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Music of California

In the United States, California is commonly associated with the film, music, and arts industries; there are numerous world-famous Californian musicians. Hardcore punk, hip hop, country and heavy metal have all appeared in California. Furthermore, new genres of music, such as surf rock and third wave ska, have their origins in California.

Official symbols

The official state song of California is "I Love You, California", written by F. B. Silverwood and composed by Alfred F. Frankenstein of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. It was designated the state song in 1951. Other songs, including "California, Here I Come", have also been candidates for additional state songs since 1951, but in 1988 the official standing of "I Love You, California" was confirmed.

California also has an official fife and drum band, the California Consolidated Drum Band, which was so designated in 1997.

The state's official folk dance is the square dance, which has been found in California since at least the Gold Rush.

Native American music

Main article: Native American music
Native Americans of many different kinds lived in California prior to the discovery of the New World by Europe. Most of the tribes were culturally related to each other, as well as to the Yuman-speaking peoples of Arizona and New Mexico. They use a relaxed vocal technique, in stark contrast to Native Americans from much of the rest of North America. The songs of this area are non-strophic, and are characterized by the use of a rise, a section of a song which is slightly higher in pitch than the rest of the song. This technique is absent or rare outside of the California-Yuman area, known only among some tribes on both coasts of North America.

In the late 19th century, Native American music began to be incorporated by classical composers throughout the country. In San Francisco, Carlos Troyer published compositions like Apache Chief Geronimo's Own Medicine song with a piano accompaniment by Troyer. He also later published two Zuni songs.

Early foreign influences

The earliest Spanish and English explorers in California encountered Native Americans and established missions to convert them to Christianity. Chanted prayers and hymns were often used, and choirs were eventually formed; many missions formed Native American choirs among recent converts.

As California's European, Asian and African population increased in the 19th century, the state became the earliest West Coast territory admitted to the United States. As on the East Coast, music at the time was dominated by popular minstrel shows and the sale of sheet music. Performers included the Sacramento-born Hyers Sisters and Black Patti.

Chinese immigrants came to California to work on the transcontinental railroad and soon became a large minority in the state; the San Francisco Chinese Opera House was built in 1880. However, two years later the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in order to prevent more immigration. The visit of King Kalakaua of Hawaii in 1874 saw the Hawaiian national anthem, "Hawaii Ponoi" (written by the king) set to music by Henri Berger. In the 1880s, Carlos Troyer became a prominent composer, incorporating Spanish and Zuni influences. Polish composer Anton de Kontski's Polish Patrol and Awakening the Lion were also quite popular.

Spanish and Mexican influence

Manuela García was the most prolific performer recorded by Charles Fletcher Lummis

The state's large Mexican population brought traditional folk guitar to California, including virtuoso Luis T. Romero. The Spanish missions in California brought European music to the area. From the late 18th century to the late 19th century, many visitors to California remarked on the uniqueness of the Spanish language music in California. This music was distinctively Californian, different from both Mexican and Spanish music of the time (though many elements are found throughout these traditions).

With the arrival of many Americans from the East Coast, as well as immigrants from as far away as China, however, Spanish folk music began to dwindle in popularity in California. Charles Fletcher Lummis, himself an immigrant to California, recorded many kinds of Spanish and Native American folk music for the Southwest Society of the Archaeological Institute of America. Later in the 20th century, other revivalists like Gabriel Eulogius Ruiz and Al Pill helped keep Spanish-California traditions alive.

Mexican and Latin American music in California today

Because of its historical and cultural connections to Mexico and strong Hispanic influences, California hosts numerous Spanish language radio stations, variety music shows and local based Mariachi and Mexican folk music bands. Popular music such as Ranchera, Norteño, son music can be heard on many radio stations across the state from the San Francisco Bay Area to Central Valley. Among the most celebrated Mexican American singers from California are Jenni Rivera, Carlos Santana, Chris Montez and Ritchie Valens. Southern California has been home to Spanish language singers and musicians for over 100 years. La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley has worked promote Salsa and traditional Latin American music to encourage a strong cultural connection between Californians and Latin Americans.

Reggaeton is becoming popular in California due to the success of rappers Daddy Yankee, Pitbull and Ruben Blades who have broken across language barriers into mainstream music. Reggaeton dance clubs can be found in Long Beach, Los Angeles and Chula Vista. Fusing reggaeton with hip hop music has ensured the genre's popularity among both young and old aficionados of Latin music. Salsa music has had success as popular dance music since the early 1980s. Its popularity continues due to popular music shows So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. Local Salsa and Caribbean music groups regularly perform in San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles Area.


Sidney Robertson Cowell, an ethnographer from San Fransisco, collected a trove of American folk songs for the WPA Northern California Folk Music Project (1938–1940), which she initiated.[1]


West Coast Blues

Main article: West Coast blues

Western swing

Main article: Western swing

1950s and 60s

Bakersfield sound

Main article: Bakersfield sound

In the 1950s and early 1960s, country music was dominated by the slick Nashville sound that stripped the genre of its gritty roots. The town of Bakersfield saw the rise of the Bakersfield sound as a reaction against Nashville, led by people like Buck Owens and future star Merle Haggard.


California was an important part of the American folk music revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s, led by the San Francisco Bay Area group The Kingston Trio. Their first hit, the 1958 single Tom Dooley (a Billboard #1 Hot 100 hit), sold more than 3 million copies[2] and inspired the addition of a "folk" category to the Grammy awards the following year. The Trio's success inspired many pop-folk groups (recognizable by the performance of traditional or traditional-sounding music and use of acoustic rather than electric guitars), including California-based The Limeliters. California venues like the Hungry i promoted the genre and several major albums were recorded there. Folk music faded in popularity after the mid-1960s British Invasion, but merged with the British sound to create Folk rock, pioneered by the Los Angeles band The Byrds.[3][4]

Surf rock, sunshine pop, and the California Sound

In the early 1960s, youth in southern California became enamored with surf rock groups, many instrumental, like The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, The Chantays, Royale Monarchs, The Honeys and The Surfaris. Surf rock is said to have been invented by Dick Dale with his 1961 (see 1961 in music) album "Let's Go Trippin'". Surf rock's popularity ended in the mid-1960s with the coming of psychedelic music, however bands like Papa Doo Run Run have continued to perform and tour for the last 40 years.


The Walker Brothers, formed in Los Angeles in 1964, achieved success in the United Kingdom during the British Invasion.

Psychedelic rock

Main article: Psychedelic music

The late 1960s saw San Francisco and Hollywood rise as the center for psychedelic rock and a mecca for hippies. Haight-Ashbury became a countercultural capital, and bands like Jefferson Airplane, Loading Zone, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe and the Fish, Santana, The Charlatans, Big Brother & the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead helped to launch the blues- and folk-rock scene; other bands, like Moby Grape and The Flamin' Groovies used a more country-influenced sound, while Cold Blood incorporated R&B and Orkustra played a sort of freeform psychedelia. Of all these bands, the Grateful Dead were undoubtedly the longest-lasting of all. They continued recording and performing for several decades under the leadership of Jerry Garcia, experimenting with a wide variety of folk, country and bluegrass, and becoming a part of the jam band phenomenon.

Hollywood's Sunset Strip area produced bands like The Byrds, The Doors, Love, Buffalo Springfield, and The Seeds. The Byrds went on to become a major folk-rock act, helping to popularize some of Bob Dylan's compositions and eventually launching the careers of folk-rockers like David Crosby and country-rock fusionist Gram Parsons.

Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, both from Antelope Valley, started their aggressively experimental music careers during the late 1960s.

The band Iron Butterfly is another noted California psychedelic band, coming out of San Diego.

San Francisco psychedelic scene

Main article: San Francisco Sound

This era began in about 1965, when The Matrix, the first folk club in San Francisco, opened; Jefferson Airplane, then a newly formed and unknown band, performed that night. Later that year, a band known as The Warlocks became the Grateful Dead, performing at The Fillmore, which was to become a major musical venue in the area. Jefferson Airplane became the first San Francisco psychedelic band signed to a major label, followed soon after by Sopwith Camel. In 1966, the first acid test was held, and the use of the drug LSD became a more prominent part of psychedelic rock, and music in general. One of the first albums from the scene was Country Joe and the Fish's Electric Music for the Mind and Body (1967). A year later, the band Blue Cheer released Vincebus Eruptum, which launched a national hit with a cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues"; Blue Cheer is now regarded as a progenitor of heavy metal.

1970s and 80s

The early part of this era was dominated by country rock acts such as The Eagles and Poco, and singer-songwriters such as Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell. There were also funk acts that were prominent such as War from the South Central (now South) district of Los Angeles, Sly and the Family Stone and Tower of Power from Oakland. Santana blended rock, jazz, funk and Latin music. This period also saw a number of difficult to classify acts arising who did not sell many records, but proved to be very influential on things to come, such as Kim Fowley and Captain Beefheart, both of whom had been active in the 1960s but reached their artistic peaks during this era, and Sparks, all from Los Angeles. Fowley would go on to manage and produce the all-female punk-metal group, The Runaways. As the decade progressed more adventurous boundary-stretching singer-songwriters such as Rickie Lee Jones and Warren Zevon (both originally from Chicago but whose careers developed in California) would emerge to great critical acclaim.

The Tubes, who mixed progressive rock with wild theatricality, and Journey, formed from among some of Carlos Santana's sidemen and eventually experiencing a peak as one of the most popular AOR acts in the United States, were virtually the only acts from San Francisco to gain any sort of fame in the mid-1970s. During the 1980s, Journey found further success, as did Huey Lewis and the News who combined elements of pub rock with doo-wop and soul, and Starship which formed from its earlier incarnation of Jefferson Starship.

Californians Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac in the 1970s and were a key part of the band's multi-platinum success.

Glam metal

Main article: Glam metal

Glam metal arose along the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in the 1980s with bands like Quiet Riot, Mötley Crüe, and later Pennsylvania immigrates Poison and quickly became known for anthemic hard rock and power ballads, as well as band members' distinctively feminine make-up, hair, and clothing in spite of the scene's macho posturing. This scene would die out in the 1990s due to grunge.

Punk rock in California

Los Angeles

Los Angeles' original late 1970s punk scene received less press attention than their counterparts in New York or London, but it included cult bands The Screamers, The Germs, The Weirdos, The Dils, The Bags, 45 Grave (founded by Paul B. Cutler) and X.

Youth Brigade of Los Angeles were a group from LA who eventually became known for founding the Better Youth Organization (BYO), which advanced the hardcore scene and humanist ideals. Other Los Angeles-area hardcore and punk groups included Wasted Youth, The Avengers (band) led by Penelope Houston, UXA, The Hollywood Squares, The Mau-Mau's, The Gears, Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, Vom, Dr. Know (featuring former child star Brandon Cruz), Legal Weapon and The Mentors (originally from Seattle), along with future underground stars NOFX.

South Bay

In the Los Angeles South Bay, American hardcore punk was born with bands like Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, the Minutemen, ANTI, Bad Religion and Youth Brigade, who formed in the mid- to late 1970s/early 1980s. SST Records was started by Greg Ginn of Black Flag. San Pedro, Hermosa Beach, Wilmington, Manhattan Beach and Hawthorne spawned more locally famous acts like Red Cross, who would later incorporate garage rock, power pop and glam influences into their sound and change their name to Redd Kross, The Last, Circle Jerks, Nip Drivers, Saint Vitus, The Descendents, and Saccharine Trust. The famous movie about the hardcore scene, The Decline of Western Civilization, was shot in this area, largely in an abandoned church in Hermosa called the Creative Craft Center. The movement fell out of popularity around the Mid 80s. The late 80s/early 90s saw a revival in the South Bay punk scene with punk bands like Bad Religion, Down by Law, NOFX, The Offspring, Pennywise and Ten Foot Pole under the Epitaph Records label.

Orange County

In Orange County, the band Middle Class, from Santa Ana, was probably the most influential; their "Out of Vogue" is sometimes considered the first hardcore recording. The original hardcore bands in Orange County came from the Fullerton, Ca area, where The Adolescents, Agent Orange and Social Distortion and D.I. formed. Social Distortion would later incorporate blues, country and early rock influences into their sound and become one of America's premier roots rock bands. Farther south, Huntington Beach was also an influential center of hardcore, and is known as the origin of slam dancing. Huntington bands like Vicious Circle, T.S.O.L., The Screws, and The Crowd had a reputation for being aggressive and sometimes violent, while Uniform Choice, and Doggy Style somewhat later bands, became known as the prominent straight edge bands from the West Coast. Another Orange County band of note is The U.S. Bombs fronted by Duane Peters. True Sounds of Liberty (TSOL) was perhaps the most infamous for violence, and for an abrupt and unpopular change towards proto-Gothic rock and, much later, Aerosmith-style heavy metal as the scene developed; future underground stars The Vandals evolved from TSOL's eventual breakdown. Other Orange County bands included Stick To Your Guns, White Mice, The Offspring, Big Drill Car, Guttermouth, SPLNTR, Suicidal Tendencies (who were from Venice but were associated with Orange County hardcore), China White, Shattered Faith, Masque of Demise, Social Task, The Screwz and Channel 3. The Dils were originally from Orange County but later relocated to San Francisco, California. The area had a big hand in the 3rd Wave Ska scene with this region giving rise to Save Ferris, Reel Big Fish and the scenes' most well-known act the Gwen Stefani-fronted No Doubt who would go on to Pop superstardom.

San Diego

The Neutrons gained limited success, eventually changing their name to Battalion of Saints. The Donkey Show was a ska band that saw some notoriety during the late 80s, helping to establish the genre known as 3rd wave ska. The late 80s gave rise to San Diego's first straight-edge band "Amenity" out of Chula Vista. Members Mike Down, Tim Gonzales, Barry Kellman, and Sergio Hernandez would have started a scene which shared the likes with Orange County bands "Chain of Strength" and "Inside Out" feat. Zach de la Rocha. Amenity later formed "House of Suffering" (w/ song "Draw the Line" covered by San Diego locals POD). House of Suffering featured Katon de Pena (front man for "Hirax") who sang for the group in early 90s. Sergio of Amenity later formed "the B-Side Players" who still perform today. Amenity reunited in 2008 to play for book "Radio Silence" and went to record "Shine" ep and video. Amenity influenced bands in the mid-90s Unbroken that became a very influential hardcore band in not just San Diego, but California in general. Highly influential Post-Hardcore luminaries, Drive Like Jehu (and the subsequent band, Hot Snakes) hail from San Diego as well. Sharing members with Drive Like Jehu, Rocket from the Crypt, gained notoriety in the 90s with vocalist and tastemaker John Reis' Swami Records and Swami Sound System radio show being very influential in the area.. In the pop-punk scene of the '90s, Blink-182, from Poway, rose to stardom. From the reggae scene came Slightly Stoopid. More recently, bands like The Locust and Cattle Decapitation, all of which feature members prominent in the hardcore community in San Diego, have become increasingly popular on a worldwide basis. Additionally, Rob Crow of Pinback, Goblin Cock, Thingy, Heavy Vegetable, guest vocals for Team Sleep, as well as a myriad of other projects has grown to much popularity in the last few years.

San Fernando Valley

Also of note is the band Bad Religion, who hailed from the western San Fernando Valley and were only marginally associated with hardcore punk rock from the South Bay area. The punk scene in the eastern San Fernando Valley was closely tied in with that of nearby Hollywood and produced bands such as The Dickies, Fear, and The Angry Samoans.The band Iconoclast, Public Nuisance, and some members of Circle One also hailed from this area. Public Nuisance were affiliated with a gang of punk rockers known as the Circle One Family. Numerous punks shows in the 1980s, including shows by Circle Jerks and Black Flag, took place in a warehouse on the old site of Devonshire Downs in Northridge. In more recent years, the post-punk-inspired band, She Wants Revenge has been based in the San Fernando Valley. The late 90s brought about label Ibex Records where there was a punk revival with the two bands Nonetheless and Soapbox Revolt who frequently played in Reseda at the American Legion Hall.

San Francisco

Outside of New York, London, and Cleveland, San Francisco probably had the earliest punk scene, at least as far back as 1976. The scene was aided by San Francisco's famously laid back attitude towards alternative lifestyles, and the legendary record label Alternative Tentacles. Crime and The Nuns were first, followed by Chrome, The Mutants, The Units, VKTMS, AlieNation, The Contractions, Angst, The Sleepers, Pop-O-Pies, [[Sick Pleasure]porn] (aka Code of Honor), Crucifix, Negative Trend, The Avengers (band), SSI, Flipper and Pink Section. The most influential San Francisco hardcore band was the Dead Kennedys, whose frontman, Jello Biafra, became a noted social activist even after the band's last show at the On Broadway, which included The Black Athletes and Naked Lady Wrestlers on the card. Many hardcore bands moved to San Francisco, including legends MDC, as well as D.R.I., Tales of Terror (from Sacramento, CA. who made Kurt Cobain's Top 50 list of favorite Bands and essential listening), The Dicks and Rhythm Pigs Fat Wreck Chords (all from Texas).


Berkeley, California experienced a hardcore boom led by Fang. Berkeley also saw hardcore fusing with heavy metal to form thrash metal and bands like Possessed, Faith No More, Metallica, and Exodus.

Also in the mid-late '80s hardcore, pop punk, and ska punk bands gained a following with bands such as Operation Ivy (band), Crimpshrine, The Mr. T Experience, The Lookouts, Isocracy (band), Green Day, Blatz, and Plaid Retina. These bands played at the infamous Gilman Street Project and released records on Lookout! Records. This trend continued into the 90's with prominent bands like AFI and Screw 32.

San Jose

San Jose's most famous hardcore band was The Faction, who played with local bands like Tongue Avulsion and Los Olvidados. It is also from where some member(s) of Rancid hailed. Punk rock band, No Use for a Name, also is from San Jose. A more recent punk rock band that came out of San Jose is Communist Kayte, who played the Vans Warped Tour in 2013.

Alternative rock

Main article: Alternative rock

Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth grew up in Los Angeles, where she attended Otis Art Institute, before moving to New York.

Wall of Voodoo multiple-drum-machine and Farfisa organ laden recordings with wild guitars and clever and desert wise road lyrics out of central Hollywood Boulevard and Selma Avenue wild life started the New wave trend in Southern California late 70s early 80s.

The Cretones added power pop guitar riffs and thoughtful lyrics with a touch of humor and sarcasm in the late 70s early 80s. They attracted the attention of Linda Ronstadt, who recorded three of their songs on her new wave album Mad Love, titled after the Cretones' song.

At the same time that Gothic rock began in the United Kingdom, a parallel death rock scene evolved in Los Angeles out of the punk scene, with bands like 45 Grave and Christian Death.

Inspired by bands like The Gun Club and Ohio transplants The Cramps, cowpunk bands such as Tex & the Horseheads, Blood on the Saddle, and The Lazy Cowgirls arose from Los Angeles in the 1980s.

The Paisley Underground scene would arise out of Los Angeles in the mid-1980s around Redd Kross, The Three O'Clock (originally The Salvation Army), The Bangles, The Dream Syndicate and others. In a completely different vein, Faith No More also first came to national attention about the same time with their mix of punk, funk, rock, and theatricality, although they would not become a huge-selling act until the end of the decade.

Los Angeles' Red Hot Chili Peppers steadily built up media attention with their first recordings in the mid-to-late-1980s, and went on to become one of the world's premier rock bands in the following decade.

Santa Cruz spawned Camper Van Beethoven in the mid-1980s.

Jane's Addiction would arise out of Venice in the late 1980s.

During the grunge era of the early 1990s, Los Angeles became less important nationally as a source of alternative rock, and bands like The Nymphs, The Hangmen and The Miracle Workers never got the attention they might have if from Seattle. Internationally popular bands from Southern California during this time were Hole, Weezer (Los Angeles) and Stone Temple Pilots (San Diego).

Bands such as Incubus (band) and Hoobastank were also popular in California in the 90s.

Thirty Seconds to Mars is a popular alternative rock band, originating from Los Angeles, California.

Thrash metal

Main article: Bay Area thrash metal

The Bay Area thrash scene was centered around Los Angeles and San Francisco in the 1980s and 1990s. Bands associated with this scene include Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Exodus, Vio-lence, Suicidal Tendencies, Dark Angel, Death Angel, D.R.I., Testament, Forbidden, Defiance, Evildead and Holy Terror.

1990s and 2000s

Desert rock

Main article: Palm Desert Scene

Desert Rock was formed by a group of closely related bands and musicians from Palm Desert in Southern California, including San Bernardino, Redlands, Palm Springs, and Indio. Their hard rock sound – which was often described as desert rock – contains elements of psychedelia, blues, heavy metal and other genres, such as hardcore, as well as distinctive repetitive drum beats; typically performed with electric guitar, bass guitar and a drum kit. The musicians often play in multiple bands simultaneously, and there is a high rate of collaboration between bands. The Palm Desert Scene is also notable for producing stoner rock pioneers Kyuss. The term "stoner rock" is sometimes used interchangeably with "desert rock." However, not all Desert Rock bands are "stoner rock."

Notable Desert Rock style acts include Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Sleep (band), Truckfighters, Eagles of Death Metal, Fatso Jetson, and Fu Manchu (band).

Hip hop

Main article: West Coast hip hop

During the 1980s, hip hop music flourished in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, especially Watts and Compton. Derived from New York City, hip hop drew upon primarily Jamaican and East Coast influences, though early 1970s black nationalist poets The Watts Prophets were also notable. The earliest forms of Los Angeles hip hop were hardcore hip hop artists like Ice-T (whose mid-80s "6 'N Da Mornin'" is arguably the first West Coast gangsta rap track). Among the most popular electro hop groups was the World Class Wrecking Cru, which included future star Dr. Dre, DJ Yela, and others and also featured singer Michel'le an early pioneer in combining soulful R&B singing with Hip-Hop beats. In 1988, Dr. Dre, along with Eazy-E and Ice Cube, released Straight Outta Compton under the name N.W.A. The album took many hip hop fans by surprise, as it single-handedly placed West Coast hip hop on the map and quickly moved gangsta rap into the mainstream. The main gangsta rap and west coast hip hop cities were Long Beach, San Francisco, Oakland, Vallejo, Pittsburg, California Sacramento, Richmond, California, East Palo Alto, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno, Compton, and Inglewood called "The Golden Age of Rap," the 1990s saw the rise of such legendary rappers as Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Yo-Yo (rapper), 2Pac, and, Ice Cube, as well as the group Cypress Hill.[5]

In the 1990s' Ice Cube released a total of six albums throughout the course of the 90s: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (1990), Kill at Will (1990), Death Certificate (1991), The Predator (1992), Lethal Injection (1993), and War & Peace Vol. 1 (The War Disc) (1998). The first five albums all went platinum, and the last one, War & Peace, went gold. Cube became an icon for West Coast hip hop for his songs about social and political issues. In 1992, Dr. Dre's solo debut, The Chronic, made West Coast hip hop and Death Row Records the dominant sound in hip hop, drawing primarily upon George Clinton's P-Funk for samples and the general, slow, lazy funk, which G-funk music was founded in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Death Row Records soon acquired Tupac Shakur, Warren G and Snoop Doggy Dogg as a feud developed between the East and West Coasts. In the mid-90s, Shakur and his rival Notorious B.I.G. were both shot and killed. Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight was imprisoned, and most of the label's acts tried to leave. The lack of leadership helped put New York, Atlanta and New Orleans on the top of the hip hop charts, leaving local would-be legends and underground MC's (emcees) to work under self-financed productions.

In the 1990s, underground hip hop flourished in the San Francisco Bay Area. Early pioneers included Too $hort and E-40; their success helped pave the way for new performers like RBL Posse, whose 1992 "Don't Gimme No Bammer" achieved some crossover success. The Bay Area's thriving underground rap scene has produced literally hundreds of artists, some of the better known being Andre Nickatina, The Coup, Michael Franti, Paris, Blackalicious, Ya Boy, San Quinn, and Emcee Lynx. The Bay Area is also home to the relatively new "Hyphy" subgenre. Mac Dre was one of the notable innovators. San Francisco was very impressive in rap/hip hop. It boasted west coast legends Rappin' 4-Tay, RBL Posse, Andre Nickatina, JT The Bigga Figga, Cougnut, and more. San Francisco and Oakland were some of the homes of the late global rapping legend Tupac Shakur. The inner-city of San Francisco's neighborhoods' crime inspired the rap scene of San Francisco.

Indie rock

Main article: Indie rock

The early 1990s saw the emergence of Pavement, an influential indie rock band from Stockton. In the mid-1990s, Beck came out of the Silver Lake (a neighborhood in Los Angeles) indie rock scene. Los Angeles has also produced the folky singer-songwriter Ross Altman.

The 2000s have seen the emergence of Ariel Pink, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Or, The Whale, The Aislers Set, The Botticellis and Scissors for Lefty, Deerhoof, The Dodos, The Curtains, and The Union Trade from San Francisco and The Quarter After, Scarling., Autolux, Giant Drag, Brian Jonestown Massacre, HEALTH, Fool's Gold, No Age, Abe Vigoda and the Warlocks from Los Angeles. Though originally from Portland, much of Elliott Smith's music is about and was created in Los Angeles.

Groups from San Diego include The Album Leaf, Three Mile Pilot, Pinback, Thingy, The Soft Pack, The Black Heart Procession.


Main article: Experimental music

The Smell, opened in 1998, is an all-ages, punk rock/noise/experimental venue in Downtown Los Angeles, home to many of the area's avant-garde performers and artists.

Grouper was born in West Marin, California.

Hardcore punk

Main article: Hardcore punk

During the 1990s, San Diego saw the emergence of Heroin, Antioch Arrow, and other innovative hardcore bands. Many released albums on the Gravity Records label. Southern California saw the rise of Christian hardcore, specifically Spirit-filled hardcore(SFHXC) during the mid-90s with the likes of The Blamed, Bloodshed, Focused, No Innocent Victim, and Unashamed. This led to drummer Jason Dunn of No Innocent Victim starting Facedown Records. As metalcore became the popular subgenre of hardcore in the late 1990s to early 2000s, bands such as As I Lay Dying, Atreyu, Death By Stereo, Bleeding Through, Eighteen Visions and Throwdown made their mark in Southern California.

Nu metal and alternative metal

Main articles: Nu metal and Alternative metal

California was at the forefront for the emergence of these two genres in the 1990s with nu metal bands such as Korn, Linkin Park, Papa Roach and P.O.D all coming from California along with alternative metal bands such Faith No More, Jane's Addiction, Rage Against the Machine, Tool/A Perfect Circle, Deftones and System of a Down.

Music festivals and organizations

California hosts many well-known music festivals in a wide variety of fields, including the Stern Grove Festival, the Hootenanny at Irvine Park, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, and Facedown Fest. There are multiple jazz festivals including the Monterey Jazz Festival (one of the oldest jazz festivals in the world[6]), the San Jose Jazz Festival, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, and the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles. The Monterey Pop Festival, held in 1967, is perhaps the most famous concert in California's history; the show launched the international careers of performers like Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Otis Redding and Janis Joplin.

Music organizations in the state include the Community Arts Music Association. There is also an organization that gives out California Music Awards.

Jazz in California

See also: West Coast jazz

Influential jazz musicians from California include Dave Brubeck, Vince Guaraldi, Jimmy Giuffre, and Cal Tjader, while vocal jazz legends Etta James, Jo Stafford, and Ivie Anderson also call California home. Other California jazz musicians include Larry Bunker, Buddy Collette, Eric Dolphy, Dexter Gordon, Chico Hamilton, Charles Mingus, Leroy Vinnegar, Gerald Wilson, and Britt Woodman. A revival of Swing & Big Band music was led by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in the '90s.

Classical music in California

California has a number of established orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony (1911), Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (1919), San Diego Symphony (1910), Fremont Symphony Orchestra, Oakland East Bay Symphony (formed in 1988 by combining two older organizations), Coachella Valley Symphony, Peninsula Symphony Orchestra (1949), and the Fresno Philharmonic Association (1954).

20th century avant garde composer John Cage was born in Los Angeles. Lou Harrison, a contemporary and sometimes collaborator of Cage's, grew up around San Francisco, where he met William Colvig in 1967, with whom he helped develop American gamelan. Other notable composers from California include David Cope, Henry Cowell, Harry Partch and Terry Riley. See: West Coast school.

Russian-born composer Igor Stravinsky lived in Los Angeles from the 1940s-1960s.

Katy Perry-pop singer from Santa Barbara, has had 9 #1 Hot 100 hits from 2008-2014, including "California Gurls" ft. Snoop Dogg in 2010. She was the halftime show at Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Rubeck, Jack; Blake, Ben; Shaw, Allan (1986). The Kingston Trio On Record. KK, Inc. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-674-95133-4. 
  3. ^ [[[:Template:Allmusic]] "Folk-Rock Overview"]. AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-03-15. 
  4. ^ Gendron, Bernard. (2002). Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde. University Of Chicago Press. p. 180. ISBN 0-226-28737-8. 
  5. ^ Central California Hip Hop 04-05-2015 Retrieved. 04-05-2015
  6. ^ "Many appetites fulfilled at the Monterey Jazz Festival". Northside San Francisco. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 


  • Blush, Steven (2001). American Hardcore: A Tribal History. Feral House. ISBN 0-922915-71-7
  • Nettl, Bruno (1965). Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents. Inglewood, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

External links