During the 50s, Nashville was the centre for Country and Western Music but some young musicians in Bakersfield California, took exception to the over produced pop sounding country music coming from Nashville (Jim Reeves etc. ) and started to play more gutsy country music with straight forward lyrics, sharp staccato guitar riffs and pedal steel guitar solos. Influenced by Bob Wills, their music was a melting pot which drew from all forms of traditional American music including country, jazz, blues, and folk.
The pioneers of this new country music were dubbed “Outlaw”, and included Merle Haggard and Buck Owens.
About the same time, Californian surfer, Dick Dale was experimenting with reverberation using custom made Fender amplifiers. He wanted to electronically reproduce the sound he heard in his ears when surfing. Californian surf music was initially instrumental with surf groups like The Chantays (Pipeline), and The Surfaris (Wipe Out), but when the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean introduced close harmonies the style of music became instantly identified as Surf Sound.
Californian Surf Sound had fleeting success because the British Invasion overtook the American charts in 1964. This did not stop LA from becoming the rock and roll recording centre of the US in the sixties and seventies with all the big record companies on Santa Monica Blvd and Sunset Strip. Californian musicians reflected the new trends and a Beatlesque approach mixing both folk and rock. The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield came to the fore playing lighter music whereas heavier rock was championed by The Doors, and Love.
By the end of the decade, Frank Zappa (Mothers of Invention) and Captain Beefheart were at the forefront of experimental rock.
As musicians moved and bands metamorphosed, The Eagles, Poco and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young emerged and singer song-writers like Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell flourished in LA.
Meantime in the neighbouring city of San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury had become the Mecca for hippies. The Mamas and Papas and Scott McKenzie had set the scene but when the Lovin Spoonful with their version of jug music came to play they influenced a new movement of psychedelic music.
Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead (formerly The Warlocks) used complex harmonies and improvised jazz style.
Sly and the Family Stone, almost single handed, introduced Funk music and Carlos Santana started to blend rock, jazz, funk and Latin music to give a new Afro-latin rock.
The Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Doobie Brothers meantime came up with new revivals of rock and blues.
By the 80s metal music had gripped Sunset Strip and bands like Quiet Riot and Mötley Crüe were at their peak.
The end of Californian rock followed in the 90s when once again, the popularity of British pop and Grunge music took hold.
Worth a listen:
Sing a sad song (1963)
Buck Owens and the Buckeroos
Act Naturally (1963)
Lets go trippin (1961)
Wipe Out (1962)
Surfin USA (1963)
Tambourine Man (1965)
Riders in the storm (1971)
Yellow Taxi (1970)
Mamas and Papas
Californian Dreamin (1968)
Sly and the Family Stone
Dance to the music (1968)
Black Magic Women (1970)
The weight (1968)
Take it easy (1972)
Pickin' Up the Pieces (1969)
Crosby, Stills, Nash
Marrakesh Express (1969)
Doctor my eyes (1972)
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
Peaches en regalia (1969)
Captain Beefheart and his magic band
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Proud Mary (1969)
Listen to the music (1972)
Its not so funny (1977)
Dr Feel good (1989)