You'll know it as soon as you meet the guy: Don Stevenson has an enviable life. He resides in Whistler, for one. He shares a home with a wife and a little dog. He drives a nice car, if you're into that sort of thing. He plays music, his greatest love, as often as he can.
Some of you may recognize Stevenson as the guy playing goofy roles in local theatre productions. You might also know him as former head of sales at Club Intrawest, a position he held on and off for 14 years.
When speaking with him, you'll see he's an optimist, the kind of man who, at 69 years old, has taken life with a casual good humour, even when it got rough. But Stevenson has a regret you see, and it still burns deep.
He never met The Beatles. It pisses him off more than you know.
Keep in mind, thousands, possibly millions, of people are bummed that they never held audience with the world's most revered pop group, but most of these people wouldn't have had a reason to get close to the Beatles. But Stevenson did.
You see, he was famous — for a brief time in the late '60s as drummer for Moby Grape. They're regarded as one of the greatest rock bands to emerge from the San Francisco scene. Their songs "Omaha," "8:05" and "Hey Grandma!" (The last two of which were co-written by Stevenson) are classics of the era.
Moby Grape played with everyone, knew everyone — Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane. Jimi Hendrix opened for them on a West Coast tour. They shared dressing rooms with Jim Morrison.
But Stevenson never met the Beatles.
"It really pisses me off," Stevenson says now, staring down at his glass of wine at Southside Diner. "A couple guys from our band got to. They hung out got stoned, met John. They came to a couple of our shows when we were in London."
It certainly seems like a bigger deal today, now that the myth of the Beatles has seeped into the cultural fabric as it has, not to mention all the other rock stars listed above. Moby Grape could have had a spot in the annals of rock alongside their infamous contemporaries but, by 1970, it had all but fallen apart. As Jeff Tamarkin wrote in his Jefferson Airplane biography Got a Revolution, "The Grape's saga is one of squandered potential, absurdly misguided decisions, bad luck, blunders and excruciating heartbreak, all set to the tune of some of the greatest rock and roll ever to emerge from San Francisco. Moby Grape could have had it all, but they ended up with nothing, and less."
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