Monday, October 1, 2012

The Greatest Name in Rock & Roll

The greatest name in the history of rock & roll – and I will brook no disagreement on this – is clearly Randy California of the 1960s-1970s band Spirit, most famed for their hit “I Got a Line on You.” It’s original, euphonious, evocative, distinctive, and unlike the closest competitors in this contest – Tre Cool of Green Day, Lee Ving of Fear, Blackie Onassis of Urge Overkill – you could actually believe for a few seconds, if you didn’t think about it too hard, that Randy California was his real name.  

It’s not just that last name of “California” that is so gorgeous. Let’s face it: Bob California or Eustace California wouldn’t have worked. Randy is a perfect name for a late-1960s American rock star, conjuring up visions of long ringlets and cutoff shorts. And it was so contemporary; none of Bill Haley’s Comets were named “Randy.”

California got the name when he was in Jimi Hendrix’s band the Blue Flame for three months circa 1966. There was another Randy in there as well, and Jimi distinguished them by calling one Randy Texas and the other Randy California. He tells the story starting at 4:22 on this clip, thoughtfully provided to yours truly by Debris Slider Eric Banks:

Randy California died, tragically, in 1995, while trying to save his 12-year-old son from drowning off the coast of Molokai, Hawaii. The boy survived. 

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