Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rick Shubb's house, Waverly Street, Palo Alto, CA

Rick Shubb, though not well known, was a Bay Area banjo pioneer. Around 1963, he was in a bluegrass trio with Ken Frankel and Sandy Rothman, and regularly performed in Berkeley, probably at the Jabberwock. From 1965-67, he had played in the Smoky Grass Boys (wink wink) with David Grisman and Herb Pedersen. As a sidelight, he was a graphic artist, and did a few Carousel Ballroom posters (Jerry Garcia was his former roommate on Waverley Street in Palo Alto. The exact address is unknown.).

Dear Harry,

It was in the summer of '65 when we moved to the house on Waverly. Jerry was there for 4 or 5 months I think, maybe a little longer, before moving to the Ashbury house in SF.  I stayed on at Waverly for a couple months after he moved. I had the lease on the place. Robert Hunter lived in the attic. David Nelson lived there, as did Dave Parker and his wife, Bonnie.

There was some occasional playing around the house, of course. Any playing Jerry and I did (which was not a lot) would have been on two banjos, prompted by talking about some tune, or some technique. This was during the time when the Warlocks changed their name to the Dead. I had done the artwork for Bill's drum head, a colorful rendering of "Warlocks" that was then obsolete. 

I've been doing a bit of writing lately about some of my early memories. I'll steer my thinking toward this particular time period, and see what I can jog loose from my memory to share with you. I can think of a few things offhand, but I need a bit of time to write them down properly.

Was it Waverly Place? That doesn't sound familiar. Maybe street, or avenue?


Just to puncture the myth about unsuccessful banjo players, Rick Shubb invented a revolutionary capo (fretting device) that sold over a million units, and became a legend of a different kind.

 Steve Jobs' home is/was on Waverly Street.

The purple house is long gone, turrets and all. It's a condo development now. The address is 653-681 Waverley.

Jerry rehearsed here in
Summer 1965  Rick Shubb, Robert Hunter, David Nelson, Dave and Bonnie Parker


  1. Rick Shubb lived in at least two houses in Palo Alto in 1964-66. One was on Hamilton (I think 436) long since torn down. The Waverley Street house was purple with turrets--I remember it clearly. It was still intact in 1969 when we moved nearby, but it was torn down in subsequent years. It was on the corner of Waverley and Channing. The current addresses of the condos there are 653-681 Waverley.

    I reliable source says that Garcia didn't actually live at the Waverley street house, although she is cagey about where Garcia might have actually lived. In any case, Garcia hung out there with the likes of Shubb and other familiar faces (Nelson lived across the street, on Channing).

    I think Rick Shubb is the one who gave John Dawson the name 'Marmaduke.'

  2. I've emailed Rick and hope he can answer these questions definitively.