A History of Arizona's Local Music Scene From 1979-2000
Minder Binders Mason Jar
Long Wongs Tempe
Madison Square Gardens
A look back at some of the bands that made up the local scene from the late 70's to the early 2000's in an effort to preserve their history. In no way is this list comprehensive. I have gathered links to assist anyone who'd like more info on the Arizona Music Scene. I'm sure I've forgotten many bands, if you'd like to see someone included send along the info!
Any bands or record labels that have issue with anything I've posted, please let me know and I will gladly remove it.
Anyone who would like to contribute info, records, mp3's, fliers, etc, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bands and People:
Algebra Ranch- A short-lived project of former members of The Psalms and Jetzons
Alison's Halo- MP3's Early 90's pop
Best Kissers In The World mp3's Originally from Arizona before moving to Washington State
Box Of Cherries - Glenn De Jongh's hook-filled pop band
Brainz (mp3's) late 70's punk band, 3 members went on to form Mighty Sphincter
Brian Page & The Next mp3 Mid 80's rockers and National Star Search Winners
Brian Smith- Leader of The Beat Angels and formerly The Pills and Gentlemen Afterdark most notably.
Bruce Connole- groups include: Billy Clone & The Same, Jetzons, The Strand, The Revenants, Suicide Kings
Burning Bush (mp3's) -female punk/pop trio, in the vein of Minutemen/Red Hot Chili Peppers
Cartwheels-mp3 Alter ego of The Zen Lunatics with a twangier sound, released one CD "Dang!"
Catch 22 VIDEO
Cheddars (mp3's)- Short-lived band included Wade Brandimore, formerly of Festive Death
Conflict (mp3) - Punk Rock
Consumers (mp3's) Late 70's Punk Rock
Cosmo Topper (mp3) Arizona Band From 1980, COSMO TOPPER, Members: Jim Lundsford, Rick Unger, Pete Doakley, Paul Fulbright, Ramon Dominguez.
Damon Doiron- groups included: Billy Clone & The Same, Jetzons, Algebra Ranch, Mortal Engines, The Strand, Spinning Jenny (The Jennys) among others
David James - long time Valley musician and former host of Arizon Showcase on Cox Cable
The Dog & Pony Show mp3's Though they were only around for about a year or two, the Dog and Pony Show handily brought a new buzz to the Tucson music scene, and sparked a rebirth in what some refer to as "desert rock" with their slightly country infused nineties alt-rock. Their only release, Ashtrays and Afterlife Money, was well recieved by critics, and band members were clearly hoping to do more, but things just seemed to peter out. Went on to form Creosote and the Friends of Dean Martinez. (from the Club Congress site)
Doug Hopkins - Lost Horizons , the definitive Doug Hopkins site New Times Article Doug's death His Page Wrote many of the songs for The Gin Blossoms, other groups included: Moral Majority, The Psalms, Ten O'Clock Scholars, Algebra Ranch and The Eventuals
The Eccentrics - Punk/New Wave group from the early 80's included members Randy Bush, Rich Contadino and Derek Shellhorn, played with Gentlemen Afterdark, The Jetzons, etc.
The Eventuals- Doug Hopkins band post Gin Blossoms
Feedbags- featured Jim Swafford and Scotty Johnson
Franco Gagliano - influential owner of The Mason Jar, which hosted many bands over the years
Gentlemen Afterdark (mp3) Extremely popular, featuring Brian Smith of the Pills who later moved on to form The Beat Angels. 4 Song record produced by Alice Cooper.
Half String Early to mid 90's group featuring Kimber Lanning on Drums
Hellfire - Psychobilly/Punk group featuring Kevin Daly (Grant & The Geezers, Flathead)
Jacket Weather - Outstanding Keyboard driven New Wave group from Tucson featuring Tim Gassen and also included Lee Joseph from Yard Trauma and Jonny Sevin. Releasing Re-issue of all material - info available here
Jeff Dahl Group -mp3's Legendary Punk rocker Jeff Dahl, who has played in Angry Samoans, Powertrip and Vox Pop, an extremely prolific career with countless records released, still going strong, his lates solo record (his 21st!) available here
Jennys (Spinning Jenny) (mp3's) featuring Damon Doiron, their first CD "Pinata Full Of Bees" produced by Tom Pettijohn as Spinning Jenny before having to change their name to simply The Jennys. Scott Hessel, their drummer, went on to be in The Stumbles, Gloritone and Big Moxie.
New Times< xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" prefix="o" namespace="">
Published: February 19, 1992
SPINNING < xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" prefix="st1" namespace="">JENNY 17th Street
The latest in what seems like a quarterly issue of Spinning Jenny tapes finds the Tempe guitar band stretching its scope with added edge.
Indeed, 17th Street continues the Jenny's push from the comfortable charm of old Beatlemania bits toward a more strident sound, best reflected in the ragged efforts of new lead guitarist Freddy Gildersleeve.
The rougher treatment helps make older, more established Spinning Jenny songs sound urgent. The travelogue tragedy of "Fastest Car in Town," for example, now seems to make more sense, while "Back in the Light," the band's best song, adds depth to its skinny-tie power-pop.
But the Jenny's tough-guy approach costs the band a little something, too. The cool guitar touches on the chorus of "Back in the Light" are downplayed too much on the cassette, and the band's secret weapon, the back-up croon of bassist Damon Doiron (formerly of the Jetzons and the Strand), is hardly heard behind singer-guitarist Stephen Easterling's lead vocals.
Even so, Easterling is clearly one of the better pop songwriters in the Valley, and 17th Street confirms Spinning Jenny's position as one of Tempe's better bands. For proof, check out the title cut, which literally brims with a communal come-on to suburban Tempe. It's a good song with an inviting feel, and a perfect example of people not having to be told that a music "scene" grows best when it's pushed least.
Jim Swafford - involved in many Arizona Bands including Ten O'Clock Scholars, The Psalms, The Feedbags and co-wrote the Gin Blossoms "Mrs. Rita"
John Dixon (Johnny D.) Local radio legend
Jonathan L Local radio legend
Junior Achievement (mp3) - Arizona Punk Rock
Jr CHemists mp3's
KEYX FM Alternative radio Station in the 90's Read about it's origins
Kongo Shock Mid 90's Ska band
Les Payne (Lush Budget Presents The Les Payne Product, Les Payne Project)
Live Nudes - A Zubia Brothers band that included Doug Hopkins, when Hopkins left, they changed their name to The Pistoleros
Loosely Tight-(mp3's) A Phoenix, Arizona Hard Rock Group, still in existence!
Luke Skood - mp3's
Major Figures - mid 80's pop band VIDEO
Manic N (with Mp3's!) local new wave band and 1985 Soundboard magazine's "Hottest New Band 1985" , opened for The Jetzons and Killer Pussy.
MC Brennan mp3's Phoenix area Singer, Song Writer, performer and writer. Brennan's dad was famed Arizona rock musician Ron Dobbins best friends and frequent collaborator with Mike Condello.
Middletown - An early project from future Stumbles and Big Moxie, these guys played my 30th birthday party opening for the Chimeras and I fondly recall singing a cover of The Call's "The Walls Came Down" with them in 1994.
Mondo Guano Tucson Desert Rock
Monitor mp3 Art Punk, The Meat Puppets performed on their 1981 LP
Moral Majority - Doug Hopkins and Bill Leen's first band
Nova Boys (coming soon)
Nowhere Dreamer mp3's 1993 Band Of The Year Phoenix Hard Rock
One Foot In The Grave- Oldest punk Rockers in the world, from Sun City, AZ
Paul Murphy - mp3's
Pedestrians Tucson Punk Rockers from the late 70's, members went on to Green On Red and Giant Sandworms (Giant Sand)
from Club Congress web site: The Pills/Gentlemen Afterdark
Fronted by singer Brian Smith, the Pills capitalized on the glam-punk look and sound, moved to Phoenix in 1983, changed their name to Gentlemen Afterdark and released an EP produced by Alice Cooper. Members of the band are still familiar to fans of Tucson music... guitarist Robin Johnson later went on to play in the Sidewinders, Sand Rubies, and Maryanne, and currently plays guitar with desert rockers Greyhound Soul. Drummer Winston Watson would move on to Giant Sand before becoming Bob Dylan's touring and session drummer from 1992 through 1996. Watson continues to be an in-demand session musician, but has also graced the stage with many local bands including Greyhound Soul. The Pills frontman Brian Smith later went on to form the Phoenix-area band The Beat Angels in the mid-90's, which continues to recycle elements of punk, glam, and pop in their raucous performances.
— Don Jennings
Poppin' Wheelies- mp3 Gin Blossoms, Low Watts connection
Psalms - 1983 band featuring Doug Hopkins, Bill Leen and Jim Swafford, they released a 45 "A Story I Was Told" b/w "Christmas Island" and a cassette only release "No Great Cathedral"
Radio Architecture - mp3's
Red Squares (mp3's) Early 80s' punk Modern Roll 7" and Modern Roll LP
Revenants Bruce Connole's latest group
Rip & Tear- metal band from the 80's VIDEO
Ron Walker (mp3's) - Blue Diamond Man was a limited edition debut, cassette only release, that showed the promise for future groups Middletown and The Stumbles. This cassette featured Ron with lead vocals, background vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards with help from Kerry Jackson and Ron's brother Darryl sharing vocals and writing credits on "Echoes Of Laughter". Ron wrote and produced it as well.
Published: February 19, 1992
RON WALKER Blue Diamond Man
"Solid" and "shiny" are the words here.
Glendale rocker Ron Walker likes to do things his way. On Blue Diamond Man, he sings everything and takes all the writing credits-save for the tape's single ballad, the sad but pleasant "Echoes of Laughter." Walker also takes the lion's share of the string and keyboard work here and lets no one sit behind the drum kit but himself. His one-man-band approach is rock-sturdy. From the Beatlesque, shake-it-up-baby "Stay Out of the Rain," to the Romantics-flavored, drum-heavy fun of "U Don't Know," Walker has permitted these musical influences to be no more than just that.
On the funkified-and most lyrically polished-song "Don't Take My Advice," Walker's fine, rangy voice shows its brightness and versatility. Overall, Blue Diamond Man is a steady-at times downright flashy-howdy-do by a musician who should be around for a spell.
Satellite Stephen Ashbrook's band
Scotty Johnson- Guitarist for The Gin Blossoms , Feedbags, Low Watts and The Peacemakers
Serene Dominic (with mp3's) legendary figure in the Arizona music scene as a musician and writer
Shadow Talk mp3 Late 80's New Wave
Sixthyearsenior mp3 - Punk Rock
Soylent Green mp3's Early 80's Phoenix Skate Punks (Thanks to former drummer Neil for the mp3's!). Neil played in Soylent Green, The Nova Boys and an early incarnation of Jagged Rocks On the Perimeter.
Spiffs mp3- Guitar pop band from the early 80's. Glenn De Jongh went on to perform with many bands, most notably Bob Welch. Released this 5 song 7" called "Don't Waste Your Money On This Garbage"
Sticky Thang - high energy punk rockers from the early 90's with former memebers of Nova Boys
Squares Tempe power pop in the 80's featuring Scotty Johnson, later of The Gin Blossoms
Stickmen- I saw these guys a few times, amazing!!!! I know they recorded a CD at Salt Mine then moved to New York and I never heard of them again. As far as I know, the CD was never released. Very Talking Heads-ish. Unfortunate they disappeared.
The Strand- Another Bruce Connole and Damon Doiron group, released one cassette in 1987
Street Pajama (mp3) 80's New Wave Group
Stumbles-(mp3's) Out of the ashes of Middletown, one of my all-time favorite local acts that could have (should have) been huge. Fronted by master musician Ron Walker, who traded vocals with Mark Moffatt, they produced 2 self-released CD's, their debut was self-titled and their 2nd cd mocked the K-Tel releases of the 70's and was titled-Best Of Greatest Hits Volume 7. Scott Hessell, who was in The Refreshments and later Gloritone joined on drums in the later stages and Moffatt and crew went on to form Big Moxie.
Desert Discs - The Stumbles< xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" prefix="o" namespace="">
Continued from page 2
Published: November 30, 1995
After Jefferson Airplane, but before < xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" prefix="st1" namespace="">Styx, "eclectic" became a dirty word in rock. An "eclectic" young band is one that hasn't figured out what it wants to be when it grows up, while an "eclectic" older group means even the drummer thinks he can sing (and, worse, write). The Stumbles fall somewhere in between. The band boasts two strong front men/guitarists, Ron Walker and Mark Moffatt--and Walker plays all the drums on this CD.
Any group that runs as wide a spectrum of styles in a 40-minute live set as the Stumbles can is eclectic in the best sense of the word. This band can harness the power of Sugar or Live and tack on highly polished block harmonies worthy of the Plimsouls or the Rembrandts, as demonstrated here on "SSS Man" and "Undertow."
"And She" is a whisper-to-scream pop gem that starts out with chiming acoustic 12strings like The La's "There She Goes," before launching into a nasally Bob Mouldish chorus. When he sings this song live, the large-framed Moffatt resembles Ed Wood's beloved wrestler/actor, Tor Johnson, at his eye-bulging best. In the recorded version of "And She," Moffatt states that his beloved "gets on my face." Live, however, I could swear he sings "sits." In any case, "And She" is a killer song, and the band has more where that came from: The number of new tunes the Stumbles are currently playing out indicates the band didn't succumb to debut fever and shoot their wad on one album. Good thing. A recording this good deserves a quality follow-up. --Serene Dominic
Suicide Kings - Another Bruce Connole project
Teds (mp3) Local threesome, one member went on to be in Mighty Sphincter and was half-owner of Placebo Records. Only 500 records pressed of this 7"
Ten O'Clock Scholars- Doug Hopkins, Bill Leen, Jim Swafford, David McKay and Randy Sanders around 1986 and just prior to The Gin Blossoms
Undertow- A near miss Goth/Pop group (late 80's, early 90's), nearly had a deal with Sire Records included Allan Ross Wiley, Mark Lauer, Robin Johnson (Gentlemen Afterdark) and Harry McCaleb. Later incarnation included Rich Contindino (Jagged Rocks), Mark Cady and Jerry Stevens and the departure of Johnson and Wiley. Lauer went on to form Crushed.
The Van Buren Wheels mp3's "a '60s-style Vox-organ-grinding R&B outfit"
Victory Acres (mp3) - Meat Puppets side project
Zen Lunatics New Times Article Another New Times Article-mp3 pop rock band formed in the early 1990s. Originators of what became know as the Moon Valley Sound , Terry Garvin (vocals/guitar), Chris Hansen Orf (vocals/guitar), Ric Napoli (drums) and Gilbert Padilla (bass guitar/vocals), all from Phoenix, combine classic pop rock sensibilities in the vein of The Beatles, The Who. Previously Fourth Generation Rain. Their country-tinged alter ego is The Cartwheels and also members of Dead Brains.
Zubia Brothers- bands include The Chimeras and Pistoleros
More Tucson bands (Courtesy of Bill Cuevas - Conflict/Broken Horse):
Sex Snax (1988, all-girl with Tasha on guitar)
The Black Supersuckers (dropped the "Black" and moved to Seattle, ca. 1988)
Pollo Elastico (Pete Holmes' band, 1987)
Bebe and Serge
The Pork Torta
Zero Tolerance Task Force
ESS (1982, Lee Joseph/Joe Dodge/Lance Kaufman throbbing gristle
experimental trio post Jonny Sevin-Pre-Yard Trauma)
Broken Horse (band I've been in for almost 20 years now, post
Conflict, we moved to SF in 92' but played out a ton from 88 til then)
Knights of Fuzz DVD - killer DVD featuring a ton of cool Garage Rock bands put together by the multi-talented Timothy Gassen
Looking for info, mp3's, photos etc. of:
The Out! Crowd Mental Pictures Undertow The Trend
The Feedbags The Strand Method U Nova Boys
The Photos Victory Acres The Squares Mortal Engines
GetOutAZ's Top 25 Local Albums All Time (Listen!)
Early 80's Phoenix Punk Scene Pictures (Some really cool Meat Puppets photos!)
Some Great Websites: