Original Members: Gary Maltby: lead vocals
Robert Mansueto: lead guitar
Gary Carter: guitar
Rich Heinz: bass Art Battson: drums
Later Members: John Chambers: keyboards
Charlie Wilhoit: drums
Dave Vaughan: drums
WE WERE THERE
AND WE REMEMBER…”
— THE WEST COAST IRONWORKS
As any generation will attest, music plays an integral part in the make-up of their youth. In the early 1960s, when the British invasion swept our shores, a new era of rock ‘n’ roll emerged. With the birth of this new music, a group of five young men from Coronado, California got together to form a rock ‘n’ roll band. It was June 1967, three weeks before graduation, when Gary Carter was sitting in his car listening to the radio. Grooving to the tunes, he heard a tap at his window. Standing there was his good friend, Gary Maltby. Gary asked him if he would like to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band. Carter thought for a moment, had visions of fame, women chasing him, and the opportunity to play music; and without hesitation, Carter said, “I’m in.” The first practice was held at Artie Battson’s (class of ‘66) parents’ garage. The band at that time consisted of Richie Heinz (class of ‘69), Gary Carter (class of ’67), Gary Maltby (class of ‘69) and for a short time Dugan Richardson, who was replaced later by Bob Mansueto (class of ‘70).
Practicing every day after school, the group began brainstorming on a name. With less than inspirational ideas i.e., Gary and the Playboys, Artie Battson picked up the phonebook. Thumbing through the yellow pages, he stumbled across a business called the West Coast Ironworks and with only X, Y, and Z left the Xylophonics wouldn’t do and neither would the Yellow Zebras. With heavy rock metal becoming popular i.e., Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Steppenwolf, why not the West Coast Ironworks? The band now had a name, members, and songs; and they were eager to play. Over the months, the band members changed when Artie Battson had to return to college at UCSB. Fortunately, for the West Coast Ironworks they found a drummer to replace Artie named Charlie Wilhoit (class of ‘68). During this time, they acquired a keyboard player named John Chambers (class of ‘68 from Chula Vista) since the band John was playing in, the Rubber Band, split up.
The band went through another change with a drummer when Charlie got married. Dave Vaughan (class of ‘67) became the third drummer for the West Coast Ironworks. The band was very popular during this time playing for many school dances and private functions. In 1967, the West Coast Ironworks organized and played in the first annual “Be There” concert, which was held at the old city dump in Coronado. This area was formerly Rancho Carrillo, the pig farm. Now this area is the Coronado Cays. Teens from all over San Diego crammed into their cars for a night of dancing and drinking. The final and fourth annual “Be There” was in the summer of 1970. Organized by Carter, it was held at the old reservation, which is right next to the Amphib Base, and now the sight of the park and boat landing. Unfortunately, the West Coast Ironworks did not play at this event.
When I interviewed the West Coast Ironworks, I asked them, “What funny things happened when you were together?” Heinz, recalled the time the group played for a nudist colony, a.k.a. American Sunbathers Association. They were greeted at the venue by a group of overweight, dark-tanned, naked adults, and were directed to the staging area. By the time the band was ending their last set, the nudists announced that it was time for the band to take off their clothes and swim. Gary Maltby quickly announced that there would be one more song,”We Gotta Get Out of These Clothes, I Mean Place”; and when the song was done, the band were down to their boxers except for Heinz who wore a pair of briefs with a lovingly hand-stitched peace symbol, by Cindy Grant, on them. Vaughan recalls the time the West Coast Ironworks, for the second time, entered the Battle of the Bands contest. We wanted to do something different and go against the flow. The band members all switched instruments and won the contest for the “Best Song”. This led to an appearance on a local television show. Dressed in their colorful Nehru shirts, they lip-synced their song on live television.
The West Coast Ironworks had dreams of playing music forever.They all agreed that they would get together once a year for the annual All Class Reunion that is held every year on the 4th of July in Coronado.They have gone their different ways and some live in different states, but the one common bond that brought them together, music, has never escaped them.
What have they been up to? Drummers: Artie Battson, retired as Director of Instructional Technology at UCSB, and is currently working on classroom design for the UC as well as producing online media for the Veritas Forum www.Veritas.org. In 1978, he joined a group called Reverie.This band split up when three of the members went to join Mike Love (formerly of the Beach Boys) to form the band Endless Summer. In 1985, Artie played with a band called the Staff Infection until they split up in 2005.Charlie Wilhoit, his whereabouts are unknown. Dave Vaughan lives in Boise, Idaho and works in commercial real estate. He is in a rock ‘n’ roll band called the Fabulous Chancellors. When in town, he will play with the West Coast Ironworks. Guitarists: Gary Carter is the Dean of Arts and Humanities at Chabot College in Hayward, California. With his many arts-related disciplines, he oversees the Department of Music, where he is often asked by his students to jam with various college ensembles. He also is known to settle ongoing questions about 1960’s rock ‘n’ roll trivia. He continues to play with the West Coast Ironworks. Bob Mansueto is a San Diego dentist. He continues to play jazz and sits in with the West Coast Ironworks from time to time. Richie Heinz lives in Ocean Beach, California. He
Richie Heinz lives in Ocean Beach, California. He is a piano technician/tuner along with playing in a Celtic band www.highlandway.us. He continues to play with the West Coast Ironworks. Keyboards: John Chambers lives in San Diego and has been playing rock ‘n’ roll all his life. After college, he did the urban cowboy thing and played country music. But 12 years ago, he became hooked to the accordion sound. It was only natural for him to pick up the squeeze box again as that was the first instrument he played when he was eight years old. He has formed the Bayou Brothers and they play all over town. He also continues to play with the West Coast Ironworks. Lead Singer: Gary Maltby lives in San Clemente and works for Lexus, Inc. He keeps his vocals tuned by being a regular at the Karaoke scene and occasionally sings with bands in the area. He still sings with the West Coast Ironworks.
SPECIAL NOTE: Hope you can catch the original Iron Works at the All Class Reunion on July 3rd when we do a tribute to Sgt. Pepper and on the 4th of July when the Class of ’66 parades down Orange Avenue on the “America Rocks” float with the “Pre-Fab Four” doing American Pie and a medley of Buddy Holly/Richie Valens/Big Bopper tunes. Although there’s no guarantee that we’ll hit all the notes all the time, a splendid time is guaranteed for all. – Art Battson
July 3, 2011 from 8pm to 11:30pm – Coronado Golf Course Clubhouse for graduates of Coronado High School and their friends, must be 21 years old to attend. Proceeds help support the Coronado Schools Foundation. Cost: $10 at the door
CHECK OUT WEST COAST IRONWORKS PLUS FRIENDS IN PAST ALL STAR REUNIONS: