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A brief history of the San Diego music scene

El Cajon's Lester Bangs, Frank Zappa and classical music, Richard Meltzer's records, Alexander Theroux on grammar of rock lyrics, Paul Williams on Powerdresser, birth of Beat Farmers

San Diego Reader, September 24, 2009
San Diego Reader, September 24, 2009

The Hardback Lester Bangs

Somewhere between life and literature.

I think it’d really be groovy to give the readers an idea of what it was like growing up in El Cajon and reading Burroughs and Kerouac and Ginsberg and listening to Mingus and Coltrane and the Stones.

By Roger Anderson, Nov. 26, 1987 | Read full article


Frank Zappa. The Doors, the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead — unspeakable dreck. That’s why Zappa was such a tonic.

Dirty Zappa’s Dirty Little Secret

In the mid-1950s a high school kid from El Cajon named Frank Zappa read an article in Look magazine that said Sam Goody was so good at selling records, he could unload a copy of Edgar Varèse’s Ionisations. This piqued the curiosity of the restless, inventive young rocker.

By August Kleinzahler Sept. 23, 1999 | Read full article


From left to right: Richard Meltzer, Dave Marsh, Mitch Ryder, and Lisa Robinson, Bitter End, New York, c. 1971

Vinyl Reckoning

Memory at 33⅓ RPMs

In 1976 or ’7, to persuade Robert Christgau, my bag-o-wind editor at the Village Voice, to let me write about jazz (he considered me a “rock-identified critic”), I did a non-rock “think piece” in which I claimed, among other things, that increasing the aural input of jazz around the house will enliven (for example) your dreams and sex acts.

By Richard Meltzer Jan. 28, 1999 | Read full article


The Grammar of Rock and Roll

Parsing the demon-tongue of shake-your-groove-thang-ism.

No, it shouldn’t be “Love Me Tenderly” of “All Shaken Up.” The song “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” is exactly as it should be.

By Alexander Theroux July 20, 1995 | Read full article


Denver Lucas (foreground) and Gabe Voile. He tipped me that they were going to be opening at the Casbah for Drive Like Jehu, a local band whose album had recently gotten a rave review in Rolling Stone.

The Lost Powerdresser

Glimpses of a lost scene.

I grew up as a teenager in an extraordinary music scene, the folk music scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the early 1960s, which gave me the chance to see artists like Skip James, Howlin’ Wolf, Richard & Mimi Fariña, and many others in a small club

By Paul Williams July 24, 2003 | Read full article


“I was already 15 or 16 then, and that’s when I started playing guitar. This guy from El Cajon High named Jack Chan — you remember Jack — knew how to play, we’d go out and get the Beatles songbooks and go through ’em."

Birth of the Beat Farmers

Jerry Raney: “This guy from El Cajon High named Jack Chan knew how to play, we’d go out and get the Beatles songbooks and go through 'em and he’d teach me the chords.”

By Roger Anderson March 16, 1989 | Read full article

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San Diego Reader, September 24, 2009
San Diego Reader, September 24, 2009

The Hardback Lester Bangs

Somewhere between life and literature.

I think it’d really be groovy to give the readers an idea of what it was like growing up in El Cajon and reading Burroughs and Kerouac and Ginsberg and listening to Mingus and Coltrane and the Stones.

By Roger Anderson, Nov. 26, 1987 | Read full article


Frank Zappa. The Doors, the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead — unspeakable dreck. That’s why Zappa was such a tonic.

Dirty Zappa’s Dirty Little Secret

In the mid-1950s a high school kid from El Cajon named Frank Zappa read an article in Look magazine that said Sam Goody was so good at selling records, he could unload a copy of Edgar Varèse’s Ionisations. This piqued the curiosity of the restless, inventive young rocker.

By August Kleinzahler Sept. 23, 1999 | Read full article


From left to right: Richard Meltzer, Dave Marsh, Mitch Ryder, and Lisa Robinson, Bitter End, New York, c. 1971

Vinyl Reckoning

Memory at 33⅓ RPMs

In 1976 or ’7, to persuade Robert Christgau, my bag-o-wind editor at the Village Voice, to let me write about jazz (he considered me a “rock-identified critic”), I did a non-rock “think piece” in which I claimed, among other things, that increasing the aural input of jazz around the house will enliven (for example) your dreams and sex acts.

By Richard Meltzer Jan. 28, 1999 | Read full article


The Grammar of Rock and Roll

Parsing the demon-tongue of shake-your-groove-thang-ism.

No, it shouldn’t be “Love Me Tenderly” of “All Shaken Up.” The song “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” is exactly as it should be.

By Alexander Theroux July 20, 1995 | Read full article


Denver Lucas (foreground) and Gabe Voile. He tipped me that they were going to be opening at the Casbah for Drive Like Jehu, a local band whose album had recently gotten a rave review in Rolling Stone.

The Lost Powerdresser

Glimpses of a lost scene.

I grew up as a teenager in an extraordinary music scene, the folk music scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the early 1960s, which gave me the chance to see artists like Skip James, Howlin’ Wolf, Richard & Mimi Fariña, and many others in a small club

By Paul Williams July 24, 2003 | Read full article


“I was already 15 or 16 then, and that’s when I started playing guitar. This guy from El Cajon High named Jack Chan — you remember Jack — knew how to play, we’d go out and get the Beatles songbooks and go through ’em."

Birth of the Beat Farmers

Jerry Raney: “This guy from El Cajon High named Jack Chan knew how to play, we’d go out and get the Beatles songbooks and go through 'em and he’d teach me the chords.”

By Roger Anderson March 16, 1989 | Read full article

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