Pacifica was the brainchild of two 16-year olds, best friends Richard Lewellen and Shelly Albaum, who in the spring of 1980 recruited an advertising executive new to barbershop (Earl Gauger) and young minstrel who had studied music at UC Berkeley (Steve Schlussel). All four eventually held officer or director positions with their chapter, the Santa Monica Oceanaires.
Pacifica won the SoCal Novice contest in January of 1981, and qualified to compete at the fall convention, but was prevented from doing so by a personnel change.
New baritone Steve Barclay, who was the original tenor for The Occidentals (replaced by Russ Walker), arrived just in time for a year of continuous coaching, starting with quartet schools at Harmony College West, and Harmony College in Missouri. Under the tutelage of Greg Lyne, Earl Moon, Ed Waesche, Val Hicks, Jay Giallombardo, Lance Heilman, Burt Staffen, Bobby Gray Jr., and many others, the quartet rapidly improved.
Its members had never competed in a Far Western District quartet championship before. Main Street Review, Santa Barbara Sound, and Four Points West were the obvious contenders for 1982; Pacifica just hoped to make 5th Place to get on the album with what was supposed to be their final performance (because their tenor had already relocated). But singing with little pressure and a lot of joy, the quartet had a truly Cinderella competition.