SAN LEANDRO -- Walk into Bill Quarry's print shop on East 14th Street and you're surrounded by memorabilia of the 1960s, the back wall plastered with posters advertising concerts by Fats Domino, the Doors, Little Richard, the Byrds, the Yardbirds, and Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Quarry, a retired concert promoter, put on all those shows -- and more, many of them at the Rollarena, a skating rink in San Leandro.

"For anybody who had a hit record, San Leandro was one of the first places they'd stop on the West Coast when touring" he said. "First Los Angeles, then San Leandro."

Quarry's story of those days, and of the local garage bands that were his contemporaries, are chronicled in the third edition of "The San Francisco East Bay 60's Scene Then and Now," whose author is another veteran of that scene, Bruce Tahsler.

A book signing is planned Sunday in Dublin. Appearing with Tahsler will be some members of '60s rock bands with roots in the East Bay: Sal Valentino, of the Beau Brummels; Rick Stevens, former lead singer for Tower of Power; Greg Errico, original drummer for Sly and the Family Stone; Rodger Collins, who sang the hit "She's Looking Good"; and singer Lydia Pense.

Tahsler, who grew up in Oakland, was in two East Bay garage bands: the Talismen and U.S. Male, which played at some major area hotels, such as the Claremont in Oakland and the Mark Hopkins in San Francisco, and even the Cocoanut Grove on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. "And, like all garage bands in the area, we played at high school dances," he said.


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Tahsler, 67, gave up his rock 'n' roll dreams in 1969 when he married and got a steady job, "but I always loved music," he said.

After retiring in 1997, the onetime aspiring musician found himself with time on his hands. He had always wanted to be a writer, and he thought back to what he knew -- the East Bay '60s music scene.

"We all know what happened in San Francisco -- Bill Graham, the Fillmore, all the wonderful bands over there -- but not much has been documented on this side of the bay," he said.

Books by publisher Bill Quarry and author Bruce Tahsler are photographed on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 in San Leandro, Calif.  The pair has produced three
Books by publisher Bill Quarry and author Bruce Tahsler are photographed on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 in San Leandro, Calif. The pair has produced three books on the 1960's rock and roll music scene in the East Bay. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) ( ARIC CRABB )

Tahsler approached Quarry, 76, who was no longer promoting concerts but instead running Minit Printing in San Leandro. The two collaborated on the book, with Tahsler doing the writing and Quarry publishing it.

The interviews for the book took place at Quarry's shop on East 14th Street. Assisting the former promoter and Tahsler was rock music historian Alec Palao, of Ace Records in London. Palao, who moved to the Bay Area from England about 25 years ago, specializes in reissues from the '50s, '60s and '70s. Because of his musical interest, he is familiar with the music of several obscure garage bands.

"Many times I'm told by band members that I know more about their history than they do," he said. "I discovered these groups on records in England. They made records that didn't sell, but they ended up on bootlegs. I'd say, 'Wow, who are these people?'"

Palao wrote the introduction to the first edition of the book, which came out in 2006, and for the third, and helped Tahsler with names of musicians and bands. For the third edition, Tahsler has added 16 bands, including some known outside the Bay Area.

"For the third edition, we branched out to name bands, popular musicians who have made it in the music world," such as Tower of Power and Sly and the Family Stone, Tahsler said.

Among the local bands featured in the book are several that Quarry used as backup groups to the bigger names he would book.

"Local bands played alongside Sonny and Cher, the Byrds, the Yardbirds," Tahsler said. "It was incredible."

Quarry was the first promoter to bring national rock groups to the Bay Area, according to Palao.

"He was the king of the scene until Bill Graham over in San Francisco started getting bigger and bigger and wanted to expand his empire," he said. "Bill Graham had a different philosophy, and he was cutthroat; Bill Quarry was easygoing. He could have been the biggest promoter in the Bay Area, but he decided not to go that route."

Quarry would book many of the acts as headliners at the Rollarena on East 14th Street, which has since been torn down. At the time, the skating rink was the most popular dance venue in the East Bay.

"Neil Diamond, the Yardbirds, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Them featuring Van Morrison -- it's mind-blowing that they played San Leandro," Palao said. "It's like, where?"

'The San Francisco
East Bay 60's Scene'
Book signing, autograph session
When: 2 p.m. Sunday Dec. 1
Where: Barnes & Noble, 4972 Dublin Blvd. (Hacienda Crossings), Dublin
Also: The book may be purchased at Minit Printing, 14251 E 14th St., San Leandro; and The Bookshop, 1007 B St., Hayward