San Diego is known for its two major environmental characteristics: its singular weather type and relentlessly sunny beaches. It was no surprise then, that I found myself sitting across from the man who produced the original “San Diego Super Chargers” song in one of his homes positioned right on the beach in perfect 75-degree weather.
Jerry Marcellino is not your typical San Diegan, however.
He looks more like Hollywood’s version of a 19th-century Italian mobster. His hair is shining white and slicked back so smoothly it appears it will no longer go any other way. His mustache is a deep black and he wears large rings on select fingers, indicating a punch from him would mean permanent indentation. During the interview, he was perfectly situated in front of his two large colleagues, Craig and Roy Godfrey, who loomed behind like two dutiful henchmen.
He speaks with certainty and pride. This man has accomplished much in his 48 years in the music business, including producing songs for the great Michael Jackson, and although these men appear intimidating, they are simply old, creative souls. They are all singers, producers or entertainers.
Marcellino is the man who I hoped to persuade. He is the sole reason the “San Diego Super Chargers” song came to fruition. Months and months of emails with one of his large colleagues, Craig Godfrey, had brought me to his home, but there was no certainty that the interview would end with a decision.
To my delight, he seemed as excited about the idea as I was.
Being a San Diego sports fan means to look in only two directions, in the past and to the future. The present is usually too ugly to celebrate while the past is brimming with greats such as Dan Fouts, LaDainian Tomlinson, Kellen Winslow, Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman, Dave Winfield and more.
Meanwhile, to every sports fan, the future only brings more opportunities for success. This illustrates the psyche of every fan, they prepare for the worst but nearly always expect the best.
When the Chargers, and their fans, left San Diego, that future was taken away. San Diego football fans could now only look at the past while never again having the future or the present.
However, when the Chargers left, they took more than a beloved franchise. They took, what Craig Godrey referred to as, “the longest-running sports song ever.”
So I, like many others, stewed in anger over these losses. The Chargers were one of the major pastimes that brought my large family together. But then, I began thinking of both the past and the future as I am conditioned to do.
This was a baseball town, one that still had the opportunity of a positive future. The Chargers will never return, but San Diego can still reclaim something that was lost by the Chargers’ departure: their song.
Marcellino was hired to produce the original “San Diego Super Chargers” song by “accident”. He was a writer for A&M records and just happened to be friends with someone who was close to then-Chargers owner, Eugene Klein. Back in 1979, Klein wanted an updated song for his team, something “happening now.”
When he first started on the song, he thought it would last for only a year.
“Everybody liked it, but we figured a year, maybe two years,” Marcellino said. “It went away for a couple of years when [Chargers owner Alex] Spanos took it. He then tried to create his own, but that went away and they brought back my version.”
He could have never imagined the rapid popularity that followed.
“That first year, it was so big and they were so excited about it. They went to the [AFC] Championship game against the Houston Oilers that year,” Marcellino said. “They had me put together a whole concept where I got a bunch of these big guys and we would call them ‘Captain QB and the Big Boys.’ They would be the band for the song and they wanted me to play it at the Super Bowl, which would have been big.”
Despite the Chargers falling to that Houston Oilers team in 1979, the song lived on and became a staple in any Chargers fan’s home. ESPN’s Chris Berman would sing it on Sunday Night Football, it would play at every home game and non-Chargers fans even enjoyed the silly 70s vibes through the years while it became San Diego’s anthem of sorts.
“When people find out Jerry is the one who created that song, when we are in San Diego, they just go crazy over it,” Roy Godfrey said glowingly.
For as long as that song lasted and to the magnitude that it was loved, it could not overcome the changing of a city. However, the song is titled, “San Diego Super Chargers” and San Diego has not been left without a team.
“There seems to be a void. There is a generation in their 40s who grew up with that song and miss it,” Craig Godfrey accurately asserted.
And miss it, many do. Humming a song that no longer references something that exists is a trip into the melancholy. But, as I sat across from the man who brought that song into existence while discussing the past and the future, a decision was made.
The song will not be left behind like the Chargers abandoned it. It will instead be remade by the same men who made the first nearly 40 years ago. A song that pays homage to the past but looks toward the future of the Padres: the San Diego “Super” Padres.