Freddy Fender Memorial – Lucerne Valley, CA

Well this is certainly a trip. A friend showed me this photo of a Freddy Fender memorial sign in Lucerne Valley, CA. And I guess it’s just a sign out in the middle of the California High Desert but to me it has much more significance.

I lived in the High Desert for about 18 years. And Lucerne Valley was one of my very first bar gigs playing country music. Around 1988 I played in a little dive biker bar in Lucerne Valley for $35 (USD) a night and one free shot of whiskey every set. Also played a little joint there we called “The Y” because it was at the Y in the road that would take you up to Big Bear Mountain or on to 29 Palms and Palm Springs.

I remember very vividly playing this little Lucerne Valley bar that probably held 30 people. The band was drunk and the patrons were drunk and they would tell us how good we were and all that kind of stuff.

Fast forward 10 years after that and I was producing albums in Southern California and playing keyboards for Freddy Fender. And still every once in a while if I had a night off I would go into Lucerne Valley to pick up a gig for fifty bucks. Or on my night off would go to that little country bar and hide in the corner listening to the band. And I would wonder: Were those players dreaming day and night like me about playing better gigs?

Fast forward 10 years after Freddy Fender and I’m sitting in my penthouse apartment in China doing music for Cirque Du Soleil. I’d say now is the first time in my life where I haven’t dreamt about “the next gig”, because I like the Cirque gig so much. But I still always have the next project I’m working on.

Anyway, a big shout out to all my fellow High Desert Rats (and I use that term with sincere affection) out in Lucerne Valley. I sure hope you guys still listen to country music…

5 thoughts on “Freddy Fender Memorial – Lucerne Valley, CA

  1. Hi

    I travelled through Lucerne Valley in 2009 – we stopped for gas and a burger. We almost ran out of gas (or petrol – we’re British) and we were very glad to find this town! My husband is a music fanatic and a particular fan of Freddy, so thanks for your story – it made him smile 🙂

  2. I’m living in China and you’re living in Britain (I’m assuming that) and we’ve both been to the unlikely place of Lucerne Valley. That’s a trip!

    Thanks for commenting on this rather obscure blog post. Lucerne Valley, CA has a real unique flavor to it (one that I like very much). I had a lot of great times there in my early years playing live music. And of course we all miss Freddy….

  3. I’m in SVL and we took a drive out that way yesterday to go the back way up to Big Bear,,,we passed this place and I thought we entered the twilight zone. I don’t get it and what’s with the hearse ?! Creepy lol, but whatever. Hey, remember the banana museum in Hesperia? It’s still there !


  4. Hey Jenny,
    No, I never saw the banana museum in the Hesperia and I lived in the area for 18 years. Guess there’s always more to see (or not!).

    There was a hearse in Lucerne Valley? I used to play once in a while with a saxophone player from Lucerne Valley that would drive to the gig in a hearse. It had a big skull with horns on the hood, a bull I think. I’d wonder if it’s the same one? Was the hearse sitting at the memorial sign or somewhere else?

  5. this is my grandfathers property he’s been in Lucerne since i was 5 he built this in memory of his friend Freddy they met in the service

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