'Made with Love' at Poet and/the Bench

The late Herbie Herbert. Photo courtesy of Pat Johnston.

Bay Area music legends and their legions of fans are mourning the loss this week of music industry pioneer Herbie Herbert, the former manager of Santana and co-creator of Journey, who passed away Monday at the age of 73 at his home in Orinda, according to Maria Hoppe, the executive director of the Sweetwater Music Hall and Herbert’s longtime assistant and family spokesperson.

Hoppe says Herbert, who managed Journey for more than 20 years and reportedly recruited one-time frontman Steve Perry into the band in 1977, had been suffering from a prolonged illness. Soon after the news spread, reactions from some of the people who benefited by Herbert’s creativity and dedication issued statements mourning Herbert’s passing.

That included Journey guitarist and co-founder Neal Schon, via Facebook: “I’m very saddened by this news tonight of the recent loss of Walter (Herbie) Herbert, whom I’ve known since I joined Santana mid-1970 where I witnessed Herbie, a one man do it all show with Carlos (Santana), Gregg (Rolie) and the rest of the band. We traveled the world together first with Santana then Journey. Shortly after we had completed the Caravanserai album. The band disbanded. Herbie had decided to start a management company and approached me about managing myself and wrapping a band around my guitar playing and our long amazing Journey started when I said, ‘great let’s go.'”

“Herbie was an incredible, hands-on manager and fought like a mother****** for all of us every step of the way,” Schon continued. “I can easily say that without his vision there would have never been many of the innovative things that we shared. I hold the greatest times in my heart forever. My deepest condolences to all that knew him and loved him.”

“Herbie was a former road dog for Santana back in the day; he built Journey from the ground up up and without his guidance and heavy hand, that legend alone would not have existed,” added singer and Schon collaborator Jeff Scott Soto.

Walter James Herbert II was born Feb. 5, 1948, in Berkeley, and first came into the music business alongside legendary music promoter Bill Graham, who had been the first manager of the Santana Blues Band. The story Herbert liked to tell, according to Hoppe, is that he was still hauling equipment when when Carlos Santana and singer/keyboardist Gregg Rolie asked Herbert to take over management of the band. He agreed and the first job they gave him was to fire Graham. Herbert managed the Steve Miller Band and Mr. Big.

Herbert had always played guitar himself, and in the 1990s re-created himself as a blues guitarist and singer named Sy Klopps, fronting a roving band of well-known sidemen. Sy Klopps was the one band he refused to manage himself. Sy Klopps released four or five albums, and played the Fillmore 14 times, according to Hoppe.

A documentary, dubbed Who the F#@K is Herbie Herbert?, is in the works about Herbert’s life that began production before he died, with Hoppe serving as one of the writers on the project.

A memorial is pending. Accoding to Hoppe, survivors include his wife of 20 years, Maya Herbert of Orinda; daughters Katherine Grace Ratcliff of Salem, Ore., and Seaya McCosker White of Scottsdale, Ariz; his brother, Robert Herbert of La Pine, Ore.; and sister Katie Herbert of Orinda.


Want to know what’s happening around town? Click here to subscribe to the Enjoy Mill Valley Blog by Email!