A haircut changed Rolle Love’s life.
At 17, he was a hard-rocking bassist with a crash pad in North Park. “We furnished it with cases of beer, and we drank our furniture.”
A major life change came after Love saw his first rockabilly concert. He traded metal for a new look. “The first thing I did was to go to Hillcrest and find a barber who would cut my hair rockabilly style.”
Debbie Scott worked some pompadour magic on Love, just as she’d done for others, including an East County guitarist named Bernard “Buddy Blue” Seigal. It was 1981. Scott arranged for the two to meet. Blue asked Love to join his Rockin’ Roulettes. Later, Love would follow Blue to a new band called the Beat Farmers.
“The rest is history.”
I always thought rockabilly was Buddy’s best gig.
“Yeah. He played the same lick over and over and over, that one solo in his arsenal. It was an Eddie Cochran special, but it was good.”
It got Jerry Raney’s attention.
“Buddy got picked up by Country Dick [Montana] and Jerry. They pulled him out of the Rockin’ Roulettes.”
And you followed soon after.
“The original bass player in the Beat Farmers, he didn’t dig it.”
But you were hard-core rockabilly.
“At the time I was playing only upright bass. I had seen the Paladins.”
How did your act fit with the band?
“Basically, I was in the band so they could rehearse till they got the right bass player. I was like a puppy with my tail wagging. They never did ask me to join the band. I just did everything I could to keep up with those guys.”
You were the youngest.
“I was 18. I couldn’t go into the bars we played in.”
Did success affect the Beat Farmers?
“We never really thought about it. It was just something that naturally progressed. We started out at the Spring Valley Inn. It got too crowded, so we had to bump up to Bodie’s. There’d be a line out the door there. Eventually, we had to bump up to the Bacchanal.”
This was a band with three heads: rockabilly, cowpunk, and Country Dick’s goofball songs.
“I played ‘Happy Boy’ every night for 13 years.”
You’ve never been one to mail in a performance.
“My only comment is that a lot of it’s attitude. I go to bed at night thinking about this stuff. I dream about it, and I wake up in the morning thinking about it.”
But you also never left the back of the stage.
“I was a good sideman. I made the other guys look good. I never missed a gig, even if I was sick. I would throw up onstage if I had to.”
“We had a gig with the Village People and that happened. I came backstage, and they were all greasing each other up, and by God if that didn’t make me sick to my stomach. That, and I had food poisoning.”
Are you a San Diegan?
“I’m from Bird Rock. I grew up with [Ratt guitarist] Warren DeMartini. He’s my best friend. When he was first going up to L.A., I would go with him. We were in high school, and we would always end up in Mötley Crüe’s or David Lee Roth’s apartment off Sunset.”
David Lee Roth?
“He was just like he is onstage. He and Country Dick had a lot in common.”
You were there when Dick went down.
“Yeah. I looked him right in the eyes while he died. It was tough. Later, I had to go to the first-aid station where they took him and identified him. But the worst thing? Driving home in the van and looking back and he wasn’t there.”
That was the day the Beat Farmers stopped. What did you do?
“What I did after Dick died is I went into a self-imposed retirement. I picked up a surfboard and I went back to my roots. I lived on P.B. Point for a good five years.”
And then in 2006, lightning struck for the second time.
“I was at my mother’s house in Fallbrook, and our road guy called me up and told me Buddy had died, and I didn’t believe it. It was April Fool’s Day. It was brutal. I just couldn’t believe it was happening all over again.”
Aside from playing bass in Billy Joe & the Roosters, what’s on the Love drawing board?
“I’d like to play six-string guitar in a little combo. I’d like to do a little surf music, something that combines my interests. Ultimately, I’d like to be happy.”
The pursuit of happiness…
“That was one of the best Beat Farmer albums.” ■