Walter James “Herbie” Herbert II, a graduate of Campolindo High School and longtime resident of Lafayette and Orinda, died at his Orinda home Tuesday after a career in music that left Bay Area music fans permanently imprinted with the “San Francisco-style” of music he loved and promoted.
He was 73.
After high school, Herbert dusted Moraga off his boots and got involved in the Bay Area rock music business, hustling band gear for Santana and working for San Francisco concert promoter Bill Graham, who was managing Santana at the time. The story Herbert was fond of telling was that he was still hauling equipment when Carlos Santana and singer/keyboardist Gregg Rolie asked him to take over management of the band. He agreed and the first job they gave him was to fire Graham.
Displaying a talent for business as well as music, Herbert went on to assume managerial duties for the Steve Miller Band and Mr. Big, joining with Neal Schon to form the nucleus of what would become Journey. Engaging his playful side he re-birthed himself as a psychedelic blues guitarist and singer named Sy Klopps. The one band he refused to manage, Sy Klopps and some of the biggest names in the Bay Area music scene cut several albums and made regular and well-received appearances at The Fillmore.
Bay Area music fans, musicians and rock industry friends took to social media to eulogize him as word of his passing began to spread, Schon and others crediting Herbert with much of Journey’s success.
Family spokesperson Maria Hoppe said Herbert had been suffering from a prolonged illness. Plans for a memorial and a documentary on his life are underway.
Herbert leaves his wife of 20 years, Maya Herbert of Orinda; her 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.