Down a set of
dark and dusty steps is a basement room cluttered with
stereo equipment, stacks of CDs and records, and half-empty
cups of coffee.
This is The
Chronicle's Pop Music Laboratory. A team of experts
recently adjourned to this room on a Friday evening to
examine in detail the history of San Francisco pop music.
They didn't emerge until the early hours of Saturday
morning. In that time their goal -- to compile an
authoritative, comprehensive list of the 100 greatest
bands ever to emerge from the Bay Area -- was
pop music staff -- Pop Music Editor Joel Selvin, critics
James Sullivan and Neva Chonin, and Datebook
Entertainment Editor Mark Lundgren -- debated each band
at length, weighing the merits of such disparate entries
as Green Day, Tower of Power and E-40.
candidate was evaluated using the same criteria. The
first consideration was the quality of each band's work.
The second was the magnitude of the band's contribution
or influence. Points were added for originality and
durability. Then the team mixed in that elusive quality
we called ``San Francisco-ness,'' which bolstered acts
like Sylvester and the Tubes.
geographical guidelines were, roughly, Santa Rosa to
Santa Cruz -- the greater Bay Area. We ruled out the
Central Valley, and bands such as Cake and Pavement,
because no matter how hard it tries, the Central Valley
isn't the Bay Area. We also prohibited sideline groups
and spin-offs to handle that sticky matter of Grateful
spent only a portion of their career in the Bay Area,
such as Van Morrison, Neil Young and Tom Waits, were
ranked according to the work they did while living here.
The list is
entirely rockcentric, which means that although we
included several blues and folk musicians, their ratings
were calculated from a rock perspective.
entry, we selected a ``Definitive Song'' -- not
necessarily the group's biggest hit, but rather the
single track that best sums up the band's sound and style.
1. SLY AND THE
What could be more San Francisco? Black. White. Boys.
Girls. Soul. Rock. Hints of the Beatles and Bob Dylan
alongside echoes of Ray Charles and James Brown.
Sly was his
own greatest hit -- a Vallejo church kid and doo-wop
wannabe who produced Beatlesque hits for white teens and
became the boss soul man of Bay Area black radio before
launching his own group.
Sly and the
Family Stone changed the way music was played -- from the
way Stevie Wonder sang to the funky rumblings behind
Miles Davis. They pointed the future of jazz to Herbie
Hancock and made the Temptations grow up. There would be
no Prince if there hadn't been a Sly Stone. Michael
Jackson is such a fan, he bought the publishing rights.
prince of Woodstock may have succumbed to his private
demons, but his music lives on in the reverberations.
They're still heard vividly -- original, brilliant and
dangerous enough to be scary.
Song: ``I Want to Take You Higher'' (1969)
CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL
John Fogerty's childhood recollections of a South he only
imagined from his El Cerrito home made Creedence the
great American rock band that the Band was supposed to be
but never was. Dismissed as a Top 40 band by hipsters
living in the golden age of FM, Cree dence had the last
laugh: Those swampy hits outlasted their detractors to
Song: ``Born on the Bayou'' (1969)
THE GRATEFUL DEAD
House band for the dawning of the psychedelic era, the
Dead started out playing for Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters
parties and wound up being the cosmic consciousness of a
nation of Deadheads. In the late, great Jerry Garcia, the
band had a centrifuge whose music could span Chuck Berry,
Django Reinhardt, Bill Monroe and Ornette Coleman in a
single set. With a mandate to explore the widest
possibilities of ensemble rock improvisation, the Dead
pushed the music into places it never went before. Or
Song: ``Dark Star'' (1970)
Inspiring generations of stubborn refuseniks, the
Groovies were an anomaly in psychedelic San Francisco,
playing switchblade rock in the ballrooms of peace and
love. While singer Roy Loney went solo with the Phantom
Movers, bandleader Cyril Jordan took the group to England,
where a partnership with Dave Edmunds led to a punk-era
Song: ``Shake Some Action'' (1976)
Before there was grunge, there was Metalli ca. The
multiplatinum Los Angeles-born, San Francisco-bred band's
speed metal and messy hair provided a potent antithesis
to the poppy '80s. The members' hair is shorter in the '90s,
but they still rock louder than anyone else.
Song: ``Master of Puppets'' (1987)
As impossible as it may have been to just throw together
all those disparate elements -- Marty Balin's pseudo-soul folksinging, the warbly contralto of Grace Slick,
guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's brilliant blues finger picking,
Jack Casady's experimental bass playing, Paul Kantner's
stoney polemics -- on the nights it came together,
nothing else was ever like an Airplane flight.
Song: ``Somebody to Love'' (1967)
Carlos Santana's ``Supernatural'' success this year marks
30 years as the undisputed champ of global rock. He is
one of the few true stylists on the electric guitar. His
original, Woodstock-era group was inducted into the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Song: ``Incident at Neshubar'' (1975)
TOWER OF POWER
Back to Oakland. Not only did Tower of Power's horn
section set the standard for soul brass of the '70s -- it
also put its punch on records for Elton John, Phil
Collins and others. But Emilio Castillo and Steve (Doc)
Kupka's songs such as ``You're Still a Young Man,'' ``Down
to the Nightclub'' and ``So Very Hard to Go'' stand the
test of the years. A new generation of jazz and funk
players invariably cite Tower as a prime influence.
Song: ``What Is Hip'' (1973)
In the early '90s, Green Day took punk rock to the top of
the charts and transformed Berkeley's tiny Gilman Street
club into a cause celebre. Incredibly, the band
accomplished this without compromising one iota of its
goofy verisimilitude and independent credibility -- which
is probably why it's still huge going into 2000.
Song: ``Longview'' (1994)
Famously, Columbia released five singles from the debut
album simultaneously. Such pressure was bound to take its
toll, and it did. Legal trouble, Skip Spence's
hospitalization for mental illness at Bellevue, and the
band's never-ending disputes with manager Matthew Katz
made the group one of the biggest underachievers of the '60s.
Still, the Grape's best moments of high-strung acid-folk-rock
defined the decade.
Song: ``Omaha'' (1967)
As much a cultural force as a rock band, Jello Biafra and
Dead Kennedys made San Francisco ground zero for
political punk. Their first single, ``California Uber Alles,'' got the ball rolling on a controversial career
that eventually sparked a national debate on censorship
over their 1985 sophomore album, ``Frankenchrist.''
Song: ``California Uber Alles'' (1979)
It would be hard to be more San Francisco than Sylvester.
He was the only member to survive the insane '70s
theatrical group the Cockettes, and when he became a gay
disco diva, he took his show to the Opera House for a
fabulous extravaganza he titled ``Flowers While You Live.''
The gifted singer died of AIDS in 1988 at age 38.
Song: ``You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)'' (1979)
The Tubes were the greatest rock band in the world for a
second, although nobody outside San Francisco knew it.
They simultaneously spoofed and celebrated '70s excess.
Typically, the band's only big chart success was a slick,
wimpy ballad played with Hollywood sidemen (``She's a
Beauty''). But Quay Lewd, the faux English rock star
teetering on towering platform boots, reigned supreme.
Song: ``White Punks on Dope'' (1975)
Led by the proud weirdo bassist Les Claypool, the group
reinvented progressive rock for the grunge era. Album
titles say plenty about Primus' commitment to absurdity:
``Sailing the Seas of Cheese,'' ``Pork Soda.'' The band
also originated one of the most brilliant slogans in rock
history: ``Primus Sucks!''
Song: ``John the Fisherman'' (1989)
The gentle California strummer (``I Am a Child'') has
also been appointed the Godfather of Grunge for his
electric guitar fetish (``Like a Hurricane''). He's rock's
consummate curmudgeon, and also its voice of compassion.
His star-studded annual Bridge School concerts have set
the standard for benefit shows and have become the most
eagerly anticipated concert events in the Bay Area.
Song: ``Rockin' in the Free World'' (1989)
The lonely surfer. It took a fluke hit from a David Lynch
film soundtrack to launch this moody guy. But he's become
a San Francisco evergreen with his sultry good looks and
deadpan gags with sidekick/drummer Kenney Dale Johnson.
Song: ``Wicked Game'' (1990)
He made his name with L.A.'s Death Row Records, but Tupac
Shakur was a product of Marin's meanest streets. He was
rap's chosen figure, full of light and dark, and his
mysterious shooting death and that of his archrival
Notorious B.I.G. will always be one of pop music's
Song: ``Dear Mama'' (1995)
Together with Green Day, Rancid was and is the toast of
Northern California's '90s punk scene. Rising from the
ashes of the ska-punk outfit Operation Ivy, the band's
sound updated the Clash's reggae rock to fit the world of
urban/suburban California youth. Credited with finally
making the Mohawk fashionable.
Song: ``Time Bomb'' (1995)
19. VAN MORRISON
His Marin County years -- from ``And His Band and Street
Choir'' (1970) through ``Inarticulate Speech of the Heart''
(1983) -- form the heart of his peerless body of work.
And one of the best things about living in the Bay Area
during those years was Morrison's frequent appearances at
small clubs. He was playing somewhere around town almost
every week for years.
Song: ``Bright Side of the Road'' (1979)
20. SONS OF
This band of Marin County natives was the real deal, one
of the best unknown bands of its time. Its 1969 debut --
a double-record set on which neither pictures nor even
the musi cians' names appear -- is a pinnacle of hippie
rock. But after more than a dozen years of plugging away
with one of the best bands in the world, vocalist Bill
Champlin called it quits and moved to Los Angeles. There
he won Grammy awards as a songwriter the first two years
and joined multiplatinum popsters Chicago, although he
returned in 1997 for a sentimental reunion with the
Song: ``Freedom'' (1969)
21. ROMEO VOID
Debora Iyall was one of those extravagantly imaginative
artist types that San Francisco breeds. Her flair for the
jagged lyrical image set against the stark, moving
backdrop provided by her band made Romeo Void the new
wave band of San Francisco.
Song: ``Never Say Never'' (1981)
22. STEVE MILLER
Some people call him Maurice because he speaks of the
mysterious pompitous of love. From his Fillmore days with
the Steve Miller Blues Band (Dallas boyhood buddy Boz
Scaggs on guitar) to his high-flying '70s hits, Miller
was always one of the most conscientious careerists of
the San Francisco rockers. But he made a lot of great
sides along the way.
Song: ``The Joker'' (1973)
23. BIG BROTHER
AND THE HOLDING COMPANY
Janis Joplin never sounded better than she did backed by
the four wacky fellows she started out with. She never
topped the Monterey Pop Festival performance that
anchored her legend. And guitarist James Gurley could be
one of the most underrated forces of nature in rock
Song: ``Ball and Chain'' (1968)
Most popular band in the country for a minute or two. A
tricky but successful lead singer switch at the peak of
popularity took the band's music in a more urbane
direction and extended its shelf life many years.
Song: ``China Grove'' (1973)
25. CAMPER VAN
Perhaps the quintessential band of the ``college-rock''
heyday of the 1980s, Santa Cruz's Camper messed with
every style it could get its hands on. Absurdity was the
one constant, beginning with the song that first got the
band noticed: ``Take the Skinheads Bowling.'' David
Lowery went on to front Cracker.
Song: ``Life Is Grand'' (1988)
26. BOZ SCAGGS
He defined San Francisco for more than a decade, spanning
the free-form FM radio of the late '60s (the majestic 12-minute
blues ``Loan Me a Dime,'' featuring Duane Allman) and the
blue-eyed soul-disco of the late '70s (``Lowdown,'' ``Lido
Shuffle''). Part owner of the nightclub mainstay Slim's.
Song: ``Loan Me a Dime'' (1969)
27. TOM WAITS
He's a rag man with a philosophy degree, the piano man in
the carny's traveling bar car. He's been a Sonoma County
resident for nearly a decade. Rock's most prominent avant-
gardist toured most of 1999 after several years in near
Song: ``Innocent When You Dream'' (1987)
28. TOO $HORT
Oakland's Too $hort (Todd Shaw) was the West Coast's
first rap star, recording four albums on his own before
making his major-label debut with 1988's ``Born to Mack.''
That album went gold; his next four CDs went platinum.
Meet the real original gangsta.
Song: ``The Ghetto'' (1990)
Inventors of the power ballad and champions of the '80s
baseball park concert, Journey ruled the world for an
instant. One of MTV's early video moments was Steve Perry
shaving his mustache. Even if they'll never admit it,
many of today's young, hip rockers started out playing
air guitar to Journey records.
Song: ``Open Arms'' (1982)
The godsons of George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic,
these Oakland caricatures made some of hip-hop's silliest,
most infectious grooves -- ``Doowutchyalike'' and the
groupie anthem ``Freaks of the Industry.'' Launchpad for
Tupac Shakur and the Luniz (``I Got 5 on It'').
Song: ``The Humpty Dance'' (1990)
31. FAITH NO MORE
San Francisco's Faith No More hit the big time with its
1985 album and single, ``We Care a Lot.'' The band filled
the long, lonely gap in good Top 40 music until grunge
came along to save the day. In the '90s, band members
branched out to form Imperial Teen (Roddy Bottum) and Mr.
Bungle (Mike Patton).
Song: ``We Care a Lot'' (1985)
32. EN VOGUE
Mixing the R&B girl-group tradition with hip-hop and
lots of sex appeal, this quartet of funky divas was an
MTV staple in 1992 with the impossibly catchy single ``Free
Song: ``Free Your Mind'' (1992)
On any given night, they were better than the Dead.
Although flashy guitarist John Cipollina was nominally
the chief attraction, guitarist Gary Duncan was the band's
real tightrope walker, a jazzy jammer who could hold his
own with the best. Vastly underrated band remembered
mostly these days -- sigh -- for Dino Valente's puerile
``Have Another Hit'' and not the band's glory days at the
Song: ``Pride of Man'' (1969)
34. CHARLES BROWN
His smooth, urbane '40s piano and ballad stylings didn't
make Brown an obvious candidate for the guitar-driven
blues renaissance of 1968, although his signature ``Driftin'
Blues'' found its way into the repertoires of Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield and others. When his turn
finally came in the late '80s, Charles was ready --
living in Berkeley senior housing, working as a janitor,
but practicing three hours a day. When the money started
rolling in, he moved downstairs. One of music's real
greats and one of life's real gentlemen.
Song: ``Somebody to Love'' (with Bonnie Raitt) (1992)
In the post-glam, pre-punk '70s when rock music was the
stomping ground of arena dinosaurs, Jonathan Richman and
the Modern Lovers kept the underground flame burning with
a sound somewhere between the Velvet Underground and the
Dave Clark Five. ``Roadrunner'' is a much-copied classic.
Song: ``Roadrunner'' (1975)
36. HOT TUNA
Taking public what were essentially their hotel-room jam
sessions after Jefferson Airplane concerts, childhood
friends guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady
have continued this extraordinary collaboration through
four decades. Considering how long some of their shows
can be -- clocked at more than eight hours one epic night
-- they might just be warming up for the next century.
Song: ``Candy Man'' (1971)
37. DJ SHADOW
Part of the Berkeley-based Solesides crew. DJ Shadow
brilliantly broke the rules and expanded the horizons of
underground hip- hop with his lauded 1997 solo debut, ``Endtroducing
. . .'' He has since collaborated with a pantheon of edgy
experimentalists to produce some of the most innovative
Song: ``Midnight in a Perfect World'' (1997)
38. JOHN LEE
The man who made the guitar a threat. Now 80, he recently
marked the 50th year of his breakthrough R&B smash ``Boogie Chillun.'' After stints in swinging London and on the
hippie circuit with Canned Heat, Hooker is enjoying his
third or fourth career renaissance, which began with 1989's
Grammy-winning ``The Healer.'' He's been a Bay Area man
Song: ``Boom Boom'' (1963)
39. THE RESIDENTS
To quote a fitting cliche, only in San Francisco. Still
an enigma after decades of recording, the Residents --
known for their anonymity and odd disguises -- spew out
satiric songs that land somewhere between electronic hard
core and avant-jazz. Their cover of a Stones standard
ranks as a classic in its own right.
Song: ``Satisfaction'' (1976)
40. HUEY LEWIS AND
What started as a loose-knit Corte Madera jam session
after ``Monday Night Football'' became the most popular
American rock band of 1985. They were always Marin County
hippies in golf clothing -- their motto was ``infiltrate
and double-cross'' -- but they never regained their
credibility after the misunderstood ``Hip to Be Square.''
Anybody who doesn't think this band can rock with the
greatest should check Lewis and company anonymously
backing up Nick Lowe on ``I Knew the Bride.''
Song: ``Workin' for a Living'' (1982)
41. BLUE CHEER
Mere mortals with the command of thunder. The original
power trio could have been the loudest band to ever play
Song: ``Summertime Blues'' (1968)
42. COUNTRY JOE
AND THE FISH
One of the great names of the psychedelic '60s, Country
Joe conjures up memories of Woodstock's half-million
giving the ``Fish'' cheer. ``Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die
Rag'' was agitprop pop, but the band also excelled on
Song: ``Section 43'' (1967)
43. COUNTING CROWS
Rootsy six-piece Berkeley group had a whopping debut with
the multiplatinum (``August and Everything After''),
featuring the tone-setting modern lament ``Round Here.''
Since then, faux-dreadlocked singer Adam Duritz has
become a bona fide rock star, with his dating tendencies
attracting as much attention as his songwriting. This
year's ``This Desert Life'' should prove to be the record
that guarantees the band long-term respect.
Song: ``Round Here'' (1993)
Born of the punk band Negative Trend, San Francisco's
Flipper ruled the underground in 1982 with their beyond-hard-core
masterwork ``Sex Bomb.'' It was the perfect paean to life
on California's underbelly: loud, sloppy and brilliantly
Song: ``Sex Bomb'' (1982)
Hammer went from Oakland A's batboy to Saturday morning
cartoon show, always a crowd pleaser. He sold 10 million
albums and spent every penny. Paid for a mansion in
Fremont -- complete with a private baseball diamond -- in
cash. Since his bankruptcy, he can be found preaching
gospel in local churches.
Song: ``U Can't Touch This'' (1990)
46. THIRD EYE
Self-titled 1997 debut was stuffed with radio-ready songs,
including the momentarily ubiquitous ``Semi-Charmed Life.''
The follow- up, ``Blue,'' sounds as if it could continue
the streak. The band, led by spotlight magnet Stephan
Jenkins, opened for U2 and the Rolling Stones mere months
after it graduated from the local dives.
Song: ``Semi-Charmed Life'' (1997)
47. TONY TONI TONE
Oakland R&B all-in-the-family trio slicked up Al
Green and Kool & the Gang for a new generation with
such Top 40 hits as ``Feels Good'' and ``Pillow (Lay Your
Head on My).'' Multi-instrumentalist Raphael Saddiq has
collaborated with John Mellencamp and the Bee Gees.
Song: ``The Oakland Stroke'' (1990)
48. AMERICAN MUSIC
AMC belongs to an exclusive, unenviable club of bands
that spent entire careers amassing critical acclaim and
commercial indifference. The group's gorgeous, moody
music continues to inspire a devoted cult following, and
its talented founder, Mark Eitzel, remains to carry the
torch as a solo singer-songwriter.
Song: ``Hello Amsterdam'' (1994)
49. BOBBY FREEMAN
San Francisco's first rock 'n' roll star. Freeman wrote
and sang ``Do You Wanna Dance?'' when he was barely out
of Mission High -- a song since covered by the Beach Boys,
John Lennon, Bette Midler, the Mamas and Papas and others.
His 1964 Top 10 hit ``C'mon and Swim'' introduced the
talents of 19-year-old songwriter-producer Sly Stone.
Song: ``Do You Wanna Dance?'' (1958)
50. THE AVENGERS
Not only did the Avengers bring the British punk
aesthetic to the Bay Area, they succeeded in upstaging
the Sex Pistols at their notorious Winterland concert in
1978. ``We Are the One'' remains the band's unofficial
Song: ``We Are the One'' (1978)
51. KINGSTON TRIO
More than a few of the rock musicians who put San
Francisco on the map in the '60s started out strumming
along to Kingston Trio albums. Plus, they showed the
Beach Boys how to dress.
Song: ``A Worried Man'' (1959)
52. BEAU BRUMMELS
The Beau Brummels revolved around the shadowy tenor of
Sal Valentino and the song craft of Ron Elliott. They
were the Merseybeat from North Beach. Their latter-era
Warner Bros. albums include the minor masterpieces ``Bradley's
Barn'' and ``Triangle.'' But nothing matched the dark
bite of the group's Beatles knockoffs produced by a young
Song: ``Just a Little'' (1965)
53. HOODOO RHYTHM
A hard-luck story. Greatest bar band ever on a good night,
the Hoodoos couldn't buy a break through three major-label
albums. The two bandleaders -- Glenn Walters and Joe
Crane -- made the great, undiscovered album on their own
label (with help from guitarists Steve Miller, Ronnie
Montrose and Link Wray). Clive Davis falls asleep
auditioning the band at a Berkeley nightclub. It never
happens for the Hoodoos.
Song: ``Safecracker'' (1976)
Michael Franti emerged from the breakup of the Disposable
Heroes of Hiphoprisy to find acclaim -- and more
commercial success -- as the leader of the edgy reggae
band Spearhead. ``There's a Hole in the Pocket'' was an
MTV hit that aptly reflected the group's pro-people,
Song: ``There's a Hole in the Pocket'' (1994)
Out of the ashes of the little-remembered Beatnik Beatch
arose Jellyfish, a frankly Beatleseque pop group of some
magnificence. It landed a big record deal, cut a couple
of promising albums and went into the wind. The band's
floppy hats quickly looked dated.
Song: ``That Is Why'' (1990)
Classic David and Goliath: This loony collective boiled
down its two decades of found- sound and tape-loop
experiments with a brilliant piece of parody, merging U2's
``I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For'' with the
foul-mouthed outtakes of ``American Top 40'' announcer
Casey Kasem. It cost them dearly: Island Records sued
them almost out of existence and crushed their label, SST.
The group still satirizes fearlessly.
Song: ``U2'' (1991)
57. ROBERT CRAY
The Portland-based bluesman liked playing in the Bay Area
so much he moved here and recruited the house band from
Larry Blake's Rathskellar to back him up. San Francisco
never sounded so Southern.
Song: ``Smoking Gun'' (1987)
58. GRAHAM CENTRAL
Ooh wee, was this band funky. Bassist and vocalist
extraordinaire Larry Graham, fresh out of Sly and the
Family Stone, would lead the band onstage and snaking
through the audience playing ``Can't Turn You Loose'' on melodicas, then they would strap on their instruments and
start the song for real without missing a beat. And play
a 40-minute medley. They don't make 'em like that anymore.
Song: ``Can You Handle It?'' (1974)
59. JOE SATRIANI
The most respected of the guitar-magazine cover boys,
Satriani makes instrumental records that are as tasteful
as they are showy. As a teacher, he can claim an
impressive list of students including Steve Vai and
Metallica's Kirk Hammett.
Song: ``Surfing With the Alien'' (1987)
Boasting intellectually and politically charged rhymes
and compelling beats, Paris (Oscar Jackson Jr.) broke out
of the Bay Area with 1990's ``The Devil Made Me Do It.''
He didn't have Chuck D's clout, but he may well have been
the West Coast's own minister of culture.
Song: ``Bush Killa'' (1990)
61. JIM CARROLL
The ``Basketball Diaries'' author came to San Francisco
in search of punk rock and alternative literary history,
and he fused the two on his debut album, ``Catholic Boy'':
``It's too late/ To fall in love with Sharon Tate . . .''
Song: ``People Who Died'' (1980)
62. JOAN BAEZ
The queen of folk music danced onstage and sang with the
Grateful Dead at the Fillmore in the '60s and has a sly
twinkle in her eye that is 100 percent rock 'n' roll. Who
else would have put a civil-rights anthem on the pop
Song: ``We Shall Overcome'' (1963)
The group recorded the quintessential hippie anthem while
still in New York, but moved to Marin County soon
thereafter. Before the solo career of leader Jesse Colin
Young descended into banality, this vigorous little band
turned out some effective folk-rock inventions, although
it never got past the one big hit.
Song: ``Get Together'' (1967)
64. ELECTRIC FLAG
After his stint with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band made
him America's premier star guitarist, Mike Bloomfield
moved to Mill Valley and put together this landmark band,
whose first appearance was the historic 1967 Monterey Pop
Festival. Besides the dubious distinction of giving the
world Buddy Miles, the Flag cut a killer first album,
before Bloomfield retired to playing the blues in North
Beach clubs and Mitchell Brothers porn movies.
Song: ``Groovin' Is Easy'' (1968)
65. ELVIN BISHOP
With the incendiary soul belter Jo Baker by his side, the
ex-Paul Butterfield Blues Band guitarist ruled the Bay
Area club scene when that still mattered. His greatest
hit came later (``Fooled Around and Fell in Love''), with
future Starship vocalist Mickey Thomas no less. But
Bishop's moment had already come and gone.
Song: ``Rock Bottom'' (1972)
66. SAMMY HAGAR
Vulgar, loud and obnoxious, Sammy Hagar was a born rock
star. Undoubtedly best known for the 11 years he spent
singing with Van Halen, Hagar managed a platinum solo
career both before and after his stint with the Dutch
Song: ``Only One Way to Rock'' (1981)
67. SHEILA E.
Pedigreed Latin timbales player Sheila E. came to the
fore under the tutelage of Prince (when he still called
himself that), who wrote, produced, played and sang most
of the vocal parts on her breakthrough hit. The sex
appeal, however, was all hers.
Song: ``Glamorous Life'' (1984)
68. COMMANDER CODY
AND HIS LOST PLANET AIRMEN
Bringing a blend of barrelhouse C&W and Southern
rockabilly to the San Francisco scene, Cody and cohorts
were a lovable, oddball bunch -- from goofy Bill Kirchen
on guitar to friendly Andy Stein on sax and violin to the
cigar-chomping Commander himself. Always underrated, Cody
and company opened the door for country and western in
the rock underground, and were an obvious inspiration to
the whole Austin, Texas, scene. Special mention for the
holiday record ``Daddy's Drinking Up All Our Christmas.''
Song: ``Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar'' (1971)
69. GREG KIHN
The most commercially successful of the Beserkley Records
acts, Kihn scored an early MTV hit, kept out of the No. 1
slot only by Michael Jackson's indomitable ``Billie Jean,''
and slowly dissolved. Guitar whiz Joe Satriani played on
his band's final major-label album, Weird Al made a hit
Kihn spoof called ``I Lost on Jeopardy'' and Kihn himself
is now a San Jose morning DJ.
Song: ``Jeopardy'' (1983)
70. THE MERMEN
Surf music has never sounded so ambitious. Guitarist Jim
Thomas -- a real-life regular on the Ocean Beach breakers
-- is a compositional savant, creating dreamy, expansive
seascapes that have more in common with prog rock and
Prokofiev than ``Pipeline.''
Song: ``The Drowning Man Knows His God'' (1995)
71. THE RUBINOOS
At the height of the local scene's infatuation with loud
guitars and paralyzing rock came these Berkeley smarty-pants
musicians, barely out of their teens, playing a kind of
frothy power pop that simultaneously spoofed and
celebrated their bubble-gum roots. Their cover of Tommy
James and the Shondells' oldie ``I Think We're Alone Now''
was a chart hit before Tiffany.
Song: ``I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend'' (1979)
72. DAN HICKS AND
THE HOT LICKS
The inimitable, wry Hicks, a drummer for San Francisco
rock pioneers the Charlatans, packaged his sly cynicism
in a Hot Club de France faux jazz sound (complete with
two wonderful female ``Lickettes'') to showcase the wit
and wisdom of one of the great characters of the San
Francisco music scene.
Song: ``Where's the Money?'' (1971)
The most influential DJ crew in the world lives in San
Francisco when not on tour, which is most of the time.
Individually and as a crew, the members of the Piklz have
won countless competitions, influenced a generation of
aspiring turntablists and put San Francisco's alternative
hip-hop scene on the map.
Song: ``Invasion of the Octopus People'' (1996)
74. COUNT FIVE
A pet project of the late rock-critic wild man Lester
Bangs -- he called it ``the all-time slop- bucket copy of
the Yardbirds'' -- the Five's sole hit reached No. 5 on
the pop chart, appropriately enough. The teenage group
reportedly turned down $1 million in bookings to stay in
school, ending its brief run at trashy immortality.
Song: ``Psychotic Reaction'' (1966)
75. THE DUROCS
Songwriter Ron Nagle had already attracted something of a
cult following with his 1970 solo album, ``Bad Rice,''
and clever, witty songs for the Tubes (``Don't Touch Me
There''), Pablo Cruise, Barbra Streisand and others when
his collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and vocalist
Scott Mathews emerged. Way too smart for the mass market,
way too pop for the rock underground, the Durocs -- named
after a brand of hog -- remain one of San Francisco rock's
Song: ``Savin' It All Up for Larry'' (1979)
76. CLUB NOUVEAU
On the heels of his 1986 hit by Berkeley's Timex Social
Club (``Rumors''), producer Jay King's No. 1 remake of
the Bill Withers soul oldie made the song a standard,
served as the template for future hip-hop/soul remakes
and launched the career of Thomas Foster and Denzil
McElroy, the creative brains of Club Nouveau who went on
to become the Svengalis behind En Vogue.
Song: ``Lean on Me'' (1987)
New wave-era Beatles devotees were good enough to draw
Crawdaddy founder Paul Williams out of self-imposed rock-critic
retirement (when he sang their praises in his book ``The
Map''). One of the gems of Howie Klein's locally
influential 415 label.
Song: ``Everywhere That I'm Not'' (1982)
78. RED HOUSE
Like Mark Eitzel's American Music Club, Mark Kozelek's
Red House Painters were a critically acclaimed, singer-songwriter-based
band that never managed to sell enough records to keep
its major label happy. Kozelek continues as a solo artist,
and the Painters' poetic oeuvre has influenced bands as
far- flung as Sweden's Cardigans.
Song: ``Cabezon'' (1995)
background vocalists for Elvin Bishop and born singers.
They were wearing thrift- store chic out of necessity
when San Francisco producer David Rubinson spun them into
gold, long before their chart run of slick hits like ``He's
So Shy'' and ``Slow Hand.''
Song: ``Yes We Can Can'' (1973)
80. SMASH MOUTH
San Jose bar-band veterans latched onto the slap-happy ska-punk sound, then veered into wise-guy
their ``Walkin' on the Sun'' single went huge. Second
major-label album, out in '99 and all over TV commercials
and movie trailers, proves the group has staying power.
Song: ``Walkin' on the Sun'' (1998)
81. IMPERIAL TEEN
Take two seasoned pros from Faith No More and Sister
Double Happiness, blend in two inspired rookies, and the
resulting quartet is an exquisite pop confection with an
acerbic bite. From their first album, ``Seasick,'' ``You're
One'' gave the band its first MTV- aired single.
Song: ``You're One'' (1996)
82. IT'S A
Ethereal hippie rock at its most limpid and
transcendental, It's a Beautiful Day flew on the
Mediterranean sound of David LaFlamme's violin and the
sunny harmonies of LaFlamme and the late Patti Santos.
Management problems made the band lifelong litigants and
relegated the former Fillmore headliner to footnote
Song: ``White Bird'' (1969)
HEROES OF HIPHOPRISY
The Disposable Heroes were the act to see in the early '90s.
The San Francisco duo of Rono Tse and Michael Franti (formerly
of the avant-industrial jazz band the Beatnigs, later of
Spearhead) blended multigenre, multicultural messages and
mad beats into eclectic and wonderful music.
Song: ``Television: The Drug of the Nation'' (1992)
84. COLD BLOOD
Pint-size soul belter Lydia Pense mowed 'em down in front
of her honking hippie soul band from the last days of the
Fillmore. But four albums failed to spread the word.
Song: ``You Got Me Hummin' '' (1969)
85. EDDIE MONEY
An NYPD dropout who came west to sing in rock bands, Ed
Mahoney never lost the common touch. His debut album
launched two Top 10 hits, and the Money man was on his
way. Ah, the luck of the Irish.
Song: ``Two Tickets to Paradise'' (1978)
The Bay Area's answer to the Rolling Stones, the
Watchband suffered from the worst tendencies of mid-'60s
pop production: L.A. session musicians recorded much of
their work. Still, the group left a handful of garage-
rock classics, including ``Let's Talk About Girls.''
Recently reunited for a garage-rock festival in New York.
Song: ``Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love-In)'' (1967)
When onetime Van Morrison sideman Ronnie Montrose hooked
up with an unknown vocalist named Sammy Hagar from a Top
40 band, they made a junior Zeppelin with some real
crunch. Although guitarist Montrose went on to try
commercial hard rock with Gamma in the '80s and made some
serious solo records, nothing he did again ever matched
the impact of those first two albums.
Song: ``Rock Candy'' (1974)
88. 4 NON BLONDES
Linda Perry, the up-front lesbian with ``I Want It All''
tattooed on her knuckles, is the kind of character that
has always made San Francisco what Robin Williams called
``a human game preserve.'' Plus she sings great.
Song: ``What's Up'' (1993)
Self-made millionaire and Sik Wid It label founder E-40 (Earl
Stevens) has been a pivotal influence on the Bay Area rap
scene since he started selling his CDs from the trunk of
his car in 1988. His sexy, slow-inflected drawl and
profound funkability made ``1-Luv'' a radio staple in
Song: ``1-Luv'' (1995)
90. THE CALL
The heroic sound of the Santa Cruz band attracted such
big-name fans as Peter Gabriel, Robbie Robertson and
Garth Hudson of the Band, and U2's Bono -- they all
appeared somewhere on the Call's eight albums. Although
the Call never really rose above the Berkeley Square
level of the provincial Bay Area scene, Michael Been (John
the Baptist in Scorsese's ``Last Temptation of Christ'')
ranks as one of the list's most passionate voices and
spiritually committed songwriters.
Song: ``The Walls Came Down'' (1983)
91. PABLO CRUISE
So popular with the upscale apres-ski crowd, this band
beat out Elvis' attendance record at the Sahara Tahoe.
Song: ``Love Will Find a Way'' (1977)
92. THE UPTONES
Along with Operation Ivy, the Uptones formed the core of
the Berkeley ska-punk scene that paved the way for the
likes of Rancid. A hard-edged, upbeat band that would
have been huge if it hadn't been years ahead of its time.
Song: ``Rude Boy '' (1995)
93. EDWIN HAWKINS
They were the Northern California State Youth Choir when
one of the most left-field hits of all time vaulted the
newly renamed Edwin Hawkins Singers to the top of the pop
Song: ``Oh Happy Day'' (1969)
94. MOTHER EARTH
This band of Texans lived in Berkeley long enough to
record the classic ``Livin' With the Animals,'' where one
showstopper blues alone established the career of Tracy
Nelson, a blues belter easily the equal of Janis Joplin.
Song: ``Down So Low'' (1968)
From 1985 to 1994, Consolidated combined social
activism with hard-edged rap, striking a template that's
made many a band wealthy since. ``Friendly Fascism'' is
the title track off the second, and finest, album.
Song: ``Friendly Fascism'' (1989)
96. THE CHARLATANS
Couldn't play. Couldn't sing. But sure knew how to look
the part. Bingo. The quintessential San Francisco band,
the guys who started it all that long-ago summer of '65.
Song: ``Alabamy Bound'' (1966)
97. NEW RIDERS OF
THE PURPLE SAGE
What started as a project for Jerry Garcia to learn pedal
steel guitar ended up as the longest-running act in
Song: ``Panama Red'' (1973)
Helios Creed and the late Damon Edge created a strange
new world of do-it-yourself aesthetics, brain-frying
guitar and a horrific science-fiction otherworld to rival
William Burroughs' ``Naked Lunch.'' Somehow, they found
the common ground between psychedelic amorphism and
Song: ``Half Machine Lip Moves'' (1979)
``Miracles'' was really the last gasp of the old Airplane,
but by the mid-'80s, a different band with a similar name
was making the exact hollow, empty pop Airplane
originally rebelled against.
Song: ``We Built This City'' (1985)
100. MR. BIG
Big hair. Neither a tribute to the sheer tenacity of lead
vocalist Eric Martin nor guitarist Billy Sheehan's skill
with power tools, but rather to the surefire appeal of a
sickly sweet power ballad.
Song: ``To Be With You'' (1991)