Early in 1980, Steve Kimock joined former Grateful Dead members Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux’s Heart of Gold Band, which already happened to have Greg Anton as its drummer. Keith fell victim to a car accident and the Heart of Gold Band went away, but the connection that Greg and Steve shared has endured. The duo immediately recorded an album of new music which would be released decades later, then started a band. Having gone through many, many names, Greg asked Steve how many were left on the list to consider: “Zero” was the answer, and Zero became the quintessential jazz/rock psychedelic band, a pioneer of the “jam” band scene.
They went years without vocals, creating such instrumental-only gems as Here Goes Nothin (1987) and Nothin’ Goes Here (1990), albums so good that Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab re-released them, and then Go Hear Nothin’ (1991). Along the way they played with some of the Bay Area’s greatest talent: John Cipollina, John Kahn, Banana, Martin Fierro, Hadi Al Saadoon, Bobby Vega, Nicky Hopkins, John Farey, Vince Welnick, Merl Saunders, Tony Saunders, Liam Hanrahan, Chip Roland, and Steve Wolf.
A casual conversation with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter in the early ‘90s sent the band in a new direction, and they added vocalist Judge Murphy. In 1992, when Zero gathered for three nights at the Great American Music Hall to perform their new songs with Hunter lyrics, they had Grateful Dead sound director Dan Healy on board to record them, and the result was the brilliant and beloved Chance in a Million.
As bands will, Zero came and went—and always came back, to the extent of 1,300 shows and eight albums. After their incendiary set at the 1999 30th anniversary Oregon Country Fair, the Fair manager said, “You guys want to be on the 50th anniversary bill?” “Sure,” and they shook hands….20 years later, In July 2019, Zero returned to headline the Country Fair stage.
“People,” said Anton, “used the word magic to describe it. We worked, as Zero does. One thing Steve and I have is a shared work ethic. We played for many hours before each show‚ because the songs needed to be honored.”
Magic is hard to catch but impossible to forget, so Zero flies again.
In February 2022 they will celebrate a record release of more material from those Chance In a Million shows in San Francisco, this time at the Fillmore. Nothing beats Zero.
2/3 Thu The Fillmore, SF