Paisley Underground

From Academic Kids

Paisley Underground is a term used to describe a genre of rock music, based primarily in Los Angeles, California, which was at its most popular in the mid-1980s. (The coinage -- a joke that stuck -- is usually ascribed to Michael Quercio of the band The Three O'Clock.)

Paisley Underground bands incorporated psychedelia, rich vocal harmonies and guitar interplay in a folk rock style that owed a particular debt to The Byrds, but more generally referenced the whole range of 1960s West Coast pop and garage rock, from the Seeds to the Beach Boys. (The Dream Syndicate channeled Crazy Horse and Creedence Clearwater Revival -- via The Velvet Underground -- while The Bangles recalled The Mamas and The Papas, Green on Red came on as a cousin to The Doors, The Long Ryders honored Gram Parsons and the Buffalo Springfield, and so on.) The 1970s Memphis cult band Big Star, whose "September Gurls" became a hit for The Bangles, was also influential, as were Britain's Soft Boys. Although there were accomplished musicians among them, it was also rooted -- as was the punk rock that preceded it -- in an inspired amateurism.

Paisley Underground bands frequently shared bills, socialized and collaborated. Members of Rain Parade, the Bangles, the Dream Syndicate and the Three O'Clock joined together to make Rainy Day, an album of cover versions of songs by the Velvet Underground, Buffalo Springfield Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, Big Star, Jimi Hendrix and The Who. As "Danny and Dusty," Steve Wynn of the Dream Syndicate and Dan Stuart of Green on Red made the album The Lost Weekend (A&M, 1985) backed by members of each band along with most of The Long Ryders.

By far the most popular band to emerge from the movement was The Bangles, who have had massive mainstream success, although each of the best known groups released at least one album on a major label.

Penny Feathers on La Cienega Boulevard was a popular meeting point for paisley people.

By the end of the 1980s the movement had passed from public consciousness. However, later acts Mercury Rev and Grandaddy have acknowledged its influence.

The wider movement of which it is a part is named jangle pop after the ringing, light guitar sounds it often features. It was paralleled in other parts of the world by genres such as New Zealand's Dunedin Sound, whose chief exponents (such as The Chills and Sneaky Feelings) were often cited as directly comparable to Paisley Underground bands.

Notable paisley underground bands

Southern California venues where bands played

  • Cathay de Grande in Hollywood
  • Radio City in Anaheim
  • Circle City at the Orange Traffic Circle
  • The Palace in Hollywood
  • The Cookoo's Nest Newport Beach
  • The Bullet at The Lhasa Club - Hollywood /Studio City

External link

Tell Me When It's Over: The Paisley Underground Reconsidered (, by John L. Micek


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