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  • Type: Solo Performer
  • Hometown: San Diego, CA
  • Active: Unknown - Unknown
  • Number of gigs played: 2
  • Number of other acts played with: 3
Sceneroller, Gary Heffern
Member of

The Penetrators' Gary Heffern

About This Act

Gary Heffern’s early childhood in a Finnish orphanage was well-documented in John Caldwell’s 1957 book Children of Calamity. The youngest of eight abandoned siblings found in a barn, he was adopted and raised by a strict, conservative family in Solana Beach. He has always been an outsider. At the height of the psychedelic era, when his classmates were growing their hair long and participating in protests against the Vietnam War, Heffern’s parents made him keep his hair short and refused to allow him to speak about the events happening overseas. His escape was music, and he says he sought out the “craziest album covers I could find.” When Heffern was in the seventh grade at Earl Warren Junior High School, a confrontation with his parents galvanized in him a view of music as the ultimate form of rebellion. “One day I was going through the medicine cabinet at home and found a bunch of Nembutals that belonged to my mother,” he recalls. “Throughout the day I ended up taking eight of them and passed out at the dinner table. I woke up in the hospital having my stomach pumped by a doctor who also turned out to be my Boy Scout leader. It was then decided that I was no longer allowed to be a scout.” Gary watched in horror as his parents went into his bedroom, collected about 50 of his albums, and shattered them into tiny pieces. They then burned all of the covers and inner sleeves in the fireplace. “The albums I watched burn,” says Heffern, “included the 13th Floor Elevators, the Blues Magoos, the Velvets, Love, the Monkees, the Turtles’ ‘Happy Together,’ the Mothers’ ‘Freakout’ and ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ by the Jefferson Airplane.” In November 1968, at age 13, Heffern snuck out of his bedroom window and hitchhiked to the Hippodrome in downtown San Diego to see the Velvet Underground and the Quicksilver Messenger Service. “At the time you had to be 16 or 18 to get in, so I gave the doorman a joint to let me sneak in,” Heffern remembers. “I got to see the VU booed off the stage. I remember they were wearing suits and Beatle boots and were pissed at the audience.” In March of the following year, Heffern saw Janis Joplin at the San Diego Sports Arena. “I think it was the first time I saw someone really emote in front of a crowd, and it mesmerized me,” he says. “I knew then — that’s who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.” 


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