The Legend of Fil-Am Ed ‘RockDaMullet’ Santos

Community News & Features Feb 22, 2019 at 4:13 pm
rom Ed Santos Twitter: “I am Filipino, born in Japan with a Mexican last name. I grew up in Cerritos, California.  The mother of our child is Native American and white. My daughter has autism, OCD amongst many other issues.”

From Ed Santos Twitter: “I am Filipino, born in Japan with a Mexican last name. I grew up in Cerritos, California. The mother of our child is Native American and white. My daughter has autism, OCD amongst many other issues.”

The story of a Filipino-American artist and marketer who leaves a tremendous influence in Southern California, in the history of social media, the world of extreme sports, and in the alternative music scene

By José Victor ‘Jayvee’ Salameña

On February 13, 2019, it was announced on social media that Filipino-American Ed Santos, known in social media and in Southern California as “RockDaMullet”, passed away due to complications with the flu and pneumonia at the age of 51. Hailed as an “unsung cultural hero” and a “social media icon” by the Southern California press that covered his passing, Ed Santos leaves behind a legacy that has influenced Southern California, the history of social media, the world of extreme sports, and the alternative music scene. He is survived by his partner, Missy, and two children, daughter Abcde (pronounced Ab-suh-dee) and son Jared.

On an Instagram post on September 7, 2018, partially in response to the rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric in the United States due to the Presidency of Donald Trump, Ed Santos posted in protest his Filipino heritage (with hashtags removed), “I am Filipino, born in Japan with a Mexican last name. I grew up in Cerritos, California (Spanish named).”

Ed Santos with Wing Lam, co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Taco, which has grown to over 60 restaurants in seven .U.S states, and Japan.

Ed Santos with Wing Lam, co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Taco, which has grown to over 60 restaurants in seven .U.S states, and Japan.

He was fortunate in growing up in Southern California in the 1980s. Southern California was fertile ground for the cultural trends that would spread into the mainstream in the decades after. It was amidst the backdrop of this cultural renaissance of surf and skate culture and punk rock in Southern California that Ed Santos built his network of friends and became an artist and an effective marketer.  With his trademark 1980s mullet haircut, and his large ear plugs, Ed became a familiar face in their events. And as the subculture grew out of California and into the mainstream, so did his legacy.

His most prominent legacy is his marketing partnership with Wahoo’s Fish Taco. Ed was recruited by Wing Lam, Wahoo’s co-founder, to market Wahoo’s to a broader audience. With the help of Ed’s artistic skills and connections, and unorthodox marketing tactics, Wahoo’s grew and now has over 60 restaurants all around the United States.  Wing Lam was quoted as saying about Ed, “He was my partner in crime.”

Ed was also recruited to help market the Vans Warped Tour. That tour, which began in 1995, would become the premier tour for the hard rock and alternative music scene and would go on to become the largest travelling music festival in the United States, and the longest-running touring music festival in North America, until it’s final cross-country run in 2018.

In 1999, he was approached by Travis Barker, drummer for the Southern California punk band blink-182, to create a logo for his personal clothing line, named “Famous Stars and Straps”. Ed Santos then created a stylized ‘F’ logo (F for Famous). Today, Famous Stars and Straps is worn by famous rock musicians, rappers, skateboarders and BMX riders, and the logo that Ed created, nicknamed the ‘Badge of Honor’, has become a prominent symbol in the music and extreme sports subcultures.
Ed has also worked with Black Flys, an eyewear company famous in the skate, surf and snowboard culture. He has also worked to market Monster Energy Drinks. On an article about Ed published in 2005, the marketing director for Monster Energy Drinks was quoted as saying “Eddy has a great following with kids. They see him almost as a rock star.”

Ed Santos with Travis Barker, drummer of blink-182 and founder of the Famous Stars and Straps clothing line.

Ed Santos with Travis Barker, drummer of blink-182 and founder of the Famous Stars and Straps clothing line.

Ed was also prominent in the early days of social media, gaining prominence as one of the first social media celebrities, when he amassed over 46,000 “friends” in the early social media site MySpace, which was at that time was a substantial number, especially in the early days of internet social media. His Instagram also boasts selfies with prominent Hollywood actors like David Spade and extreme sports athletes like Tony Hawk.

In his later years, he became an advocate for the rights of special needs children, as his daughter Abcde has OCD and autism. Abcde gained media prominence when she was turned away from visiting a mall Santa Claus in 2014 because the mall Santa was allegedly afraid of Abcde’s service animal. The story gained national and international coverage with CNN.

Ed Santos’ legacy lives on in the companies that became successful because of his designs and marketing works. As they say in Southern California lingo: RIP to the OC OG (Rest In Peace to the Orange County Original Gangsta).