4 Influential Artists and Bands from San Diego

5 Influential Artists and Bands from San DiegoSan Diego is a city full of art and creativity. Music is no exception, and dozens if not hundreds of bands and musical artists have found their start in Southern California, in nearly every genre. Here are just a few of those artists and bands from San Diego and a look into how they rose to fame.


In the late ’90s, few musical names were quite so well-known as alternative rock band Blink-182. Bassist and lead vocalist Mark Hoppus worked at a record store to help pay his way through school, and eventually connected with Tom DeLonge, the co-founder of the band. They spent many hours jamming and bouncing lyrics back and forth, soon joined in this by drummer Scott Raynor.

The band rose to fame in Southern California, which wasn’t exactly a musical hotbed at the time, but San Diego had a substantial punk-rock scene through the local surfer/skater population, and many bands from San Diego have come to reflect that. Blink-182 played at gigs throughout the city, both solo and opening for larger bands, until they found themselves signed by Cargo Records, the largest independent recording company at the time.

Jason Mraz

Born in 1977, Jason Mraz grew up in the most idyllic of American towns in rural Virginia. He was a fan of Dave Matthews Band and other grassroots bands, but it wasn’t until participating in musical theater that he really got into playing music and performing. As soon as he graduated high school, he made his way to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. He dropped out after a year, but his training as a vocalist is clear in the vocal range and clarity of his first album.

Jason Mraz really broke through into the musical scene in San Diego, finding his niche in the same coffeehouse scene that first supported singers like Jewel. Through those coffeehouses, he began his rise to fame as one of the many artists and bands from San Diego to reach their dreams.


One of the most popular bands from San Diego is Switchfoot. Though they market themselves as a Christian band, their songs appeal to everyone. One thing that sets them apart is the way they employ a much wider range of instruments than your typical rock band, including cellos, trumpets, violins, mandolins, flutes, and even sitars.

Switchfoot only had to play a few shows before they signed with Re:think Records. Three records later, they went platinum, and a number of their songs were featured in the movie A Walk To Remember. After that movie, they wound up signing with Columbia Records, a big name in the business.


Reigning as one of the many well-known bands from San Diego, Deftones took the alternative rock scene by storm. Co-founder and lead guitarist Stephen Carpenter taught himself the traditional six-string guitar while he was laid up in a wheelchair after being hit by a car, and though it was slow-going without any sort of lessons or instruction to guide him, he went on to help create a band that has churned out five albums thus far. Abe Cunningham, Deftones’ drummer, also took guitar lessons on the side. The two of them joined forces with three of their old high school friends, first just in jam sessions, then playing small gigs and opening for bands like Korn.

At one particular show, the gig was almost over and the crowd had dispersed, yet Deftones managed to impress a representative from Maverick Records. Their debut album released in 1994.

If there’s one thing you can learn from these and the dozens of other bands from San Diego, it’s that nothing works quite like elbow-grease and practice to help you make it big. Private music lessons are a great first step, and can open you up to a whole world of musical possibilities you never quite imagined were possible. So practice hard and keep your eye on the goal, and maybe one day the world will see your name in lights!

Photo by innovati


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