Sign up for the weekly CityBeat eNewsletter

They fought the law

Rock star run-ins with San Diego police

by Scoop Stevens

As far as rock stars go, there is probably no local resident that has had as many metaphorical skirmishes with Johnny Law as recent Coronado transplant Scott Weiland. Perhaps he was taking a lesson from former Clairemont denizen Jim Morrison, also known for aggravating authorities, but the Stone Temple Pilots frontman is not the only one to get acquainted with the men and women in uniform while in San Diego.

Initially, rock 'n' roll wasn't exactly embraced by our conservative city. "If he puts on the same kind of show that he did last April, I'll arrest him for disorderly conduct," former Police Chief Adam Elmer Jansen was quoted as saying about Elvis Presley in the Sept. 12, 1956 edition of the Union-Tribune. "I've had enough complaints from parents to assure me that twerp is not doing the kids any good," he added. With arrests for lewdness in the audience and an incident with naked women running amok in the halls of the El Cortez Hotel, Elvis really did have San Diego all shook up. The King was banned by the city's Social Services Department that year, but it didn't hold.

Movie producer Oliver Stone was arrested at the Mexican border in 1969, reportedly a mere 10 days after returning from his military tour of duty in Vietnam. Stone was allegedly caught with two ounces of marijuana, but was never prosecuted because of a backlog of cases at the time. Regardless, he sat in a local cell for two weeks before the case was dismissed.

Famed ex-Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash mainstay Stephen Stills made worldwide headlines on Aug. 14, 1970 when he was arrested at a motel in La Jolla, allegedly in an incoherent state. The May 27, 1971 issue of Rolling Stone reported that Stills' coke bust was originally charged as "possession of dangerous drugs," but was reduced to a misdemeanor. He would eventually be slapped with a $1,000 fine and placed on probation.

We've covered Brian Wilson's arrest for vagrancy in Balboa Park in 1972 extensively in the past, but less well known is that on July 1, 1980, Bob Wier and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead—as well as manager Danny Rifken—were arrested at the Sports Arena. Allegedly the trio incited a riot when they got involved in a fracas surrounding a drug bust at the concert.

More recently, on the opening night of his "Up In Smoke" tour (June 16, 2001), Snoop Dogg ran into trouble trying to get the hell outta Dodge. Snoop's tour bus was stopped at the checkpoint near Temecula when an officer thought he smelled marijuana. Surprisingly (note sarcasm), 300 grams of chronic was discovered upon the subsequent search. A member of Snoop's entourage claimed the herb was his; he was cited for misdemeanor possession and released.

We're only touching the surface here, but either way, if history shows us one thing, it's that this list is only bound to get longer.


With the advent of free downloading, artists are forced to come up with creative ways to make a living. Local singer-songwriters Dave Howard and Eve Selis have hit on a novel idea—"direct patronage." Howard—an accomplished solo artist and the man behind albums by A.J. Croce and Gregory Page—admits the idea may not be new, but it does work. Fans who donate $10 or more will automatically receive a copy of Howard's upcoming CD, tentatively titled Into the Wind, which will feature a wealth of local luminaries, including Jeff Berkley and Peter Bolland.

Anyone donating $100 gets three copies of the album, plus a personal thank you in the liner notes (you know you always wanted a shout-out in the liner notes). Should anyone be able to kick in $500, they'll get five discs, the thank you and "an executive producer gift," to be handed out at the CD-release party. It may sound like overly ambitious music-as-marketing, but this is an idea whose time may have come, letting music fans truly support the acts they like. Go to www.hiddenagendamu and click on the "New CD Project" link for details.

Selis financed her last CD, Do You Know Me, using a similar technique. In addition to donations, some fans actually invested money and were paid back with interest over a one-year period. She just finished production of her new video this way and plans on doing three fundraisers to pay her investors back. The first one took place on July 20 at the Ramsden-Morrison Gallery downtown where she raised more than $4,000. Pay attention, indie artists—this could be the wave of the future.

There are gimmicks and then there are gimmicks. Although the premise might sound like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch, tribute band fans should flock to 'Cane's this Saturday for an ear-blasting, three-band bill of all-female hard rockers. On hand will be The Iron Maidens, an estrogenic homage to Iron Maiden, AC/DSHE and Mistress of Reality, who specialize in Ozzy-era Black Sabbath. $10. 9 p.m. 21-and-up. 858-488-1780.

Speaking of cover bands, pop fans should be sure to check out the wonderfully named Hot Monkey Love Cafe on Monday nights. Beginning at 7 p.m., the club offers up the Baja Bugs, who perform two sets of early Beatles classics, followed by a night of amateur comedy. It's an unorthodox double bill, but certifiably fun. Some of the musicians might look familiar: the Baja Bugs includes Xavier Anaya of '80s R&B; faves The Trebles and bassist Hector Penalosa of '70s punk legends The Zeros. Who knows where today's favorite indie musicians will end up performing in 20 years? $3. 7 p.m. All-ages. 619-582-5908.

San Diego isn't exactly a hotbed of jazz, but that doesn't mean there aren't great shows every month. Case in point is a special tribute show for local saxophone great Gary LeFebvre being held at downtown nightspot Dizzy's this Saturday. LeFebvre has recorded with such luminaries as Shorty Rogers, Stan Kenton and Shelly Manne and has been an integral part of San Diego's jazz scene for years, pitching in as an unsung hero on numerous live projects. Performing at the event will be the ubiquitous Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet, Gerald Clayton on piano, Rob Thorsen on bass, Kevin Kanner on drums and surprise guests, with Lefebvre himself scheduled to make an appearance. $12. 8:30 p.m. All-ages. 858-270-7467.

Fans of traditional Irish music should be sure to check out one of San Diego's best-kept secrets, Skelpin. Featuring powerhouse fiddle player Patric Petrie, the quintet has recently begun to attract international attention. They have an East Coast tour planned for this fall, and have just released their debut CD, Whiskey Before Breakfast, the title of which gives you some idea of the band's m.o.

Skelpin has been packing them in for the last year on Wednesday nights at downtown's Dublin Square, with an 8:30 p.m. show. Effective immediately, the club has added the band on Saturdays starting at 7 p.m. It's just about the most fun you can have for the price of a beer.

© 2007 Southland Publishing, All Rights Reserved