"I can still rock," says Danny Weis, cofounder of Iron Butterfly. The guitarist, who lives in Canada, spent the majority of his youth in El Cajon.
"I fondly remember the years I would go see my dad, Johnny Weis, play guitar, backing people from the Grand Ole Opry at Bostonia Ballroom in El Cajon," says Weis. "I was age 9 to 12, and I used to stand right in front of the stage and lean on it with my elbows. I wasn't too tall then, I guess. I remember Johnny Cash playing right in front of me with my dad backing him on guitar with the band. [Cash] always remembered me and would stoop right in front of me, saying, 'Folsom Prison?' I said yes with joy."
Weis picked up a guitar at around age 12 and by 13 was playing with local bands.
"I was always the youngest musician, as the others were all 18 to 21. I had trouble with club managers, as I looked so very young. They wanted me to dye my hair black and put on a fake mustache to look older. I didn't."
With Doug Ingle, Weis formed Iron Butterfly in 1966.
"We sought a band name that was heavy, so to speak, and also beautiful. Not long after, we all got into Darryl DeLoach's -- God rest his soul -- black hearse and moved to Hollywood, California."
Weis quit Iron Butterfly soon after recording Heavy in Hollywood. He went on to play with the Rascals, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, and the Everly Brothers.
"My early musical experiences in San Diego County would shape my entire career.... There was a lot of jazz, country, and R&B."
Weis's new solo album, Sweet Spot, will be available in June.