Steve Soto, founder of the influential Southern California punk bands the Adolescents and Agent Orange, died at the age of 54, his family confirmed.

The Adolescents had just completed a U.S. tour and were preparing to travel to Europe.

“Steve … spent Tuesday evening doing what he loved to do; recording and making music with his friends Greg Antista and Jim Monroe, and was very much looking forward to the upcoming European tour starting next week," the band and Soto’s family said in a joint statement. "Wednesday afternoon he passed away peacefully in his sleep. This has taken us all by surprise. Our hearts and prayers are now with his family and friends. We ask during this time to respect their privacy. Thank you so much for the years of love and support you have shown Steve and all of his bands. It means so much and will not be forgotten.”

Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong paid tribute on Instagram, recounting how the Adolescents’ music “hit the right spot for me when I needed it the most.” “Life isn’t fair," he said. "Sometimes it just sucks … RIP Steve Soto.”

“[Soto] played in so many great bands, was a great bass player, guitar player and singer, but mostly he was just an honest and sweet guy," the Offspring remembered in a tweet. "He was our hero in the Adolescents and an inspiration to us as musicians.”

And Rancid noted that "when you talk about California punk rock and punk rock in general, Steve Soto will forever be on top of the list of people who put it on the map. He 100 percent helped pave the way for all of us who decided to pick up an instrument and play our version of punk. You will be missed. RIP."

Soto founded Agent Orange in 1979 but moved on to the Adolescents soon afterward. They released their self-titled debut album in 1981; their most recent release is 2016’s Manifest Destiny. In between stints with that band, he also played with Legal Weapon, Joyride and 22 Jacks, and worked as a solo artist.

In 2014, he recounted how he’d been given a collection of Beatles records when he was five years old. “When I was young, I was never like, Oh I want to be a fireman, pilot or an astronaut – I wanted to be in a band," he said. "It seemed like that was just cool and something I was interested in. … You could call it fate or whatever but, when I was 14, my father worked for the city and someone had left at one of the park bandstands a Hofner bass, the kind that Paul McCartney played. It sat in the lost and found for a year or so and finally my dad went to the police chief and said, ‘This thing has been sitting here for almost two years … ’ and he said, ‘Give it to your son.’ So I got this crazy Hofner bass and then it was on!”

 

 

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