When 16 year-old guitarist Ted Friedman founded the Gravedigger V in his parents’ garage in the early 80s, little did he know they’d become one of San Diego’s most influential bands. “We didn’t feel too legendary at the time,” he says, recalling one ignoble gig. “We played in the basement of Greenwich Village West, on Fifth in the Gaslamp. The rescue mission was right across the street at the time. The basement was brick with dirt floors. Sounded great down there but the dirt got all over everything. Everyone had brown snot coming out their noses by the time they came up for air.”
Friedman’s subsequent band the Morlocks (with Gravedigger singer Leighton Koizumi, who once faked his own death) is nearly as retro-revered, though he says “All the respect didn’t kick in until after we split. When we got interviewed by BAM magazine, our pics were taken with the guys from Jefferson Airplane and we played to thousands of people that day, but I still had to take the bus home! When we played a festival at the polo grounds in Golden Gate Park, our drummer Mark [Mullen] would kick his drums over at the end of every set. The sound guys freaked out and grabbed him by his hair and pulled him offstage. Bizarre, having your drummer bounced from his own band’s show.
“Once at the Swedish American Hall, there were a bunch of skins that tried to start some shit. We had a bunch of older biker dudes that had taken over being security. These old guys kicked the snot out of the skins. Some of them wore chains as belts, so they just whipped them off and were totally trashing the skinheads.”