Top 25 Greatest Orange County Bands of All Time: The Complete List


2. No Doubt

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You either love the fact that No Doubt is on this list or you absolutely hate it--a good sign that no matter what they've earned their place here. You'd be hard pressed to find someone in OC who doesn't have an opinion about Anaheim's quirky, ska-nerds-turned-pop-royalty. We at the Weekly have certainly been torn over the legacy of ageless bombshell vocalist Gwen Stefani, bassist Tony Kanal, guitarist Tom Dumont and drummer Adrian Young. We've lauded their success, lamented over the extinction of their brass section and scratched our heads at their stylistic left turns in the studio that paid off with great commercial success. And even though 1995's The Beacon Street Collection and 2012's Push and Shove sound worlds apart, the amount of influence they've had on the pop culture landscape in between those albums is incalculable. The radio success of their landmark album Tragic Kingdom continues to define the explosive strength of our local music scene and is indelibly tied to it, even after the band became rock darlings on a global scale.


1. Social Distortion

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Trying to sum up the relevance of OC punk is a foolhardy venture. To save time, you might as well pull out a piece of paper and sketch out a skeleton with a wide-brimmed hat holding a martini glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other. People will get it. After all, if Orange County music has one iconic, cartoon figure, it's Social Distortion's Skelly logo. And we still can't find a tattooed, greased-up local figurehead quite like Mike Ness. From the first wave of OC punk bands, Social D were initially one of the more ambitious ones, recording several sides of what would become self-defining classics: "The Creeps (I Just Wanna Give You)," "Moral Threat," "1945," "Playpen," and the song (and album) that would've become archetypes no matter what county they were made in.

But when punk got supplanted by bland "new wave" in the early '80s and punk clubs became an endangered species, the Fullerton-based band disappeared and Ness found himself in the clutches of a a horrible smack addiction that lasted for several years. But like any heroic rockstar story, he dug his way out of it, cleaned up, re-formed his band (with his best Troy High School buddy, the late Dennis Danell) and got signed to mega-label Epic. There, he and the band recorded classics that are still standing the test of time: "Story of My Life," "Ball and Chain," "Bad Luck," "I Was Wrong" to name a few.  The current lineup, including Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham, Brent Harding and David Hidalgo Jr. is as strong as it's ever been--though the past roster basically reads like a who's-who of OC punk. One needs only to look at their upcoming string of sold-out shows at the House of Blues in Anaheim to see that neither the band, nor their local fans, have let up in the four decades they've been around. If you're looking for a definitive story of a band who put OC on the map, look no further.


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9 comments
paultourkin
paultourkin

Really? No love for the Crowd-- the original HB punks? Also TSOL (yes, maybe technically Long Beach, but still-- you had Sublime.....) History lessons are in order

WetRock
WetRock

Somehow having two of the biggest sellout bands at the top for a list of all time OC music acts seems appropriate to define the region. Well done.

scorchman
scorchman

Nice list but where are the Shrinky Dinx or Sugar Ray? They pretty much owned the South County for about 4 years in the 90's and went on to sell quite a few more records than a lot of bands listed here.  And what about Agent Orange, they almost go hand in hand with Orange County and the punk scene that started in the 80's there. Just sayin'...

TotalKunt
TotalKunt

Shows what you know about the Orange County music scene... You forgot the band that paved the way for most of the bands you listed, The Mechanics. Dennis Catron, Tim Racca, Sandy Hanson, Brett Alexander, Tim Maag, Michael Dane and Scott Hoogland packed shows all over OC and LA, not to mention being groomed to sign with Capitol Records. They were a major influence of Social Distortion, Mike Palm and Perry Giordano (Agent Orange) and Rikk Agnew (Adolescent's Main Songwriter). They were one of the first bands to play almost all original material. It's sad to think of all the bands that have contributed so much to the Orange County music scene that will never get any credit, at least have the decency to include one of the bands that made the scene possible for most of the bands you included in the list.

peyoteplayers
peyoteplayers

 @scorchman Agent Orange is on the list at number 24. As for Sugar Ray, well...sure maybe. But you'll notice some other big bands that aren't on here...Lit...

STRYPER.

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