Famous Musicians from Long Beach

The International City (Long Beach) is internationally known for its port, its sports and its music. In each case, it ranks with global leaders when it comes to producing big numbers and iconic performers. Given that summer in this city is all about music–whether big concerts or neighborhood music series–here’s a brief survey that shows the breadth and variety of musical talent produced by the LBC. Listen up!


Though arguably the first person you thought of when considering Long Beach music, it’s almost too limiting to refer to Snoop as a musician. Oh, he’s clearly one of the most popular and significant hip hop artists ever–this year marks the 30th anniversary of his iconic album “Doggystyle.” Then again, he’s also an actor, media personality, entrepreneur, an industry unto himself. Snoop defines Long Beach for a good portion of the world, single handedly popularizing the term “The LBC.” Snoop is a Long Beach state of mind.


Rivera is the highest-earning banda singer of all time, having sold more than 20 million records. Born and educated in Long Beach, she garnered Grammy nominations, two Oye! Awards (Mexico’s Grammy equivalent), as well as 24 Billboard Music and Latin Music awards. After her tragic death in a plane crash, a park in Long Beach’s Sixth District was renamed Jenni Rivera Memorial Park. It features a 125-foot mural of the singer showcasing her life and love of Long Beach. It was painted by several artists including her son, Trinidad Rivera.


Formed in 1988, the lineup of Bradley Nowell (vocals, guitar), Eric Wilson (bass) and Bud Gaugh (drums), attracted a diverse and loyal following with its unique blend of ska, reggae, punk, surf and hip hop. Much of Sublime’s legacy, of course, is based on its 1996, self-titled album which would eventually go platinum five times over. Simply one of the greatest albums of the rock era–Rolling Stone called it one of the most important albums of the ‘90s–it contained such favorites as “What I Got” “Santeria” and, what many consider the band’s opus, “Doin’ Time.”


Of all the people on this list, Jones has the distinction of essentially creating a genre. You see, long before Al Yankovic–who calls Spike one of his “heroes”–went weird, Spike was making all manner of novelty music, using all manner of pots, pans, guns, whistles and burps. Between 1942 and 1953 that madness produced 18 top 25 hits, including eight songs in the top 10 and a No. 1 single–the Christmas classic, “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.”


Few bands have ever captured the sound and vibe of Southern California better than this Long Beach-based outfit. Formed in 1969, War fuses practically every form of popular music: rock, funk, soul, jazz, Latin and R&B. That produced not just popular but iconic songs such as “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” “Spill the Wine,” “Summer,” and, yes, “Low Rider.” Their album “The World Is a Ghetto” was Billboard’s top selling album of 1973, outselling the likes of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”


One of the greatest opera singers ever produced by the United States, Horne was raised and educated in Long Beach, where she attended Poly High. Horne first garnered attention for dubbing Dorothy Dandridge’s singing voice in the movie Carmen Jones. From there, Horne would go on to near-unprecedented success for which she ultimately received three Grammys–including a Lifetime Achievement Award–the National Medal of the Arts and a Kennedy Center Honor. Opera News declared Horne, “may be the most influential singer in American history.”

About the Author
Steve Lowery