Dust-kickin’, plain-plaintive-singin’ rockabilly songstress Rosie Flores lived in San Diego from 1962 to 1978. She apologizes for not making her scheduled gig at Queen Bee’s last year, but she got a counteroffer to play with Chuck Berry at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and said to herself, “Wel-l-l-l, that’s something I probably shouldn’t turn down.” She describes the rock and roll founding father as “really adorable onstage, still.” The first lead lick she ever learned to play, courtesy of her guitar-teaching brother, was that legendary “Johnny B. Goode” lead lick.
Flores was 12 in 1962. She remembers thinking how cool it was “to be living so close to the beach. My parents would take the kids out for rides, and we would go to Torrey Pines, have breakfast or lunch, then we’d go to Balboa Park. The zoo was a phenomenal zoo. We had family in L.A. and before the 5 was ever built, we would take that two-lane road, Highway 1, and ride through Laguna Beach. We felt really fortunate. I remember going to the first Jack in the Box!
“I was a really shy kid. I remember some girlfriends from high school, they saw me [perform] at one of the street fairs in North Park, saying, ‘We can’t believe you’re onstage!’ I wouldn’t talk to anybody. As soon as I got a guitar in my hands, it gave me something to hide behind.”
Her first band that went anywhere was Penelope’s Children, founded in 1968. Her dad signed for the gear, and Flores was elated to have a guitar that looked just like Brian Jones’s. Dad said their payments to him would be $80 a month. So, they worked the Rec Hall in Clairemont, the nearby Marine base, and assorted private parties. They had a garage to practice in, although sometimes they’d get “this really loud knock on the garage door, and when you open it up, you can see the cop’s motorcycle boots.”
She snuck, underage, into the Palace to see Iron Butterfly, with Darryl DeLoach singing and Danny Weis on guitar. She gigged at the Spirit with an early version of the Beat Farmers. She moved to L.A. in 1978 to start over from “ground zero,” but she remembers the formative years. And the motorcycle boots.
For information on Flores and her new record “Working Girl’s Guitar,” visit rosieflores.com.