|I was 15 when I first stepped into Straita Head Sound. This club was unique in that it had obtained its liquor license as a dinner theater and, therefore, was able to serve alcohol to the 21 and up crowd yet still allow those under 18 to get in. All they had to do was serve food to meet the legal requirements of "dinner theater". This loophole in the law kept the club profitable and allowed many of my age to see their first live rock show. While being banned from the stadium shows of Motley Crue, Def Leppard and Iron Maiden by overly cautious parents, seeing a "little local band" was considered mostly harmless and grudgingly permitted. How wrong they were. The bands that played Straita Head Sound were neither little nor harmless. This was rock 'n' roll placed directly in your face; something that massive stadium shows could never come close to achieving.
My first concert was local headlining band, Assassin. It was amazing. After the concert, my ears rang for hours. I was hooked. Straita Head Sound immediately became my home away from home. I was at the shows every weekend and eventually "worked" there. Because we were talented, eager and worked for free, club manager Gary Stauffer gave open access to my best friend, Mark Butler, and I. Together, we ran lights and sound for almost every show at Straita Head for close to two years. It was heaven. In addition, I took over promotional duties and ran the fan club for Assassin, who gained exposure by opening for bands like Alcatrazz, Grim Reaper, Precious Metal and Poison.
Straita Head Sound was a heady mix of high school girls and over 21 drinkers, of teenage boys and college girls. Bands came and went from the Straita Head Sound marquee. Mickey Rat played there often before moving to Los Angeles and becoming Ratt. The club also hosted dates for national tours playing San Diego. One of my favorite Straita Head moments was running lights for Riot as they did "Swords & Tequila". But the heart and soul of the club were the local bands. These guys lived in the area and played for their fans every weekend. The rock scene in San Diego didn't get much attention or support outside of our own community. In the eyes of the music industry, if you weren't from L.A. you weren't serious about your music. This was hardly true. Some bands or their members did leave San Diego for the scene in Los Angeles. Many more kept the faith at home and were ignored by record labels and the press.
Straita Head Sound fell on hard times in 1987, reinventing itself as a legitimate dinner theatre and after that, a weekend dance club. The venue never regained its former glory and eventually closed forever. The building was torn down around the same time that Nirvana heralded the demise of 80's rock. The site where the club once stood now has an office building. A tragic corporate fate that more than a few musicians fell prey to as local rock hero status gave way to normal life in 90's.
Were you there? Have anything cool? Please email me.