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X marks a milestone for punk

Los Angeles-based band, whose career took off with the late Ray Manzarek's help, will play Thursday at OC Fair.

July 16, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Exene Cervenka of X. The Los Angeles-based band will play with the B-52s at the OC Fair on Thursday.
Exene Cervenka of X. The Los Angeles-based band will play… (Maggie St Thomas…)

This post has been corrected, as noted below.

So much about the punk band X is a testament to Ray Manzarek — from its music to its lingering presence.

"The fact that we exist is in and of itself a tribute to Ray," said Exene Cervenka, co-lead vocalist of the Los Angeles ensemble.

She recalled receiving a text about the death of the Doors' founding member and keyboardist, who produced four albums for X in the '80s, and praying it was a mistake.

It wasn't. Manzarek, 74, succumbed to a prolonged battle with bile duct cancer on May 20. Having last played alongside him at West Hollywood's Roxy Theatre in summer 2012, Cervenka retired to bed that night in tears.

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X will take the stage at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Pacific Amphitheatre for the first time since Manzarek's passing. The B-52s, named in honor of the bouffant hairdo and lauded for hits such as "Love Shack," "Roam" and "Rock Lobster," are also part of the evening's lineup.

According to Dan Gaines, entertainment director for the OC Fair's Toyota Summer Concert Series, the B-52s were secured first, and X came to the forefront when ideas were tossed around to boost the program.

"When we learned X was available, we jumped at the chance because we felt this was a very strong pairing," Gaines said. "Similar in some ways, but at the same time different. ... As it turns out, the pairing seems to have worked, and the show is approaching sellout."

He described X fans as "die-hard and very enthusiastic," adding that the song "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene" has been his longtime favorite.

Cervenka anticipates that the event could easily feature a moment to celebrate Manzarek, who, she said, had a "human, spiritual-being kind of influence" on the band without ever tweaking its sound. Manzarek was originally scheduled to perform at this year's OC Fair, and Who vocalist Roger Daltrey replaced him after his death.

Although Manzarek was an opinionated person and bursting at the seams with talent, he was never "a jerk," she said. Instead, he was smart, generous and compassionate.

"He was not afraid of anybody or anything," Cervenka remarked. "When you're making a record with him, you're going to see that and see that and see that. It was great — we got more out of working with him than anything else."

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