(In a Che Underground exclusive, Ray Brandes offers the first comprehensive history of San Diego’s original retro-visionaries.)
The Crawdaddys have been called one of the most influential bands ever to come out of San Diego. When one looks at the groups its members have spawned, as well as the recurring popularity of ‘60s-style punk and rhythm and blues over the past 30 years, it’s hard to dispute that assertion. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of music history, an uncompromising commitment to artistic integrity, and a roster of musicians with unparalleled talents and distinct individual styles, the Crawdaddys single-handedly gave birth to the revival of garage music in the late 1970s in the United States. The reverberations of the first few chords they played are still being felt today. The Crawdaddys’ story begins and ends with lifelong Beatles fanatic Ron Silva, who grew up on Del Monte Avenue in Point Loma. He and his neighbor Steve Potterf started listening to records together in the ninth grade, and while Silva would barely tolerate Potterf’s love for Kiss, Aerosmith, Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin, he gradually convinced his friend to appreciate his own tastes. “After a while Steve started getting into the music I liked — Beatles, early Stones. I remember sitting in his room playing guitars along to my dad’s Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley 45s,” says Silva. Throughout high school, Silva, Potterf and Ron’s brother Russell spent many hours playing rock and roll in the Silva family garage, and it was during this period that Ron began his obsession with historical accuracy in clothing, shoes and hair, and in justifying what was considered cool as evidenced by a photograph in an album cover, an old magazine or book. He scoured his favorite albums for details, looking in thrift stores for similar clothing and traveling to Tijuana to purchase pointy-toed boots. He also developed a reputation as a bit of an oddball in high school for wearing Beatle suits and speaking in a Liverpudlian accent.