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Who Knew They Were From San Diego?

Herein I will discuss a random half dozen musical acts that either hail from San Diego or at least spent part of their lives here. This is in no way intended to be a complete list and the list is presented in no particular order.

Iron Butterfly

Yes, the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida band is from San Diego. I didn’t know this until recently. What I did know is that you can’t call yourself a stoner if you’ve never gotten baked and listened to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida with the lights off.

Although they formed down here in 1966, they were already in LA by the end of the year, where they made regular appearances at The Galaxy Club and The Whisky.


First there was Buster Cherry. Then there was Mickey Ratt. Finally there was Ratt. Who can forget the Round and Round video with Uncle Milty? I’ve known all along these were originally San Diego boys because a high school friend of mine’s older brother was one of the early drummers for Ratt.

Eddie Vedder

When you think of Eddie Vedder, you think of Seattle, right? Born near Chicago, Eddie actually lived in San Diego twice. He dropped out of high school here, moved back to Chicago, got his GED, and eventually moved back to San Diego with his girlfriend. This is where he launched his musical career.

Stone Temple Pilots

Performing as Mighty Joe Young, the band built a strong local following. But like so many other bands, they eventually took the I-5 north to LA and ended up at the Whisky. They got a record contract, but when they were in the studio, they were informed via an attorney that the name Mighty Joe Young was already trademarked by a bluesman. They had to change their name.

Remember STP, the racer’s edge? Yep, the motor oil treatment. For some reason, the band members took inspiration from the STP stickers they had seen as kids. They just needed actual words to go with the letters. Among the nixed candidates was Shirley Temple’s Pussy.

Frank Zappa

Zappa was born in Baltimore, but he and his family were living in and around San Diego by his teenage years. In fact, he joined his first band (as a drummer, not a guitar player) while attending Mission Bay High School.

Several years ago, I worked for a software company whose owner claimed to have hung out with Zappa in their youth. I have no reason to doubt the man, but it’s hard to imagine the two together. My boss was straight as an arrow, uptight as uptight can be, and had, in fact, never heard a Zappa song until I played one for him. I think I played Broker Hearts Are for Assholes.

J.J. Cale

J.J. Cale was a guitar player’s guitar player, a virtuoso who shied away from the spotlight. He became a San Diegan late in life and actually passed away here. I never realized his San Diego connection until I got to wondering why in the hell he and Clapton would make a record call The Road to Escondido.

Escondido is a city that anchors the north part of San Diego County. The only other time I’ve ever heard Escondido mentioned publicly was in episode 26, season 8 of The Beverly Hillbillies, an episode called Honesty Is the Best Policy, in which swindlers speaking fake Spanish tell the Clampetts, among other things, that escondido avocado is Spanish for money. Anyhow, it turns out Cale lived in Valley Center, near Escondido, and he had to travel by road to visit Clapton, who owned a mansion in Escondido. Duh.

Who’s your favorite San Diego band?


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