I can’t really lay claim to having much interest in the music of the Psychedelic age during its peak years. I was a young family man at that time and my musical tastes were decidedly different. But I have learned to appreciate some of it in the many years since, and I especially like learning about some of the lesser-known groups, like a bunch who called themselves Fever Tree.
Originally a Houston folk-rock quartet that called itself the Bostwick Vines, the group changed it name (but stayed in the plant kingdom) in 1966 when original members Dennis Keller, E.E. “Bud” Wolfe, John Tuttle, and Michael Knust
added keyboardist Rob Landes to the mix. Although their reasons for the name isn’t a matter of record, it’s possible that they were saluting an African tree that’s known to be fast-growing but short-lived.
Fever Tree (the group, not the plant) did have some talented members. Lead vocalist Keller was the hypnotic voice of the bunch, and Knust was a dazzling guitarist. But things didn’t exactly pop for the band until 1968’s “San Francisco Girls” struck a chord with listeners, especially members of the Psychedelic culture. The song was a minor hit and gave the group enough momentum to continue hitting the recording studio for the next couple of years, eventually producing enough music to fill several albums.
But — like many rock groups — lasting stardom was not in the cards. Even though they did an amazing variety of songs, including a few soft ballads and some with a hint of classical influences, they didn’t have any more hits. Even the later addition of future ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons didn’t really change the group’s ultimate fate, and by the 1970s Fever Tree had dissolved.