California has been the home to many music performers that have come to prominence over the years. With the State having such a widespread array of citizens migrating into the region it has produced many different genres of music, and it is impossible to associate California with one type of music. The influence of Mexico and South America can be heard in a lot of the music that is played. There are many Spanish speaking radio stations in the region playing Mexican folk music and many of the performers took these influences into their music.
Ritchie Valens was a Spanish speaking resident of Los Angeles whose rock and roll career came to prominence with his hit “La Bamba”. He had adapted the song from a Mexican folk song but sadly he died in the same plane crash in 1958 that also claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson. The influence of Mexico could also be heard in the music of “Santana”. Led by front man Carlos Santana who was born in Mexico, the band successfully fused Latin American music and rock. The band were formed in San Francisco in 1966, played at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, and are still playing today.
The music festivals in the late 1960s in the State had a great influence on the music that was being produced in the region. These events gave a great stage for local bands to play as well as giving the audiences opportunities to listen to the music, that was being played globally at the time.
“Jefferson Airplane”, “The Grateful Dead: “The Byrds”, “The Doors” and the “Frank Zappa Band” all appeared at festivals in the late 60s and were seen as being a major part of the psychedelic rock scene. During this time there was also the creation of surf rock which was the groups who were closely related to the beach and the surfing community. This produced artists such as Dick Dale and “Papa Doo Run Run” who performed for 40 years.
However, the group that epitomized this music genre were “The Beach Boys”. Formed in 1961 in Hawthorne California, the extended Wilson family produced hit after hit in the 1960s and 1970s, with 36 of them making the top 40 in the US charts. The group still perform today. “The Eagles”, formed in Los Angeles in 1971, were seen as country rock act. In their career they have sold more than 150 million records world-wide with two of their albums ranking in the US top 20 of the greatest selling albums. As the popularity of heavier rock increased groups such as “Metallica”, ‘Megadeth” and “Motley Crue” started to appear. As musical genre became subtly adjusted still the bands would appear from California. “The Red Hot Chili Peppers” who come from San Francisco, are seen as one of the greatest exponents of alternative rock.
Punk music has a major influence on the music in the State. The early groups included “The Dickies” and “The Adolescents” but perhaps the most famous band to appear was “Green Day”. Formed in 1986 in Berkley, California the group that were heavily influenced by The Clash, went on to sell more than 85 million records across the world. In recent years Hip-Hop has had a huge musical impact in the State. Acts such as Dr Dre, Eazy E and Ice Cube have emerged from inner city areas such as Watts and Compton. The music is associated by Jamaican influences and is particularly popular among the young Black American communities. It has as much to do with current fashion as it does with the music style itself.
The music in California covers a wide area, but the cultural influences of the community has helped to produce some of the greatest selling artists ever.