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"Why I Came to California" (1982) by Leon Ware

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California is a western coastal state of the United States of America.

Migration to California accelerated during the early 20th century with the completion of major transcontinental highways like Route 66. In the period from 1900 to 1965, the population grew from fewer than one million to become the most populous state in the Union.

Attracted to the mild Mediterranean climate, cheap land, and the state's wide variety of geography, filmmakers established the studio system in Hollywood in the 1920s.



The culture of California is a Western culture and most clearly has its roots in the culture of the United States. As a border and coastal state, however, Californian culture has been greatly influenced by several large immigrant populations, especially those from Latin America and East Asia. California is much an international crossroads as it is a major hub to the character of the US.

California has long been a subject of interest in the public mind and has often been promoted by its boosters as a kind of paradise. In the early 20th Century, fueled by the efforts of state and local boosters, many Americans saw the Golden State as an ideal resort destination, sunny and dry all year round with easy access to the ocean and mountains. In the 1960s, popular music groups such as the Beach Boys promoted the image of Californians as laid-back, tanned beachgoers.

The gold rush of the 1850s is still seen as a symbol of California's economic style, which tends to generate technology, social, entertainment, and economic fads and booms and related busts.


1950s and 60s

Bakersfield Sound

Main article: Bakersfield Sound

In the 1950s and early 1960s, country music was dominated by the slick Nashville sound that stripped the genre of its gritty roots. The town of Bakersfield, California saw the rise of the Bakersfield sound as a reaction against Nashville, led by people like Buck Owens and future star Merle Haggard.

Surf rock

Main article: Surf rock

In the early 1960s, youth in southern California became enamored with surf rock groups, many instrumental, like The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, The Chantays, Royale Monarchs and The Surfaris. Surf rock is said to have been invented by Dick Dale with his 1961 (see 1961 in music) album "Let's Go Trippin'". Surf rock's popularity ended in the mid-1960s with the coming of psychedelic music.

Psychedelic rock

Main article: Psychedelic music

The late 1960s saw San Francisco and Hollywood rise as the center for psychedelic rock and a mecca for hippies. Haight-Ashbury became a countercultural capital, and bands like Jefferson Airplane, Loading Zone, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe and the Fish, Santana, The Charlatans, Big Brother & the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead helped to launch the blues- and folk-rock scene; other bands, like Moby Grape and The Flamin' Groovies used a more country-influenced sound, while Cold Blood incorporated R&B and Orkustra played a sort of freeform psychedelia. Of all these bands, the Grateful Dead were undoubtedly the longest-lasting of all. They continued recording and performing for several decades under the leadership of Jerry Garcia, experimenting with a wide variety of folk, country and bluegrass, and becoming a part of the jam band phenomenon.

Hollywood's Sunset Strip area produced bands like The Byrds, The Doors, Love, Buffalo Springfield, and The Seeds. The Byrds went on to become a major folk-rock act, helping to popularize some of Bob Dylan's compositions and eventually launching the careers of folk-rockers like David Crosby and country-rock fusionist Gram Parsons.

Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, both from Antelope Valley, started their aggressively experimental music careers during the late 1960s.

The band Iron Butterfly is another noted California psychedelic band, coming out of San Diego.

San Francisco psychedelic scene

This era began in about 1965, when The Matrix, the first folk club in San Francisco, opened; Jefferson Airplane, then a newly-formed and unknown band, performed that night. Later that year, a band known as The Warlocks became the Grateful Dead, performing at The Fillmore, which was to become a major musical venue in the area. Jefferson Airplane became the first San Francisco psychedelic band signed to a major label, followed soon after by Sopwith Camel. In 1966, the first acid test was held, and the use of the drug LSD became a more prominent part of psychedelic rock, and music in general. One of the first albums from the scene was Country Joe and the Fish's Electric Music for the Mind and Body (1967). A year later, the band Blue Cheer released Vincebus Eruptum, which launched a national hit with a cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues"; Blue Cheer is now regarded as a progenitor of heavy metal.


Notable authors who were either native to California or who wrote extensively about California include:


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "California" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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