(Gravedigger Five co-founder John Hanrattie recounts his side of the renowned San Diego garage band’s short but eventful history.)
I was 17 when I first played guitar for an audience. I was working as a roadie for a San Diego band called N/E One. They were a very good cover band that would occasionally write one of their own songs and include it in their set. They built up a loyal following among San Diego teenagers and started playing high-school dances and at a local “under-21″ night club called Headquarters.
They started inviting me on stage to join them in covering the Rolling Stones’ take on Bobby Troup’s “Route “ I was using a six-string Rickenbacker and playing rhythm guitar with Rob Glickman, the lead guitarist. I had been taking classical guitar lessons, but I really wanted to play rock ‘n’ roll. I switched teachers to someone who could teach me Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly licks. It was a long process, and I learned some chords, but my skills were limited.
During my senior year in high school, the ASB started booking bands to play in the quad during Friday lunch. They eventually got around to inviting N/E One to play, and I joined them on stage for their set. Afterward, several people approached me, asking if I wanted to start a band. I was flattered, but I held out, hoping to find people who wanted to play the same kind of music I loved. I refused to have anything to do with playing Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin covers. I wanted to play British Invasion beat and 1960s garage music.