I settled into the Pontiac Firebird convertible for a tour of the city's music sites. My driver and guide: longtime San Francisco rock critic Joel Selvin, who wrote the 1996 book "San Francisco: The Musical History Tour." Here are some of the highlights.
1232 Grant Av.
Established in 1851, it's the oldest watering hole in the city. This small, cramped North Beach dive bar serves Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap and top-notch blues onstage. "It's the sort of place where blues musicians go to live and die," Selvin said. "Johnny Nitro lived upstairs until he had his fatal heart attack. His body bag came down during the show on Saturday night. Wow, what an exit."
The Saloon is in the heart of the old beatnik neighborhood, down the block from City Lights, 261 Columbus Av., the famous bookstore founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and the Vesuvio Cafe, 255 Columbus Av., where Jack Kerouac drank and Francis Ford Coppola wrote much of the script for "The Godfather."
Chet Helms house
1090 Page St.
In the rosewood-paneled basement ballroom, impresario Helms started throwing Wednesday night jams, charging 50-cent admission. These jams led to the formation of Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother and the Holding Company.
The Grateful Dead house
It was "the community center of Haight Ashbury," Selvin said. The Dead lived here, with Jerry Garcia and his gal pal Mountain Girl sleeping on the top floor. The office of the free Haight Ashbury Legal Organization (HALO) was in the front room.
Janis Joplin house
112 Lyon St.
Joplin lived on the second floor in this Haight Ashbury row house, Selvin said, and "conducted her affair with Country Joe." She was often seen walking her dog named George throughout the neighborhood.
Graham Nash mansion
737 Buena Vista West
Jack London wrote "White Fang" in this Victorian mansion, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Steve Miller recorded their first albums in a small studio in the house, and Graham Nash lived there in the 1970s. The current resident is actor Danny Glover.
Jefferson Airplane house
2400 Fulton St.
Built by a shipping baron, this 20-room mansion across from Golden Gate Park was bought by the Airplane for $65,000 in 1968. The band rehearsed, lived and partied there. In the 1980s, for Bay Area Music Day, then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein showed up at the house — then "painted eyesore black," according to Selvin — for a photo opportunity with Huey Lewis, Journey and others. "Dianne walks in," Selvin recalled, "and says, 'I always wondered who lived here.' Then she walked into this room where all these people were assembled and goes: 'Ah, my drug-abuse task force.' She was underrated for her sense of humor."
1111 Columbus Av.
When the "Escape" album exploded in 1981, Journey bought this one-of-a-kind place built by the redwood industry trade association on a small triangular block. Every room had a different kind of redwood paneling, and the conference room had a giant redwood table. When Journey stopped believin', the band sold the building to the Indonesian consulate. Selvin noted that Steve Perry, Journey's former lead singer, still pockets a percentage of everything the current band earns.
Bimbo's 365 Club
1025 Columbus Av.
Originally opened in 1931, it's been at this location since 1950, run by the owner's grandson. "Inside it's 1950 — parquet dance floor, velvet curtains," Selvin said. Louis Prima and Rodney Dangerfield played here back in the day; recent performers have included Adele and Chris Isaak.
400 N. Point St.
This psychedelic landmark was the site of the three-day Trips Festival in January 1966 with the Dead, Big Brother, a pioneering elaborate light show and punch spiked with LSD. The organizers included Ken Kesey, Owsley Stanley and Stewart Brand (who went on to put together the "Whole Earth Catalog").
Hyde Street Studios
245 Hyde St.
After the studio opened in 1969 as the Wally Heider Studios, its first project was "Crosby, Stills & Nash." Other classic albums recorded there include Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Green River," Neil Young's "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," Jefferson Airplane's "Volunteers," the Dead's "American Beauty" and Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey." The studio is still operating.