santana and Journey at the Cow Palace on New Years Eve 1977.

But one member, Jerry Radcliff, 68, couldnt let it go. From his home in southern Oregon, he started doing one-man shows a couple years ago at local clubs, bars, and Prankster events with a couple of old overheads he ran across. The old group had always kept in touch and even reunited their jug band at their 2012 reunion. Inspired by Radcliffs boldness, the group was determined to reassemble their old show for their 50th reunion this year.

On Friday, August 4 at the Swiss Park in Newark, Little Princess 109, with liquids, movies, and slides, will once again light up the night, accompanied by Eddy and The Jukers and The Dead Guise. A limited number of tickets for $15 are available through Brown Paper Tickets. DonÕt miss this rare opportunity to witness psychedelic history Ð blink your eyes in the wonderment of what you see, blink again and it's gone!

Little Princess 109 Light Show Reunion
Friday, Aug 4
7 p.m.: Doors open
8 p.m.: Music
Swiss Park
5911 Mowry Ave, Newark
(510) 872-5066
Tickets: $15
Free parking

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