Sweetwater was an American rock band originally from Los Angeles, California. They were the act scheduled to open the Woodstock Festival in 1969; however, due to being stopped by the police on their way to the festival, solo folksinger Richie Havens became the first performer. Sweetwater performed next, becoming the first band to perform at the festival.
The band originally formed to perform in local coffee houses in Los Angeles until being signed to a major label. Sweetwater were early developers of the psychedelic rock/fusion style that was popularized by Jefferson Airplane to be regarded as the archetype "60s Sound". In 1968-69, the band often toured with The Doors. They were also one of the opening acts for Eric Burdon and the Animals in 1968. One of their best-known recordings is a version of the traditional folk song "Motherless Child". It appeared on their debut album, Sweetwater, the band's only album to chart nationally in the U.S.. As the band progressed, they developed music more toward the psychedelic folk genre.
The original members of the band were Nancy "Nansi" Nevins (lead vocals/guitar), August Burns (cello), Albert Moore (flute/backing vocals), Alan Malarowitz (drums), Elpidio Cobian (conga drums), Alex Del Zoppo (keyboards) and Fred Herrera (bass). The band's size was unusual for the period, having eight, but with the additional members, they were able to create a more unique sound in recordings and live.
On December 8, 1969, three days after Sweetwater performed on The Red Skelton Show, singer Nansi Nevins was severely injured in a car accident, which stopped the progress of the band. Nansi experienced brain damage for some years following the collision, and one of her vocal cords was permanently damaged. Nansi would never again complete a full album with the band, although she still had some recordings prepared for the next two albums.
The group reunited for Woodstock '94 in 1994 with three original members - Nevins, Herrera and Del Zoppo. August Burns died in the 1980s, Alan Malarowitz was killed in a car crash in 1981, Albert Moore died of pneumonia in 1994. Elpidio Cobian works as a film statist. In 1999, the band's story was depicted in a VH1 TV-movie called Sweetwater: A True Rock Story. Amy Jo Johnson portrayed Nansi Nevins, while Michelle Phillips portrayed an older Nancy.
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