David LaFlamme, Leader of San Francisco’s It’s a Beautiful Day, Dies

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David LaFlamme, the violinist and singer who led It’s a Beautiful Day, the San Francisco band of “White Bird” fame, has died. His passing on August 6, 2023, at a health care facility, was confirmed by a niece, Chantelle LaFlamme, on Facebook, who wrote, “Thought there might be some people in this group that would know my uncle David LaFlamme from the band It’s a Beautiful Day. He passed away yesterday. Now he can play for his momma in heaven.” His daughter, Kira, later confirmed the cause of death to be complications from Parkinson’s disease from which LaFlamme had been battling for some time. He was 82.

David LaFlamme (Photo from his Facebook page)

It’s a Beautiful Day was formed in 1967 with David LaFlamme playing violin, an instrument that was still unusual within a rock band in that era, along with his wife Linda LaFlamme on keyboards, vocalist Pattie Santos, guitarist Hal Wagenet, bassist Mitchell Holman, and drummer Val Fuentes. The band was booked often at local San Francisco area venues by promoters such as Bill Graham and Chet Helms, and was signed to Columbia Records, releasing its self-titled debut album in 1969. That LP included the track “White Bird,” written by both LaFlammes,which became an FM radio staple due in large part to its stirring instrumental break dominated by David LaFlamme’s soaring violin solo.

The second album by It’s a Beautiful Day, 1970’s Marrying Maiden, included a guest appearance by fellow San Franciscan Jerry Garcia on two tracks, playing banjo and pedal steel guitar. Two more Columbia studio releases, 1971’s Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime and 1973’s It’s a Beautiful Day… Today, followed, along with the live It’s a Beautiful Day at Carnegie Hall in ’72.

Related: Which other musical artists have passed in 2023?

David LaFlamme was born May 4, 1941, in New Britain, Conn., but grew up mostly in Salt Lake City, Utah. He moved to San Francisco after a stint in the Army, where he formed the band with his then-wife Linda. (The couple split in 1969 and Linda left the band.)

Related: 10 great ‘Live at the Fillmore’ albums

It’s a Beautiful Day was included in the documentary film Fillmore, which covered the final days of the famed San Francisco music venue Fillmore West in 1971. The group split in 1973, but later re-formed with new membership, David LaFlamme remaining the only constant into the present era. He occasionally recorded under the group’s name for various labels, and also maintained a solo career, releasing several solo albums and working with other bands.

Jeff Tamarkin

12 Comments so far

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    #1 MUDDYWATERSMANN 9 August, 2023, 00:51

    SAD NEWS 4 me! loved this band, esp 1st album and all those songs live too! Still listen to it often and regularly, and turned many friends on to it…a standard for all times…unique indeed! ‘for those who love, sweet time /sweet love is eternity.. GOD BLESS you, DAVID! RIP!

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  2. Jimmy
    #2 Jimmy 9 August, 2023, 01:48

    Yes , this was one of my favorite songs of the era. After all the other great music and parties, this song took my attention. It was a change and much needed knowing that I don’t have to be a hard rocker all the time. This song relaxed me and kept my interest in songs that are long playing and soothing to the soul. God bless you David LaFlamme. Did he have a relative in Holyoke, Massachusetts ? Great music, thanks, james

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  3. Cisley
    #3 Cisley 9 August, 2023, 01:50

    Thank you for sharing this information. I had that album and to me, White Bird really was an exceptional track.

    I was thinking today how fortunate I was to be born during the era of music.

    Reply this comment
  4. Tom
    #4 Tom 9 August, 2023, 04:54

    A sad day…. RIP David LaFlamme. His music was a big part of many lives and his memory will live on through it.

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  5. Y
    #5 Y 9 August, 2023, 07:17

    A GREAT group that deserved more.
    Play on, Mr La Flamme, as you have a prime spot in heaven’s band.

    Reply this comment
  6. Mak
    #6 Mak 9 August, 2023, 07:32

    I was a fan back in the day. IBD seemed to be kind of polarizing. I don’t think they are in the RR HoF? Guess they didn’t meet Yawn Weiner’s appreciation. 🙁 He was a hell of a violin player.

    Reply this comment
  7. Montana Red
    #7 Montana Red 10 August, 2023, 11:34

    You forgot to note that he first played in SF with the bizarre band where I first met him playing in park, the Orkustra.

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  8. Jbr
    #8 Jbr 10 August, 2023, 14:55

    It’s A Beautiful Day was one of the most creative bands to emerge from psychedelic era in San Francisco. David LaFlamme, along with his wife Linda and vocalist Pattie Santos, were a big part of that. At least he’s finally at rest from the torments of the group’s obstructionist manager Matthew Katz. If not for that, IABD would likely have garnished considerably more exposure and fame. Thanks for everything you contributed David. Your music lives on.

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    • Joe Coffee
      Joe Coffee 16 August, 2023, 17:47

      Them too, huh? He sure derailed Moby Grape’s career. What a vengeful prick. Still around, too.

      Reply this comment
  9. Artie Choke, (SLC, UT)
    #9 Artie Choke, (SLC, UT) 12 August, 2023, 18:53

    Anybody over 70 who could ever roll a joint with one hand loves this band. RIP D

    Reply this comment
  10. Molly
    #10 Molly 23 August, 2023, 19:24

    Saw this band numerous times in S.F. and still have the first album. Loved the band and the violin!

    Reply this comment
  11. Al
    #11 Al 13 October, 2023, 01:50

    David and his band played on the outdoor stage in Concord, California downtown Todos Plaza as part of the city’s Thursday night farmer’s market and music festival. I had by chance looked at Concord’s events calendar when I found that David was playing. I could not believe my luck at a chance to see him perform live! The band with David on his electric violin and his wife on vocals were mesmerizing that Thursday night not so long ago. R.I.P. David.

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