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Rock ‘n’ Roll Mural Unveiled At San Diego State Library

Photo by Matthew Bowler

"The Backdoor" mural at San Diego State's Love Library, Oct. 29, 2015.

San Diego State leaders unveiled a mural Thursday that was saved from the wrecking ball four years ago.

Close to 200 people showed up to see Thursday's unveiling of what’s called "The Backdoor" mural at San Diego State's Love Library.

The brightly-colored mural dates back to the 1970s and depicts Aztec warriors in a rock band. The lead singer wears KISS-like platform shoes and has a marijuana leaf on his shirt. It used to hang outside one of SDSU’s original concert venues called The Backdoor. Seth Mallios is a professor in the Anthropology Department at SDSU. He fought to save the mural when the venue was demolished to build a new student center.

"It was just one of these piece of art, because it was student art, because it was part of the Chicano student organization and the identity at the time, and because it spoke to the excitement on campus during the 70s," Mallios said.

SDSU alum Jack Tempchin performed the song "Already Gone" at the unveiling. He wrote the song at the Backdoor when he was a SDSU student. It later became a hit song for the The Eagles, along with "Peaceful Easy Feeling," which Tempchin also penned.

The celebration included the release of the book "Let it Rock," by Mallios and Jamie Lennox, charting the music history of SDSU. Lennox listed some of the bands that played The Backdoor when she spoke with KPBS in 2011: "Talking Heads, The Go Gos, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Romeo Void, Wall of Vodoo, The Beat Farmers, Violent Femmes, REM, Docken, Metallica, The Replacements, Love and Rockets, Jimmy Buffett, Chuck Mangione, King Fish, Etta James, John Lee Hooker with Big Mama Thorton, Captain Beefheart."

She also said the venue was small enough to stand 30 feet from these bands. And one could see musicians like Patti Smith for $2.50 at the time.

"It was very, very inexpensive," Lennox said.

Many of those bands would have passed the Backdoor mural on their way to the stage. It was painted in 1976 by a Chicano Studies lecturer named Arturo Enselmo Roman and his students.

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