On Wednesday, June 27, a key figure in the Orange County punk scene was lost with the passing of Steve Soto, bassist and founding member of The Adolescents, at age 54. Soto also performed with Manic Hispanic, Agent Orange, 22 Jacks, Punk Rock Karaoke and CJ Ramone.
Soto died peacefully in his sleep, according to a short social media post by a friend of the family, but no cause of death is known at this time.
Soto was an instrumental musician and songwriter from the onset of the original wave of early Southern California hardcore punk. Since the founding of The Adolescents in 1980, Soto was known by many as one of the nicest guys in punk rock who always had a smile on his face.
Within hours of his death, The Adolescents' Twitter page posted the following message: “With a heavy heart, I share the passing of Steve Soto, my friend and bandmate since 1979. I dont know what to do. or to say. Goodbye my brother.”
The band, which currently features singer Tony Reflex, guitarists Dan Root and Ian Taylor and drummer Mike Cambra, recently completed a U.S. tour that ended last week on the East Coast. Plans for a European tour were already in place for later this summer, all ahead of the release of a new album, Crop Duster.
Known as a genuine, hard-working, passionate musician and fan of other bands in the scene, Soto was always busy and immersed in playing with his various groups, and making music from day one. Punk Rock Karaoke, a punk super-group that Soto played bass with, had several local gigs lined up in July, and Manic Hispanic played a show in Long Beach at Alex’s Bar on May 5. Soto rarely had idle time, but he loved being part of the punk rock community.
Over the years, bands including The Offspring, Social Distortion and Bad Religion have paid homage to The Adolescents, and Soto was seen as a father figure to many younger groups.
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O.C. punk band The Vandals posted the following message on their official Twitter page hours after Soto’s death was confirmed. “We are truly at a loss for words to hear about the passing of our great friend Steve Soto. The nicest guy in punk rock. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.”
Soto will be remembered as being a true friend of punk rock, and a kind soul who dedicated his life to music. He will leave a void in the punk scene he helped to forge, but his legacy will live on with the music he created with The Adolescents and the many bands he was involved with.
CJ Ramone posted a long message on his social media accounts that contained the following about Soto: “Not a whole lot of people I’ve met in my life that I could call up anytime, anywhere, any condition and they would help. My brother Steve Soto was one of the few. I owe most of what I’ve done post-Ramones to Steve. … I hope he knew how much I appreciated, loved and respected him. I’m going to miss him. Rock on my brother. See you on the other side.”