Ken Schoppmeyer was one of the seminal figures of blues music in San Diego, and is often credited with helping establish San Diego’s blues scene four decades ago. He died in Oceanside this week at the age of 60, the victim of suicide, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner.
Here’s a letter from reader Michael Sosebee, along with a short documentary by Sosebee that recounts the early days of San Diego blues and Schoppmeyer’s role in them.
On Tuesday August 31, 2010, Ken Schoppmeyer, a born and raised San Diegan, took his life.
The story might end there, but it doesn’t.
The reason being that Ken had led an unusual life and has influenced San Diego in a very dynamic way. When he was 14 years old he started a group with his lifelong friend Paul Cowie called King Biscuit. In 1966, at the tender age of 16 his band opened for B.B. King at The Palace. This was during a time when “the Blues” was code for “Black Music”. When he opened for B.B. King his mother Dana, who had to chaperone the duo, was the only white person in the audience.
Over the next 20 years King Biscuit became “the” blues band for San Diego. Ken’s slavish devotion to “authentic blues” led him to play with and tutor some of the best players in town, many of which went on to form bands of their own. Here is an interview that was taken weeks before his death.
He was a great singer, harmonica player and bandleader up until the day he died.
Here’s an obituary by Frogger Dogger, a local music website. If you have memories of Schoppmeyer, please share them in the comments section.
— ADRIAN FLORIDO