East Bay News

Hayward's Battle of the Bands celebrates 50 years

Friday, February 08, 2013

It's said to be the world's longest running rock band competition. On Saturday night, young musicians will gather in front of 1,500 screaming fans for the 50th annual battle of the bands in Hayward.

12 minutes is all you get to impress the crowd and win the Battle of the Bands.

Claudette Rodrigues and Steve Roberts are competing in the tribute band, Fleetwood Mask. They know judging will be tough.

When asked if they get graded on costumes, Rodrigues answered, "Yeah, they are very particular. The pendant that I have on is a duplicate of what Stevie Nicks actually wears onstage."

Now, they're busy rehearsing their new, shortened songs.

"And if they don't do it in 12 minutes, the curtain goes down," Simonette Mirande said.

Mirande has helped organize the battle for 30 of its 50 years. In 1964, it was the Teenage Battle of the Bands.

"And the best band that wins is gonna play at a dance, a local dance," Mirande said. "And that's how it started."

In the 70s, the Hayward Park District opened it up to all ages. In the 90s they added prizes.

"They get studio time, they get merchandise, and sometimes with the studio time they get a record label," Mirande said.

For those lucky enough to compete, the theater at Chabot College is hallowed ground; a place where bands have gotten their big break, and where rock stars have launched their careers."

And in 1974, Dave Meniketti won the battle with his band 'Yesterday and Today.' And now, Y&T plays to sold out stadiums when they're in Germany.

"And it made it sort of like a thing," Meniketti said. "Like, 'if you wanna make it big, man, you gotta win the Battle of the Bands at Chabot and make it big like Y&T did!'"

But you don't have to win to make it big.

You may never have heard of the 'Agents of Misfortune,' but their bassist went on to play with Metallica, and their drummer with Ozzy Osbourne.

"Some of those second, third place bands are the ones that seem to prosper later," said Hayward Recreation supervisor Noel Munivez.

And they don't often forget the battle. This year, Y&T is back as a special guest to show their support.

"I hope it just keeps going and going and going," Meniketti said. "We need things like this for musicians."

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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hayward, music, competition, celebrity, east bay news, jonathan bloom
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