Country Joe & the Fish
From left: Barry Melton, Joe McDonald, Bruce Barthol, John Francis Gunning and David BennettCohen
Dominated by David Cohen's reedy organ, "Section 43" is all fog, space and possibility-a perfect representation of the Bay Area at that time." That's what Jon Savage says in his 1997 Chronicle book, "I Want To Take You Higher", about the August 1966 EP release. Record producer Sam Charters calls "Section 43", "one of the Fish's greatest musical achievements." Joel Selvin calls the record, "the definitive recorded example of genuine acid rock".
David arrived in the Bay area in 1965, just as the music scene there was in its infancy. He came from NewYork where he had been an integral part of the Washington Square folk music scene in Greenwich Village during the early 60s. After playing off and on with several Berkeley rock bands, he hooked up with Joe McDonald and Barry Melton and along with playing lead guitar, became the original organist with Country Joe & the Fish.
David's musicianship was a driving force in the Country Joe & the Fish sound, because as Sam Charters points out, he was "musically more experienced" than any of the other members. His recorded organ and guitar work of thirty years ago still has a unique and fresh sound today.
Throughout the late 60s, Country Joe & the Fish flowed with creative expressiveness. Recognized as the most politically aware of all of the Bay Area bands, they were masters at weaving their poetry into wonderful blends of blues, country, folk and rock. The Fish provided progressive and innovative music, social consciousness, and some much-needed context for an era. "Let's hear it for the Good Guys! "
1967 Country Joe & the Fish poster by Bob Masse