Meet the Ace of Cups:
The Haight's (Almost) Forgotten All-Girl Band
By Kelly Whalen

KQED: The Haight-Ashbury of 1967 was a place of endless possibility: new ways of living, an influx of ideas, and political and cultural revolution were in the air. And yet amidst this “anything goes” scene, one band still stuck out as an anomaly. The Ace of Cups didn’t set out to be an all-girl band. The group’s original five members — Mary Gannon, Marla Hunt, Denise Kaufman, Mary Ellen Simpson and Diane Vitalich — came together guided by the communal spirit that blanketed Summer of Love-era San Francisco. Up to that point, most all-female bands had worn matching outfits and played cover songs. But with original songs that reflected their circumstances, the Ace of Cups played with groups like The Band, Jefferson Airplane, and even Jimi Hendrix, an avowed fan. Despite their impact in San Francisco, in the intervening years the Ace of Cups were relegated to footnote status, all but written out of history books. But now, having kept in touch, four of the five original band members are about to enter a new chapter. Watch above to follow their journey. 

Text by Kevin L. Jones | Director, Editor: Kelly Whalen | Cinematography and Sound: Peter Ruocco, Kelly Whalen, Jessica Jones


“I heard some groovy sounds last time in the States, like this girl group, Ace Of Cups, who write their own songs and the lead guitarist is hell, really great.”
— Jimi Hendrix, Melody Maker Magazine, 1967


Jam Band News: 50 Years of Brilliant Songwriting

Ace Of Cups blends pure rock, folk, blues and gospel influences with a pop sensibility and a garage band rush; all tinted by an intoxicating psychedelic sheen.

Riff Magazine: Ace of Cups, One of Music’s Best-kept Secrets

Ahead of their time, the Ace of Cups opened for the likes of Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane, proving they could really rock. Fifty years later, the group has reunited.

KZSC Radio

Kaufman talks with KZSC about the Ace of Cups' past, present, and future.

Listen to the Haight-Ashbury Walking Audio Tour

Together to record their album, the Ace of Cups also stopped at the Acoustic Guitar Room at The Music Center in the Haight Ashbury, San Francisco to record the Detour Walking Tour, a downloadable audio guide of this historical landmark area.

Diamonds in the Dust: Pioneers of All-Girl Rock Bands

ARIZONA STATE PRESS - A study of the criminally neglected; songs, albums and entire genres swept under the rug by a lack of media attention, misunderstandings or simply being too ahead of its time. 

Shindig Magazine

RARE FIND! A copy of a long time out-of-print/sold out UK magazine (2005) SHINDIG #7, featuring The Ace Of Cups and more. Thanks, Gray Newell! 

Waller Street Blues: An Interview with Denise Kaufman of The Ace Of Cups

This Hoodline article first appeared in print in August Nation, a San Francisco magazine by August Bernadicou that features local artists. Denise recounts what life was like in the city in the 1960s.

LAMA Workshop

A crucial story remains to be told, and it's one of the most intriguing of all—that of the all-female rock band ACE OF CUPS, who were there from the beginning in 1966 and continued right on through to the end in the early 1970s. 

Jimi Hendrix on the Cups

"I heard some groovy sounds last time in the States," Jimi Hendrix told Melody Maker magazine in December 1967, "Like this girl group, Ace of Cups, who write their own songs and the lead guitarist is, hell, really great."