Here are excerpts from selected stories that will also appear in the special program for our Valentine's Day event.  Enjoy!


My musical memories at San Diego State evoke so many emotions ....... romance, dancing, singing, zest for life!  From sitting in a large circle on the floor in my dorm, passing a candle while singing "Tell Me Why" and waiting in anticipation for someone to blow out the candle to announce their pinning or engagement ...... to singing "The Messiah" and "What is Man" in College Chorus ...... to attending the fabulous concerts including Harry Belafonte, Ray Charles, and The Doors among others!   I believe the one that most touched me, however, was the singing group "Up With People", whose songs were so positive and inspirational!

Submitted by: Brenda Keeter of Titusville, FL, class of 1970


don coryell was the head coach.  aztec bowl tickets were cheap, seats were filled.  quarterbacks threw  "the bomb".  end of second quarter, full stadium, aztecs ahead, when, fog rolled in.  gray, thick fog.   patrons with radios gave play descriptions to the eager crowd.  then, half time- would the marching aztecs parade in the dense, clammy fog?  YES!  we could not see the band, but we heard them and cheered loudly, we felt pride in all of us and all our loyalty and determination.  go aztecs!

Submitted by: Dorothy Marshall, class of 1973


M y life changed back in 1983 when I joined the Marching Aztecs. It was
A year to remember for many, many reasons.
R ehearsals and band camp were my introduction to life on what is now called Aztec Mesa.
C harles Friedrichs and
H arold Warman led the band with the voice of the Marching Aztecs, Jerry Zullo, announcing at every game.
I was one of 320 loud, proud, musicians who made life-long friendships, and
N ever gave anything less than 100% at any
G ame or performance.

A nd one fateful day during band rehearsal, I met my future husband as he
Z ipped down the steps of Aztec Bowl for practice
T aking the steps two at a time.
E veryone said brass and woodwind players could not get along
C ertain they were all wrong, we married four years later and have remained together ever since
S o now it has been thirty years since that first day at band camp, the day that changed my life forever.

Submitted by: Donna Duarte


Music soothes the body and soul, especially Kenny G's music. I remember celebrating my birthday at a fall concert in the bowl just south of the library when a huge rainbow formed in the sky. What a memory!

Submitted by: Marie Flatley, Professor Emerita


… [This] musical memory is of me and my girlfriend going to the then not so very known Tom Petty at the Back Door.  We went to the concert, and I said, “let's see if they will let us backstage” and so she followed my lead.  We went by the side of the stage in the front… this was before you had to have credentials and all that security stuff.  I said that I was the drummer's girlfriend, totally acting like I belonged backstage, and this was my girlfriend who also had permission to be there.  The guy looked us up and down and let us through.  Ding dang we were set!  We just walked back there and acted like we belonged.  It was very cool, and I even got to kiss Tom Petty.  I will never forget that as long as I live…

Submitted by Ann Ellrott Sheehan, class of 1980


In 1995 (Encinitas) I owned a talent agency. I rented a room in my home to a Ty Markley. Unbeknownst to me, he was the son of famed guitar-string maker Dean Markley. One day he offered to take me to a Kenny G concert at SDSU - tickets were waiting at the will-call window (non-gratis). Ty then explained who his dad was. The concert was awesome and after its conclusion we were treated to a meet and greet backstage. Kenny G was gracious and I had quite an extended talk with his bass player. That conversation led me to new California talent contacts …. Having never been to an SDSU venue, I must say it was one of the most delightful and fruitful events ever!  I met a fine woman (Cynthia) backstage. And that meeting resulted in our marriage and two beautiful children. When my wife passed suddenly a few years later, I went back to the SDSU seating area (kept my stub) and placed a bouquet of roses on her seat. I haven’t returned since however that memory of our concert meeting will forever be etched in my heart and mind. God bless you Cynthia - God bless you Kenny G and without question ... may God bless SDSU.  Thank you.

Submitted by: Dennis James 


Dancing to Santana in a Batik Bandana: A Coming of Age

Transformational musical moments for me at SDSU include shamanistic Bob Dylan at Cox Arena (2006), Ferrante and Teicher with Dad at Open Air Theater (1980s), and Everyman, husband Jim Hinton’s first folk band, at the Backdoor in 1972.  Yet, nothing surpasses what happened at San Diego’s first Music Festival in Aztec Bowl, on May 11th 1969, I became a hippie.

Weeks before, I listened excitedly to KPRI radio promoting SDSU’s festival. How did I convince my dad to allow a 15 year-old girl, all by herself, into this experience? Dad, Jerry Sanders, was a new SDSU biology instructor. He hadn’t yet experienced the university’s counter-culture threats by the SDS Weathermen and his mistaken consumption of psychedelic brownies left in the lab. In blissful ignorance, Dad gave me a few dollars and dropped me off at Aztec Bowl.

I entered a beautiful day of giddiness and goodwill, along with Hells Angels and Flower Power. Booths lined the perimeter with homespun crafts, Planned Parenthood, and Black Panthers. Perhaps, the pounding rhythm, dancing and chanting produced a contact high. The feeling of freedom could not be denied. Impetuously, I made a decision. Inspecting the batik and tie-dyed clothing, I was riveted to the possibilities of an orange and brown bandana on a tiny wisp of a girl. I made the purchase. Ducking into the ladies room, I removed my bra, tossed it into the trash, and tied the batik bandana around my liberated bosom. In classic 501 Levis, I stepped back into the scene—transformed. Not actually bra-burning, but in blazing inspiration, Cheryl Sanders boogied to Santana’s Black Magic Woman. Legendary bands were on fire all day as I Fell in Love Today with Lee Michaels, was Doin’ That Rag with the Grateful Dead, embraced Tarantula’s Electric Guru, and left On the Road Again with Canned Heat. A new hippie had come of age.

That little bandana accompanied me to countless concerts. It held back my hair in pottery and weaving classes. And finally, the bandana found a permanent home in my archaeology field pack at SDSU. Throughout my adult life the scarf symbolized that day in Aztec Bowl when music transformed me in a rite of passage from child to liberated woman.

Years later, that ritual concert codified another rite of passage. My beloved uncle and mentor William Sanders, renowned Mesoamerican archaeologist, died in Pennsylvania while I toured Ireland.  Selecting meaningful grave goods for his burial, I included crockery from our ancestral Irish village along with a small Kumeyaay pot and sage bundle (from my work with local Tribes). I wrapped them in the SDSU Festival bandana from my archaeology kit. Bill appreciated hippie folk music, and so this symbol came full circle. In a Pennsylvania grave, these California offerings may puzzle future archaeologists. They will never know that the bandana was regalia for a coming of age ritual.

So I tie this bundle of musical myth into the preservation of the Backdoor Mural. Its Aztec-style images playing contemporary instruments may intrigue future archaeologists who will study our musical rites of passage; a story that includes the little black magic bandana that danced to Santana at Aztec Bowl in 1969.

Submitted by: Cheryl Hinton, class of 1980, MA 2001


My Favorite SDSU Music Memory

San Diego State has welcomed hundreds of the worlds’ finest musicians over the years.  Spanning the past four decades, I have been fortunate to witness dozens of diverse acts perform at the various campus venues.  Highlights include seeing Santana and Jeff Beck on back to back nights at the Open Air Theater in September 1980.  Jazz drummer extraordinaire, Billy Cobham gave a mind-blowing ‘clinic’ at the Backdoor in ’85.  Metallica destroyed Cox center court and in the round, 2010.  Although it was very difficult to single out the most memorable show, there was one evening in 1983 that I will remember the rest of my days!

I have played guitar for most of my life.  I have been in bands, recorded, produced and worked as a sound engineer.  My experiences have given me an extreme appreciation of those rare guitarists that have elevated the instrument to heights never before seen or heard.  On a December night at Montezuma Hall, I experienced a performance that literally rocked my world.  Stevie Ray Vaughn absolutely exploded onto the scene!

Back in 1982, a young guitar slinger out of Austin, Texas was the subject of much scuttle butt in the music biz.  Stevie Ray Vaughn and his band, Double Trouble had paid their dues on the local club circuit and the word began to spread like a tornado.  The Rolling Stones flew them to New York City to play a private record company party. Within weeks he was laying down epic tracks for David Bowies’ Lets Dance and signing on with the legendary producer, John Hammond.  Recording of his historic first album, Texas Flood, was completed later that year and the band set off on the road to preach the gospel of rockin’ Texas  blues.

On Thursday, December 1st, 1983, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble played San Diego States’ Montezuma Hall at 9pm.  My wife and I had only been married a short time and together we spent the months leading up to the show immersing ourselves in the mastery and vibe of the Texas Flood album.  The anticipation for the concert was palpable as the date grew near.  We arrived early on campus, determined to get up close. Montezuma Hall looked like a cafeteria, complete with linoleum floors and no chairs.  Just a stage at one end of the hall that we eagerly stood ten feet from as the house lights went down.

Stevie Ray and the band hit the stage and ripped off a blistering version of the appropriately titled instrumental, “Testify.”  Rocking his signature Bolero brim and vintage ‘SRV’ strat, Stevie channeled Hendrix and Albert King into his own original rockin’ blues style.  The set included hits “Pride and Joy”, “Love Struck Baby” and “I’m Cryin’.”  The encore was an incendiary version of Jimi’s “Voodoo Child” that completely blew everybody away!

I would see Stevie Ray Vaughn play six more times before the tragic helicopter crash that prematurely took his life on August 27th, 1990.  The SDSU gig in ’83 was astounding.  Stevie shimmied, played behind his back, behind his head and with the wild abandon of a shooting star on the rise.

Submitted by: Michael J. Anderson


My name is Edward Ortiz.  I am now 97 years old, and I want to share with you my favorite SDSU music memory.

I am very proud to say that I, along with Frank Losey (SDSU’s “Fight On”) started the very first SDSU Pep Band.

In 1934 I graduated from Grossmont High School and went on to attend SDSU.  I wanted to join a band but quickly discovered one did not exist. 

We decided to form a pep band but to do this we had to have a sponsor.  We went to the faculty member who was in charge of the Aztec Book Store.  He thought it was a great idea and arranged a place for us to practice.  There were around 15 members.

Since Frank and I formed the Pep Band, we were each paid $50 for the entire season.  We, the Pep Band, continued to play at all SDSU’s home games that first year of my attending SDSU.

Submitted by: Edward Ortiz, class of 1940