Billy Bacon Passes Away; San Diego Rockabilly Musician Gave More Than ‘Una Mas Cerveza’

San Diego's Billy Bacon passes away - Courtesy


Billy Bacon, the respected San Diego musician known for his rockabilly pop sound, passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Bacon, whose true name is William Seth Russell, was one of the musicians at the forefront of the 1980s rockabilly trend. He was the founder of the San Diego band Billy Bacon and The Forbidden Pigs, which played gigs throughout California, Arizona, Texas and in Europe.

Few details are known, but his health had been in decline. At his time of death, Bacon was living in Lincoln, Neb.

Billy Bacon and his Porkestra – You Don’t Know

Musicians and friends posted tribute to Bacon. Friend and San Diego musician Adrian Demain has performed Bacon’s song “Clock on the Wall” and wrote on his Facebook page: “For my friend, William Seth Russell. I’m glad you got to hear and see this. Thank you for the decades of friendship and your magnificent music and songwriting. God speed, Billy Bacon.”

Bacon’s angelic voice and appealing pop songs won him many fans and collaborators in California and beyond.  Musicians who sat in with Bacon and his band and collaborated with him over the years have included Dave Alvin, Mojo Nixon, Joe Walsh and others. His music runs the gamut from psychedelic rock to pop, surf, rockabilly and Tex-Mex Americana. Bacon incorporated an array of instruments to augment his voice, which could be compared in style to a blend of the Beach Boys and Rusty Young of Poco.

Simple and Fun: ‘Una Mas Cerveza’ 

The first record Bacon released with the Forbidden Pigs was the 45 “Una Mas Cerveza,” in 1988 via Swingin’ Records, the San Diego-based label founded by Mark Neill. The song was more than a regional hit and was widely covered.

Bacon was influenced by Mojo Nixon and was known to play the local SD hotspots like The Bacchanal and Mandolin Wind. The Forbidden Pigs albums include The Other White Meat, Pork Que, 13 Years of Bad Road, Pig Latin and Dressed to Swill.

“I was just thinking about that boy yesterday, I really dug him n’ his shit,” said performer King Cotton, AKA Dicky Sony when informed of Bacon’s passing. “We never got real close but I had big respect for him and I voted for him and his Pigs as my favorite local ‘pik ta klik’ in some local paper back in the mid-’80s. We met and we really saw eye to eye. My band used to perform his song, ‘Una Mas Cerveza.'”

While Bacon may have made a name for himself with the fun party song “Una Mas Cerveza,” his music had great range and depth. His lyrics told engaging and witty stories appreciated in any language.

Bacon gained popularity across the U.S. and was loved by many. He was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2006, which forced him to cut back on his touring. But he released High Wide and Handsome in 2016. In 2018, The Forbidden Pigs put together a reunion show in Tucson.

“Billy Bacon is great,” Nixon wrote of Bacon in the liner notes for High Wide and Handsome. “Been great since the early ’80’s when we were both kicked outta the ‘Outriders.’ Billy Bacon is the sound of San Diego.”

High, Wide and Handsome by Billy Bacon on Spotify: