Although there won’t be a concert this year with the Palisades Fourth of July Celebration, many people may remember back to 2013, when Foo Fighter and Palisades resident Chris Shiflett performed.
On May 2, the Foo Fighters led by Dave Grohl, performed at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, when the international aid group Global Citizen presented “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World,” one of the first concerts after the Covid shutdown.
Then on May 12, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame officially announced this year’s inductees in the Performers category: Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Jay-Z, Carole King, Todd Rundgren, and Tina Turner.
Three of the inductees, Grohl, Turner, and King, are entering the Hall of Fame for the second time. King was inducted along with her former songwriting partner Gerry Goffin in 1990 as a non-performer, Tina Turner entered in 1991 as half of the Ike & Tina Turner duo, and Grohl became a member of the Rock Hall as Nirvana’s drummer in 2014.
Grohl spoke to Rolling Stone about the new honor for the Foo Fighters “I’m mostly happy for Pat [Smear] and Nate [Mendel] and Chris [Shiflett] and Taylor [Hawkins] and Rami [Jaffee]. I don’t think any of us ever imagined that this would happen.
“But also, if there’s one common thread that’s run through the last 25 years of being in this band, it’s that everything just falls in our laps. It really does, like having the band begin with a simple demo tape, which was finished right around the time Sunny Day Real Estate was breaking up, and Pat Smear hearing the tape and offering his service.
“Then we made our second record and were let out of our contract due to a ‘key man clause’ because Gary Gersh was the president of Capitol Records. He was the man that signed Nirvana to Geffen. And we had a clause that said if he were to leave the company, we were free to go as well. So he left the company and we were free to go. Then we weren’t obligated to be a band. We decided to continue because we loved being a band. We built a studio in my basement, not knowing what we were doing, nailing sleeping bags on the wall for soundproofing.
“And then coming out of that, winning Grammys … I don’t know. It just seems like this band has been in the right place at the right time for the past 25 years.
It’s funny. There’s never been a boardroom full of people discussing any career direction or decision. It’s the same eight people for 25 years that follow our gut instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, we just don’t do it.”
In a 2013 story, I interviewed Chris Shiflett, who lives with his wife and three children in town. He was a genuinely nice, down-to-earth guy, and famous as the lead guitarist in the Foo Fighters, which has been nominated 25 times for a Grammy (winning 11 times, including Best Rock Album in 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2013 – more than any other band).
Shiflett sat down and explained why he agreed to headline the Palisades concert. “I’m usually on tour around the Fourth of July,” he said. “But last year I took my kids down to PaliHi and saw The English Beat. We had a blast, so I was totally up for it when they approached me about playing this year.”
The timing was also right. “Foo Fighters are gonna be off the road for a while and probably won’t start working on a new album until the beginning of next year,” said Shiflett, who had just come off a tour with that group promoting their album “Wasting Light.” Dead Peasants, which was formed in 2010, played the Stagecoach Festival in Indio in April, and is compiling gigs for the July 30 release of its second album.
“Pacific Palisades is like a teeny Santa Barbara tucked away in a corner of Los Angeles,” said Shiflett, who grew up in Santa Barbara. “There’s a sense of community here that you don’t get in other parts of Los Angeles. This is the only place I’ve ever lived in LA where we know most of our neighbors.”
A Palisades resident since 2002, Shiflett was the third of three boys. His father was a sociology professor, who exposed his sons to the music of the Beatles and Rolling Stones.
“My two older brothers played guitar and they were the biggest musical influence in my life,” said Shiflett, who started playing guitar as an 11-year-old. “All we cared about when we were kids was music and I wanted to be like them.”
His oldest brother Mike still teaches guitar at Jensen Guitar and Music in Santa Barbara, the school where Shiflett learned to play, and his middle brother Scott plays with the punk rock band Face to Face.
Shiflett was asked if it was difficult to go back and forth from country to rock-and-roll.
“You can draw a straight line from Hank Williams to The Clash,” he said. “The two genres are closely related. George Jones and Buck Owens early recordings were practically rockabilly, and I’ve always had an ear for twangy American music.
“Hank Williams is the perfect pre-rock and roll rebel archetype,” Shiflett added. “He had all the talent in the world but couldn’t get out of his own way.”
Shiflett has spent hours investigating and playing honky tonk from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. “We dug into back catalogs of people’s work. I wanted to get my head around this kind of music, so I could make it natural to me.”
One reviewer described Shiflett’s new direction: “This highlights Chris’s versatility and skill not only as a guitarist—showcasing his deft playing in an entirely new light—but also as a songwriter: the songs are some of the best, most realized that he’s written.”
In 2017, Shiflett released his first solo album “West Coast Town,” a collection of original honky tonk tracks, and in 2019, he released a second solo album “Hard Lessons.”
And now, Shiflett will join the Foo Fighters in being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
And next year, when there might be a Fourth of July concert. . . .do you think Shiflett might want to play for his hometown, again?