Dave Torbert, Matthew Kelly, Bob Weir, Rob Hoddinott, Chris Herold (1976)


Kingfish - that's a big fish by definition. Despite the name, the band Kingfish never was big in terms of chart success. So what makes it, that Kingfish is still well known in the Bay Area and beyond? Some might argue that it is the Bob Weir/Grateful Dead connection that keeps the interest in Kingfish. There is more though ...

Kingfish's story has to start with Matthew Kelly (harp/guitar/vocals) who had his own band St. Matthews Blues Band in the early 60s. Dave Torbert (bass) and Chris Herold (drums) played in The New Delhi River Band at that time (1967) - a band that also featured David Nelson. Kelly joined this band and soon started a new band with Dave and Chris which they called Shango. This band lasted a few months only and when they disbanded Matthew, Dave and Chris became the backing band for singer/actor Don Johnson. Under the name Horses they recorded the LP "Album Number One" which included songs that would become Kingfish standards later: "Cheyenne", "Jump For Joy" (then called "Run Rabbit Run"), "Overnight Bag" and "Asia Minor".

The next band wasn't Kingfish though. When the Horses disbanded the members choose different directions. Dave Torbert would join the New Riders of the Purple Sage and Matthew Kelly would leave the States and try his luck in Great Britain. There he joined the group Gospel Oak, played rock and blues songs and recorded one album with this band in 1970. Kelly left Gospel Oak in 1971 and returned to California where he renewed his old connections. Together with Chris Herold he started the group Mountain Current which would turn into Lonsome Janet in 1972. This later band had Robbie Hoddinott on guitar and caused Dave Torbert to leave the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Once Torbert joined the band it finally got it's name Kingfish.

This very short summary of pre-Kingfish times shows that Kingfish's musicians have been around for some time. The first Kingfish line-up included Matthew Kelly, Chris Herold, Dave Torbert, Robbie Hoddinott and Mick Ward (who had also been playing keyboards in Mountain Current/Lonesome Janet). Together they went into a studio and started recording. They also played well received gigs in the Bay Area. It was a major setback when Mick Ward died in a car accident in 1973. This wasn't the end of Kingfish though, the four remaining musicians kept working together. In 1974 Grateful Dead's Bob Weir (longtime boyhood pal of Matthew) joined Kingfish. Weir's arrival had two major impacts which can be seen as a blessing and a curse: a) Kingfish got a recording contract with the Dead label Round Records and b) from now on they were often identified as Bob Weir's backing band.

As a matter of fact, Bob Weir (who never saw Kingfish as a Dead offshoot) was an active Kingfish member for a short time only and recorded the first two albums with them. He would contribute to later albums as guest artist only. He left Kingfish at the end of 1976 to fulfill his Grateful Dead commitments. Kingfish's third album "Trident" saw more line-up changes as Robbie Hoddinott also left the band ... actually Kingfish's line-up was ever changing since these times with Matthew Kelly being the only constant factor. Thus it is not wrong to say: Kingfish = Matthew Kelly. This is also the reason why Kelly's solo album "A Wing And A Prayer" is listed in the discography underneath as it features many musicians who also played with Kingfish.

More Kingfish:


Dave Margen, Garth Weber, Rahni Raines, Barry Flast, Matthew Kelly, Bill Kreutzmann


Steve Evans, Barry Flast, Anna Rizzo, Matthew Kelly, Jimmy Sanchez, Steve Kimock


Matthew Kelly, Steve Evans, Garth Webber, Jimmy Sanchez,
Anna Rizzo, Bob Weir, Barry Flast

Due to the Bob Weir/Grateful Dead connection several Kingfish albums were released on Relix Records in the 80s. The 1985 release "Kingfish" contains previously unreleased material from Kingfish's birth in 1973 until 1980. With this release it becomes very obvious that there have always been more musicians involved in Kingfish than the picture on top of this page would show us. One of the first recordings was "Mess Around" in 1973, a song that includes Patti Cathcart and Barry Flast among others - thus it is not wrong if both claim to be Kingfish founding members - at least they have been members of Kingfish's earliest configuration. The other pictures above and the names mentioned in the discography underneath underline that Kingfish always had many faces and cannot be reduced to a Bob Weir backing band - which can only be a product of a 'dead head' anyhow. Thus it is the many musicians who played with Kingfish that make this band so interesting.

At the end of the 70s Kingfish tried to record a fourth album but couldn't find a label to release it. Subsequently Kingfish disbanded in 1980. Although, Matthew Kelly would bring the band together one more time in 1984 for a final "Farwell Tour" to honor the dead Kingfish members Mick Ward and Dave Torbert. The latter had died the previous year of a heart attack. The resulting live album "Alive In Eighty Five" is once again very blues orientated, which is also true of Matthew Kelly's 1987 solo album "A Wing And A Prayer". Many of the other Kingfish releases mentioned in the discography underneath like "Kingfish: From The Front Row ... Live" feature a recording from the Beacon Theatre, April 3, 1976. The concert features Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and includes versions of Weir's Grateful Dead songs, "Lazy Lightning/Supplication" and "One More Saturday Night" - which also explains why this concert has been released so many times. Still this concert is an outstanding Kingfish performance and shouldn't be missing in any good Bay Area bands collection.

Last but not least, it should be mentioned that Kingfish released a studio album with new material in 1999. The album is entitled "Sundown On The Forest" and once again features many famous Bay Area musicians who have played with Kingfish over the years. The Grateful Dead connection (Weir/Garcia) can be found as well and new members like Jenni Muldaur add to Kingfish's rich sound - Bay Area music at its best!


Kingfish/Matthew Kelly Discography

  • 1976 Kingfish
  • 1977 Live'n'Kickin'
  • 1978 Trident
  • 1985 Kingfish (1973-80)
  • 1985 Alive In Eighty Five
  • 1987 A Wing And A Prayer (Matthew Kelly)
  • 1995 Kingfish In Concert
  • 1997 Relix's Best Of Kingfish
  • 1997 Live In New York
  • 1999 Sundown On The Forest
  • 2000 Kingfish Live
  • 2003 From The Front Row... Live
  • 2003 Greatest Hits Live
  • 2004 I Hear You Kockin'


    (Round Records 1976)
    Lazy Lightnin' -- Supplication -- Wild Northland -- Asia Minor -- Home To Dixie -- Jump For Joy -- Good-Bye Yer Honor -- Big Iron -- This Time -- Hypnotize -- Bye And Bye

    Musicians: Matthew Kelly, Robbie Hoddinott, Dave Torbert, Chris Herold, Bob Weir; J.D. Sharp, Pablo Green


    (Jett Records 1977)
    Good Bye Yer Honor -- Juke -- Mule Skinner Blues -- I Hear You Knocking -- Hypnotize -- Jump For Joy -- Overnight Bag -- Jump Back -- Fingerpop -- Around And Around

    Musicians: Matthew Kelly, Dave Torbert, Robbie Hoddinott, Chris Herold, Bob Weir

    Recorded live at the Roxy in Hollywood.

    Out of print!

    (Jett Records 1978)
    Hard To Love Somebody -- Cheyenne -- Hurricane -- My Friend -- Magic Eyes -- Movin' Down The Highway -- Hawaii -- You And I -- Feels So Good -- Take It Too Hard

    Musicians: Dave Torbert, Matthew Kelly, Michael O'Neill, Bob Hogins, Joe English; John Hug, David Perper, Johnny Sandlin

    Kingfish (1973-1980)

    (Relix Records 1985)
    Mess Around -- Put Your Hand On Me Baby -- My Pledge Of Love -- Taste Of The Devil -- Fox On The Run -- Feels So Good -- Hidden Charms -- School Days -- Road Runner -- Young Blood -- Promised Land -- Key To The Highway

    Musicians: Dave Torbert, Matthew Kelly, Robbie Hoddinott, Chris Herold, Mick Ward, Michael O'Neill, Bob Weir, Barry Flast, Dave Perper; Patti Cathcart, John Lee Hooker, Michael Bloomfield, Garth Webber, Fred Campbell, Barry Frost, David Rea, Jim Weiss

    Alive In Eighty FiveKingfish
    Alive In Eighty Five

    (Relix Records 1985)
    Big Boss Man -- Dancing In The Streets -- Rip It Up -- Holy Cow -- Rumor At The Honky Tonk -- Money Honey -- Statesboro Blues -- 40 Days And 40 Nights

    Recorded at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley

    Musicians: Matthew Kelly, Robbie Hoddinott, Barry Flast, David Perper, Garth Webber, Steve Evans

    A Wing And A PrayerMatthew Kelly
    A Wing And A Prayer

    (Relix Records 1987)
    Eyes Of The Night -- Mona -- Dangerous Relations -- Over And Over -- Shining Dawn -- I Got To Be Me -- It Ain't Easy -- Riding High -- Next Time -- Mess Around -- Harpoon Magic -- If That's The Way

    Musicians: Matthew Kelly, Mick Ward, Dave Torbert, Robbie Hoddinott, Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, Billy Kreutzmann, Nicky Hopkins, Brent Mydland, David Nelson, Buddy Cage, Donny Baldwin, Mike Bloomfield, John Cipollina, Patty Cathcart, Scotty Quigley, Keith Godchaux, Buddy Cochral, David Perper, Bobby Cochran, Sam Clayton, Jerry Miller, Jerry Martini, Barry Flast, Rahni Kugal, Stan Cotey, Colby Pollard, Ron Eglit, Rahni Rains, Bob Wright, Mark Nielson, Fred Campbell, San Mateo Baptist Church Choir, Scotty Quick, Dave Vogel, Bill Cutler, Mel Brown, Michael O'Neil, Mark Naftalin

    Kingfish In ConcertKingfish
    Kingfish In Concert

    (King Biscuit Flower Hour Records 1995)
    Mystery Train -- Juke -- Jump Back -- Battle Of New Orleans -- Goodbye Yer Honor -- Big Iron -- I Hear You Knockin' -- All I Need Is Time -- Around And Around -- C.C. Rider -- Home To Dixie -- Hidden Charm -- Bye And Bye -- Promised Land -- Lazy Lightning/Supplication -- Jump For Joy -- Asia Minor -- New Minglewood Blues -- One More Saturday Night

    Recorded on April 3, 1976 at the Beacon Theater, New York City

    Musicians: Matthew Kelly, David Torbert, Robbie Hoddinott, Chris Herold, Bob Weir

    This release has different covers (mouse over for 1996 cover)

    Relix's Best of KingfishKingfish
    Relix's Best Of Kingfish

    (Relix Records 1997)
    Statesboro Blues -- Next Time You See Me -- Hidden Charms -- School Days -- Dangerous Relations -- If That's the Way -- Put Your Hand on Me, Babe -- Money Honey -- Mona -- Riding High -- Taste of the Devil -- Rip It Up -- Key to the Highway
    A Night In New YorkKingfish
    A Night In New York

    (Relix Records 1997)
    Overnight Bag -- Jump for Joy -- Jump Back -- Juke -- Right Direction -- Asia Minor -- Hypnotize -- Taste of the Devil -- Rattlesnake -- Good-Bye Yer Honor -- I Hear You Knockin' -- Key to the Highway -- Battle of New Orleans -- Sea Cruise

    Recorded live at My Father's Place, New York in 1975 (?)

    Sundown On The ForestKingfish
    Sundown On The Forest

    (Phoenix Rising 1999)
    Hurt Enough -- Sundown On The Forest -- It Don't Take Much -- Burning In My Heart -- Ridin' High -- Padlock Cufflinks -- Good-Bye, So Long -- Every Little Light -- Eyes Of The Night -- It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry -- My Baby Left Me -- Tennessee Blues -- Starship Ride -- Jump For Joy

    Musicians: Matthew Kelly, Robbie Hoddinott, Rick Anderson, Fred Campbell, Caitlen Cornwell, Jerry Cortez, Bill Cutler, Greg Douglass, Zoe Ellis, Barry Flast, Jerry Garcia, Steve Kimock, Jenni Muldaur, James A. Nelson III, Eric Parker, Ray Parnell, David Perper, Jimmy Pew, Robert Powell, Danny Rio, Ari Rios, Ana Rizzo, Jimmy Sanchez, Mookie Siegel, David Simon-Baker, Barry Sless, Bobby Vega, Bob Weir


    (EMI 2000)
    Mystery Train/ Mule Skinner Blues Medely -- Big Iron -- I Hear You Knockin' -- C.C. Rider -- Promised Land -- Lazy Lightning/Supplication Medley -- New Minglewood Blues -- One More Saturday Night -- Bye and Bye -- Around and Around

    Musicians: Matthew Kelly, David Torbert, Robbie Hoddinott, Chris Herold, Bob Weir

    From The Front Row... LiveKingfish
    From The Front Row... Live 

    (DVD-Audio: Silverline Records 2003)
    Home To Dixie -- I Hear You Knockin' -- Lazy Lightning/Supplication -- Asia Minor -- Jump For Joy -- New Minglewood Blues -- Around and Around -- One More Saturday Night -- Hidden Charm -- Bye and Bye -- C.C. Rider -- Mule Skinner Blues -- Mystery Train - Juke -- Jump Back -- Battle Of New Orleans -- Goodbye Yer Honor -- All I Need Is Time -- Big Iron -- Promise Land

    Recorded at New York City's Beacon Theater on April 3, 1976.

    Musicians: Matthew Kelly, David Torbert, Robbie Hoddinott, Chris Herold, Bob Weir

    DVD-Audio features: 24bit/96kHz DVD-Audio and 24bit/48kHz Dolby Digital 5.1 options -- Stunning 5.1 surround sound -- Liner notes -- Artist Photos -- Plays on ALL DVD players

    only available
    Greatest Hits LiveKingfish
    Greatest Hits Live

    (King Biscuit 2003)
    Mystery Train -- Mule Skinner Blues -- Juke -- Jump Back -- Goodbye Yer Honor -- I Hear You Knockin' -- Around and Around -- Hidden Charms -- Bye and Bye -- Promised Land -- Lazy Lightning/Supplication -- Jump For Joy -- One More Saturday Night

    Musicians: Matthew Kelly, David Torbert, Robbie Hoddinott, Chris Herold, Bob Weir

    Repackaging contains highlights from a vintage live Kingfish show at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on April 3, 1976.

    I Hear You Knockin'Kingfish
    I Hear You Knockin'

    (Disky Records 2004)
    Juke -- Goodbye Your Honor -- Battle of New Orleans -- Big Iron -- Jump Back -- I Hear You Knockin' -- Around And Around -- All I Need Is Time -- Mystery Train/Mule Skinner Blues.

    Musicians: Matthew Kelly, David Torbert, Robbie Hoddinott, Chris Herold, Bob Weir

    Once again: Selection of Kingfish's show at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on April 3, 1976.


    Further Links:

  • Kingfish @ Rockpalast
         Kingfish's Rockpalast concert in Germany - has a few pictures as well.

  • Detailed bio of Matthew Kelly
         Old Phoenix Rising website for Kingfish

  • Interview with Matthew Kelly
         Kelly about Kingfish


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