By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
30. Tim Buckley
Buckley may be OC's greatest musical enigma—"Like a star that shines fiercely in the night sky, but in space was extinguished eons ago," Britain's MOJO magazine once said of him. Signed to Elektra Records in 1966—straight out of Anaheim's Loara High School—Buckley worked the same local coffeehouse/club circuit his fellow OC folk-leaning contemporaries Jackson Browne and Steve Noonan did (one L.A. mag even dubbed them, somewhat mockingly, "The Orange County Three"), in rooms like the Golden Bear and the Paradox. Other quick bites from a Zelig-like life (for more, hunt up the two books that have been penned about him): Buckley's voice was a gorgeously angelic tenor. He sang nakedly personal songs about relationships and feelings and war. He dabbled in jazz, psychedelia and funk—in his later years, sometimes in the same song. He never had a "hit" record, but his 1970 album Starsailor is a much-lauded classic. He once bought a house in Laguna Beach and painted it black just to annoy his frou-frou neighbors. He appeared in an unreleased movie with OJ Simpson. Chrissie Hynde interviewed him for an article in NME in 1974. He called guest host Alan King "a piece of cardboard" on the Tonight Show when King made fun of his unruly hair. He was Jeff Buckley's father. And he died way too young, in 1975, after mistakenly snorting a line of heroin. We wish he were still around to better explain himself than we can.
31. Kerry Getz
A sophisticated storyteller, a feeling-filled singer and an underrated guitarist, Kerry Getz is a local, unheralded treasure. Because she has a way of inhabiting a song, of wringing out every nuanced texture and emotion, the Newport Beach resident makes her pain our pain—and there's a lot to go around. Self-doubt, jealousy and obsession make more than cameo appearances in her troubled, darkly-tinged folk/pop/rock musings. Yes, the charming Getz—a veteran of the OC coffeehouse circuit—garnered rave reviews for 1997's breakthrough Apollo and last year's melancholy Little Victory. It's onstage, though, where the Corona del Mar High alum really draws us in, with her confident, affable stage presence. Of course, the Weekly's John Roos knew all this way back in the fall of 1990. That's when he interviewed Kerry at her parents' antique-laced home on Balboa Island for a story in the Orange Coast Daily Pilot. The headline read: "Songstress Kerry Getz Deserves a Wider Audience." And that still rings true.
32. The OC SupertonesDivine intervention. What else could explain the broadening appeal of the OC Supertones, one of the very few Christian rock acts to reach beyond the limiting confines of religious dogma. Sure, the band that formed in Mission Viejo in 1995 has led prayers from onstage and openly shares their religious convictions; but at the same time, the quintet has created a complex, evolving body of work that balances the joys andfrustrations of being a Christian. Epitomizing this spiritual depth is "Sure Shot," a revealing number that struggles hard to reconcile heavenly and carnal desires. Musically, the band—led by charismatic frontman Matt Morginsky—recently expanded from peppy ska to more hard-hitting, guitar-centered rap, rock, reggae, punk and ska. Trust us, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith this ain't. Rejoice, brothers and sisters!
When we heard earlier this year that Barrelhouse was no more, we were dismayed. Honestly saddened. The Huntington Beach quintet was truly one of the few—perhaps only—original soul music acts working the County. Led by deep-voiced, broad-shouldered, sideburn-sporting Harlis Sweetwater, the group played honest-to-goodness, sweaty, soul music, the Stax/Memphis music of Aretha, Otis, and Wicked Wilson. (Sweetwater recently formed a new hard rock/hip-hop band called Thrill Deluxe.) Well, at least Barrelhouse have left behind a trio of groove-and-horn-heavy party albums: 1994's Soul Pimps and Blues Pushers; 1996's Peach; and 1999's 13 Sonic Splendors. One song, though, is truly unforgettable: Not for the squeamish is "Albert's Shovel," a spooky, unsentimental tale of an unrepentant murderer on the loose. Shit, that one still gives us the creeps. RIP, Barrelhouse—you will be mourned.
34. Eddie Cochran
Cochran has been a resident of Orange County for 43 years now, but he's never actually lived here. See, his dwelling for the past four decades has been an unassuming burial plot at Forest Lawn Cypress, Cochran's final resting place after an auto accident during a 1960 tour of England. His family, however, continues to reside in the county, for decades living in a Buena Park home that Cochran purchased based on the success of his signature hit, "Summertime Blues." Though the song is under three minutes and dates back to 1957, "Summertime Blues" still remains one of rockdom's greatest tracks, its rockabilly strut and Cochran's sotto voice a better commentary on youth angst—romantic, political, economic—than almost anything since. If Eddie were still around, think of all the Hootenannys he could've played by now!
35. Agent Orange
One of the most popular bands to emerge during the late '70s/early '80s first wave of OC punk, Agent Orange—formed by a cranky, pissed-off 14-year-old named Mike Palm—sounded distinctly Orange County, as opposed to the mostly slash-and-burn approach perpetrated by their peers Social Distortion and the Adolescents. That's because they injected Dick Dale-inspired surf-guitar breaks and more overt melody lines amidst all the usual thrashiness. In 1981, they released the Living In Darkness album, which included "Bloodstains"—not just a classic OC punk tune, but a classic tune period. The band's largest following, though, came via an army of skateboarders. They were one of the first bands to tap into the then-still-kinda-underground subculture, putting their music on the soundtracks of various skate videos. After all this time, Palm still hasn't gotten a real job, and still tours as Agent Orange with a revolving lineup of players.