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The secret origin of Steve Poltz’s One Left Shoe

Occasional Rugburn talks Jewel and biker chicks

Steve Poltz may have lost his shoe, but he’s hanging onto his hat. - Image by Michael Weintrob
Steve Poltz may have lost his shoe, but he’s hanging onto his hat.

A man who’ll throw an annual 50th Birthday Bash for himself clearly boasts a robust sense of humor. And San Diego fixture Steve Poltz, who’s observing that cracked anniversary (he’s actually turning 62) at the Belly Up February 18 and 19, has been in on the universe’s joke for a long time now.

Past Event

Steve Poltz's 13th Annual 50th Birthday Bash

  • Friday, February 18, 2022, 8 p.m.
  • Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
  • 21+

His old friend and lover Jewel “had a hit song we wrote together called ‘You Were Meant For Me.’ I was in the video and that song was everywhere. I remember one time, I pulled up to a red light in Pacific Beach, and there were four girls in bikinis in a Jeep and they were all singing ‘You Were Meant For Me’ at the top of their lungs. It was blaring on their radio. So they looked over at me, and I said, ‘I wrote that song with Jewel!’ They started laughing at me, and one of ‘em said, ‘Yeah right,’ and flipped me off, and they drove away.”

Poltz’s San Diego trip started in 1979. “I lived in La Mesa, and I had a job at Round Table Pizza. The great baseball pitcher Rollie Fingers used to come in and pick up a pizza to go. I was 19 years old and that was pretty thrilling. But I ended up getting fired from Round Table Pizza because I got drunk at work and sang ‘The Rodeo Song’ over the microphone that we used to let people know when their pizzas were ready.”

Well, it’s forty below and I don’t give a fuck

Got a heater in my truck and I’m off to the rodeo

And it’s an allemande left and allemande right

C’mon you fuckin’ dummy, get your right step right.

“I remember getting a call, it was early in the morning the day after my singing debut. The owner was Mr. McDonald, and he said, ‘Is this Steve Poltz? This is Mr. McDonald. I own Round Table Pizza where you worked last night. You need to come in and pick up your paycheck.” Poltz assumed they were being paid early. Then he heard: “‘No, you’re fired! We need pizza makers. Not entertainers.’ Just then, my heart swelled with pride, and I said, ‘I’m an entertainer?’”

Eventually, his band The Rugburns got semi-famous, owing in part to gigs with Jewel. But he’s also had his brushes with becoming in-famous. “I remember one night in El Cajon back in ’79, there was a waitress at El Amigo and her name was Brenda. She was 43 and I was 19, and she invited me back to her place to smoke a joint and have a glass of wine. Her boyfriend was a scary biker with lots of tattoos. I asked her where he was, and she said he was in Sturgis, South Dakota at a biker rally. There were pictures of him at shooting ranges all dressed in biker gear all over their apartment, and I felt scared just looking at his photos. One thing led to another, and me and Brenda ended up in her king-size waterbed. Next thing you know, I heard a motorcycle pull up in the driveway. She started yelling, ‘That’s my old man, you need to leave out the window!’ I said, ‘But I thought he was in Sturgis!’ She answered, ‘Well I guess he got back early, because he doesn’t trust me. Leave now. He has lots of guns!’”

Out the window he went, “naked and holding my clothes, and I escaped under the cover of darkness. I never went back to play a gig at El Amigo again. I thought I’d be killed. I forgot to grab my left shoe and, to this day, I still don’t know if he found it somewhere in the hallway. If Brenda is still alive, she’d be eighty-six now, and her ‘old man’ is probably ninety. I’m still kinda scared every time I see an old man on a motorcycle holding a left shoe in his hand. That’s why I named my major label debut on Mercury Records One Left Shoe.”

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Steve Poltz may have lost his shoe, but he’s hanging onto his hat. - Image by Michael Weintrob
Steve Poltz may have lost his shoe, but he’s hanging onto his hat.

A man who’ll throw an annual 50th Birthday Bash for himself clearly boasts a robust sense of humor. And San Diego fixture Steve Poltz, who’s observing that cracked anniversary (he’s actually turning 62) at the Belly Up February 18 and 19, has been in on the universe’s joke for a long time now.

Past Event

Steve Poltz's 13th Annual 50th Birthday Bash

  • Friday, February 18, 2022, 8 p.m.
  • Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
  • 21+

His old friend and lover Jewel “had a hit song we wrote together called ‘You Were Meant For Me.’ I was in the video and that song was everywhere. I remember one time, I pulled up to a red light in Pacific Beach, and there were four girls in bikinis in a Jeep and they were all singing ‘You Were Meant For Me’ at the top of their lungs. It was blaring on their radio. So they looked over at me, and I said, ‘I wrote that song with Jewel!’ They started laughing at me, and one of ‘em said, ‘Yeah right,’ and flipped me off, and they drove away.”

Poltz’s San Diego trip started in 1979. “I lived in La Mesa, and I had a job at Round Table Pizza. The great baseball pitcher Rollie Fingers used to come in and pick up a pizza to go. I was 19 years old and that was pretty thrilling. But I ended up getting fired from Round Table Pizza because I got drunk at work and sang ‘The Rodeo Song’ over the microphone that we used to let people know when their pizzas were ready.”

Well, it’s forty below and I don’t give a fuck

Got a heater in my truck and I’m off to the rodeo

And it’s an allemande left and allemande right

C’mon you fuckin’ dummy, get your right step right.

“I remember getting a call, it was early in the morning the day after my singing debut. The owner was Mr. McDonald, and he said, ‘Is this Steve Poltz? This is Mr. McDonald. I own Round Table Pizza where you worked last night. You need to come in and pick up your paycheck.” Poltz assumed they were being paid early. Then he heard: “‘No, you’re fired! We need pizza makers. Not entertainers.’ Just then, my heart swelled with pride, and I said, ‘I’m an entertainer?’”

Eventually, his band The Rugburns got semi-famous, owing in part to gigs with Jewel. But he’s also had his brushes with becoming in-famous. “I remember one night in El Cajon back in ’79, there was a waitress at El Amigo and her name was Brenda. She was 43 and I was 19, and she invited me back to her place to smoke a joint and have a glass of wine. Her boyfriend was a scary biker with lots of tattoos. I asked her where he was, and she said he was in Sturgis, South Dakota at a biker rally. There were pictures of him at shooting ranges all dressed in biker gear all over their apartment, and I felt scared just looking at his photos. One thing led to another, and me and Brenda ended up in her king-size waterbed. Next thing you know, I heard a motorcycle pull up in the driveway. She started yelling, ‘That’s my old man, you need to leave out the window!’ I said, ‘But I thought he was in Sturgis!’ She answered, ‘Well I guess he got back early, because he doesn’t trust me. Leave now. He has lots of guns!’”

Out the window he went, “naked and holding my clothes, and I escaped under the cover of darkness. I never went back to play a gig at El Amigo again. I thought I’d be killed. I forgot to grab my left shoe and, to this day, I still don’t know if he found it somewhere in the hallway. If Brenda is still alive, she’d be eighty-six now, and her ‘old man’ is probably ninety. I’m still kinda scared every time I see an old man on a motorcycle holding a left shoe in his hand. That’s why I named my major label debut on Mercury Records One Left Shoe.”

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