By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
65. James Harman
As a monster harp player, a solid vocalist and songwriter, and as a bandleader par excellence (don't even think about auditioning for his group unless you can seriously play your ass off), James Harman has come to personify the OC blues scene. Expert in any setting from jazzy, rocket-tempo jump to greasy 'n' lowdown grinders, the James Harman Band embody the roadhouse ethic to perfection—just ask such JHB alums as Kid Ramos, Steve Hodges, Junior Watson, Lynwood Slim and Gene Taylor. Harman is sort of like our own personal John Mayall, although he sings and blows much better than Mayall and has the
good taste not to be English. Even his sometimes unpleasant personal eccentricities—Harman has been known to speak in Ebonics and has a temper to make Mike Tyson cower like a bitch—have become something close to endearing over the years. A "Dangerous Gentleman" indeed.
66. MartŪn Sorrondeguy
Former lead singer of Los Crudos, the Chicago quartet that is quite possibly the greatest non-D.C. straight-edge band. Current lead howler for Limpwrist (queer punk gone political, with the glitteriest band shirts ever), who perform much too infrequently. Continued creator of tomes describing in damning detail how the United States has been eyeing Latin America as its personal playground since the times of Monroe. Possessor of a voice that could make the corrugated tin wall separating the U.S. from Mexico in San Diego crumble. And the nicest guy since Moses. Seriously—Sorrondeguy left his punk paradise of Chicago for the complacent streets of OC because of love.
67. Danny Flores
This 20-some-years Westminster resident could easily rest his musical legacy on the wicked saxophone wails he crafted for the boppy instrumental "Tequila" as a member of the Long Beach-based Champs, but no. Flores whined to the world in a February 27, 2000, front-page story in The Orange County Register that he signed off on the royalty rights to "Tequila" while—fittingly enough—drunk during the '60s, which has cost him millions of dollars and a comfortable life. Buried within the story, however, was something more shocking: Flores at the time was living in a two-story home while still owning the international rights to the song, which net him a cool $70,000 a year. Stick to that roaring sax solo of yours, 'mano, and leave the claims of poverty to artists who were truly ripped off.
68. The Measles
If Smile represented Michael Rosas' serious side, then the campy/surfy/silly Measles was his fun one. With bass player Robert Giampa, drummer Chris Fahey and keyboard player Matt Fletcher, Measles shows were Costa Mesa happenings. The band wore matching outfits, and Rosas and Giampa jumped all around the stage in ecstatic rock-dweeb fashion. They even had a theme song. But the Measles, who toured and released The Several Faces of the Man-Shark, weren't really a joke band. Their songs were tight little Nuggets-era barn burners, and the musicianship was above par. As Britney Spears—channeling someone who actually writes songs—recently said, "Writing artsy shit is easy; it's writing pop hits that's difficult." The Measles—who, old members have recently told us, say they're "just friends" with Colin Farrell and deny reports of romantic involvement with Fred Durst—had a knack for writing pop oughta-been hits.
69. Psychic Rain
Upstaging headliners at the Coach House and Galaxy was routine for Psychic Rain during the mid-'90s. Greg Stoddard sang and played guitar with a passionate conviction best likened to Bono and the Alarm's Mike Peters. The band recorded a disc for Warner Bros., and then watched it get shelved. Legal entanglements ensued, but Psychic Rain bounced back in 1999 with the timeless, psychedelia-tinged adult rock disc Spun Out. Other career highlights included a slot on the Mark & Brian Christmas Show on KLOS and tunes on the soundtrack to the Freddie Prinze Jr. flick Down to You, plus various WB TV shows. They were the first band to warm-up the stage at the Grove of Anaheim, back when it was called the Sun. Psychic Rain's creative core (Stoddard and lead guitarist Brian Stewart) have since morphed into Beyond 7.
70. Paul McAdams
Paul McAdams is a pop genius who goes on benders where he locks himself in his basement for days at a time and records multi-tracked layers of pure retro-futuristic pop perfection featuring an array of canned noises and beats that manage, somehow, to sound live and vital. At least, we think he does things this way. He also sometimes works with a band. He's versatile like that. Always present, though, is his sister Lara, who is Karen to his Richard, only without the anorexia. At one time, the duo fronted Antenna Force. Later they performed as Paullara, later as Paul and Lara, and most recently as Friends of Desire. We're not sure, but we're thinking that's a reference to chastity, as opposed to people who give in to desire. Paul and Lara are a blessed needlepoint pillow on the cum-stained '70s porn couch of life.
Besides Relish and three-quarters of the Angoras, 4-Gazm were Orange County's greatest all-girl band. Formed in 1993, the Huntington Beach quintet—vocalist Pamela Stocks, guitarists Lisa Parker and Sarah Lee, bassist Jen Johnson and drummer Lisa Beccera—combined a suburban feminist outlook with punk rock and balls-out attitude. The band pushed their demo on local mom-and-pop record shops for a few years before going into the studio in 1998 to record their first and only album, Here Kitty, Kitty, which was co-produced by Mitch Townsend (late of Red 5 and the Killingtons). The highlight of the band's career came when Johnson found a booking agent in London who sent the band on a five-week tour of Europe. Social Distortion bassist John Mauer joined the band on guitar in 1999 after Lee quit. When the band broke up in 2000, Stocks got married and moved to New Orleans, Johnson and Lee put their efforts into their side band F-Minus, Parker became the front woman for Foxy (another great band) and Beccera now works as a graphic artist.