Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rare Tape of a Radio Show on the Evolution of Chicano Rock Music Found!

The tape contains music and interviews with Chicano rock pioneers TIERRA, YAQUI, Mark Guerrero and Chicano rock music producer, Art Brambila, which aired 40 years ago on KLOS-FM in Los Angeles, CA.
     Memories, precious memories!
     There isn’t a Chicano alive today who doesn’t recognize the title of the 1980 hit record made famous by the legendary East Los Angeles-based Chicano rock group, TIERRA!
     Little did most Chicano rock music devotees and aficionados know that TIERRA actually recorded an album almost ten years before its giant “Memories” hit that, which, for the most part, contained and important message about the Chicano culture, with original music that has become the standard sound that epitomizes the indeginous East Los Angeles music style, which combines a unique blend of rock, soul, R & B, salsa and Latin Jazz.
     Well, lo and behold, a rare radio show that showcased TIERRA’s music along with other pioneers of that unique musical sound, has been discovered and it includes an interview and the music of the person who found the tape among others loaned to him by friend and former manager, Chicano music producer, Art Brambila.
     “I was simply going through some old reel to reel tapes in an old box that Art loaned me a couple of years ago, looking for material to add to my Chicano music history web site, “ said Mark Guererro, a veteran singer-songwriter who hosts a web site that probably contains more information about Chicano music artists than anyone else in the world.  
     "When I started playing this one tape, I couldn't believe what I was hearing,"Guerrero said.    
     The tape that Guerrero found contained a recording of a show on KLOS-FM radio station in Los Angeles where he was interviewed in 1972 by Joe Ortiz, Chicano talk show host pioneer, along with members of Chicano Rock band legends TIERRA and YAQUI and their manager, Art Brambila.
     “Here I sat, stunned, listening to my song I'm Brown and being interviewed on a radio show that was broadcast 40 years ago,” said Guerrero.
     After listening to the entire show, Guerrero quickly got on the phone and called Ortiz, a close friend since they met back in 1972 when he appeared on Ortiz’ television show on Channel 2, The Siesta is Over, a month before the radio interview. Guerrero also quickly called Art Brambila, who was the president of Brown Bag Productions, who produced his song as well as the first albums for TIERRA and YAQUI forty years ago. Guerrero told both Brambila and Ortiz that he would email them a copy of the show as soon as he was finished dubbing the tape into MP3 format.
     “I have many tapes of radio interviews I conducted on my shows in the mid 80’s to the 90’s, said Ortiz, “but nothing going back to the days when I first began working as a talk show host in 1971 at KABC-AM, and then the following year at its sister station, KLOS-FM. This interview that Mark discovered is like finding a golden nugget in the penny jar of Chicano rock music history.”
     Ortiz added that the few Chicano broadcasters they had back in the days before digital video and audio were too focused on taking advantage of the few media venues available to them to think about recording the historical relevance those interviews represented in the late 60’s and early 70’s. “But, obviously someone recorded that show unbeknownst to me and the guests on the show.”
     “After listening to the MP3 Mark sent me, I called him and Art and told them that they may not realize it, but that show is probably the only interview in existence where these visionary musicians were presenting the American audience with the most intelligent and profound expression of what has become an indigenous musical genre that has touched the lives of most Latinos throughout the world. “
(Mark Guerrero and Art Brambila)

     Most certainly, Brambila has always had a dream and a vision about the unique sounds he grew up with on Clover Street in the Lincoln Heights area of East Los Angeles, the same community where his nephews Rudy and Steve Salas, the founders of TIERRA, were raised, along with Eddie Serrano of YAQUI. 

(Cesar Chavez, founder of the United Farm Workers of America,
listens to songwriter Art Brambila’s lyrics of the song he wrote for
the organization called Manana is Now, circa 1976)

     “I have always known that we (Chicanos) had great talent in all areas, especially in the music field, “said Brambila, who later in his career launched a television show in the late 70’s called The Mean Salsa Machine, the first bi-lingual major market TV show on an English Speaking station, Channel 9, in Los Angeles. Brambila also excelled as a songwriter himself with a tune he penned, Mañana Is Now , for the album Si Se Puede, the 1976 charity album debut of Los Lobos, of which the proceeds from the album went towards the United Farm Workers of America.
(Original cover of TIERRA’s first album, autographed for Joe Ortiz
by the original members, which he still has in his possession)

     “When I first started managing these gifted musicians, I knew they had a unique and marketable sound that would revolutionize the recording industry,” said Brambila, who had much experience in the marketing division at Capitol Records, but little technical in studio experience, but I used that knowledge to promote these talented guys,” added Brambila. His efforts resulted in Mark Guerrero, TIERRA and YAQUI signing a contract with major labels Capitol Records, 20th Century and Playboy, respectively.
     Although Brambila’s vision was being fulfilled during those early and trying times, he knew this evolution from being mere Chicano music performers would one day not only touch the hearts of Chicano audiences throughout the southwest, but the heartfelt message about Chicanos and their culture would soon provide the predominate community with crucial and insightful messages they needed to hear.
     “When I first heard about Joe’s radio show, we contacted his producer, Luis Torres, and he booked my guys (TIERRA, YAQUI and Mark Guerrero) right away, said Brambila.”
Joe Ortiz (center) with the founders of TIERRA, the Salas Brothers (Steve on the left and Rudy far right)

     Ortiz, the first Mexican American to conduct a radio show on an English-language commercial radio station, was known best for promoting enterprising Latinos, groups and organizations on his shows.
     “When Joe told us no one had ever discussed nor had heard the history behind this unique emerging Chicano rock sound on American airwaves, little did we realize that the predominately white KLOS-FM audience, was being introduced to the Eastside Sound for the very first time,” added Brambila.
     “Mark, Art, Eddie, Steve and all the guys poured out their heart and soul that evening, providing our listeners with information they had never heard before,” said Ortiz. “The intelligent and easy to understand manner in which they conveyed the cultural nuances of Chicano rock music was like listening to music professors giving a lecture to their students at a major university.”
     Ortiz said those who listen to the tape will be moved by the phone-in callers and their intelligent questions, KLOS audience members who genuinely were captivated by the sound and wanted to know more about the music’s history and inspiration.
     While the birth of Chicano music goes back to the early 20th century, it began a unique and evolutionary transition in the late sixties, spurned by the Chicano Civil Rights movement. Besides the traditional I love you baby tunes that many Chicano musicians were playing in the late fifties and early sixties, this new and emerging Chicano rock music contained and was delivering messages in a Dylanesque motif about the lives, hopes and aspirations of Mexican Americans in the greater Los Angeles area.
(Mark Guerrero and his brother Dan chat with Bill Clinton after the President bestowed the National Medal of Arts to their father, Chicano music icon, Lalo Guerrero, at the White House)

     “Mark Guerrero’s involvement with Chicano music began right before that era, and much of his heart and soul for this genre is historical and runs deep,” said Ortiz. “It’s obvious he was influenced to a great degree by his father, Lalo Guerrero, who is recognized as the Father of Chicano music.”
     Yet, Mark developed his own unique style, which is still evolving; but he does credit Chicano Study classes at Cal State Los Angeles and his father for instilling in him unique pride in his Chicano heritage.   
     Prior to his death on March 17, 2005, Lalo Guerrero, the iconic Chicano music hero was presented the National Medal of Arts by then President Bill Clinton for a lifetime of achievements, the only Chicano to receive our nation’s highest arts award.
(Mark Guerrero singing I’m Brown

     The newly found Lost KLOS Interview with Mark Guerrero and Latino Legends starts off with Mark’s recording of I'm Brown, of which the lyrics bespeaks his passion for music, the emerging Chicano culture of that era, and its demand for respect.
(Yaqui members, left to right, Rudy Regalado, Larry Cronen, Ray Rodriguez, Eddie Serrano and Ronnie Reyes. Squatting left to right,George Ochoa and Art Sanchez)
     The tape also features YAQUI lead singer George Ochoa’s rendition of “Brown Baby” which also cries out the heart and soul of a Chicano culture indigenous to the East Los Angeles Mexican American community.  One of the group’s original tunes and one of its biggest hits (before Barack Obama capitalized on the slogan) was It's Time For a Change.
     "It's Time for a Change (Tiempo Para Un Cambio)," which shows all three artists on Brown Bag Productions, were also writing and recording socially relevant music,” said Guerrero.  “That song appeared on a compilation in the 90s called "Ay Califas- Raza Rock" (1998) and has also been recorded by Tierra on their latest CD.”
     Eddie Serrano (since passed away) left YAQUI and later became the lead singer for another famous Chicano rock group, Cannibal and the Headhunters, which gained international acclaim for their mega hit, Land of a 1000 Dances.
     The tape, which did not have the traditional introduction that normally opened Ortiz’ radio shows, also does not have a closing segment. Mark told Joe the tape was so old that parts of it were practically glued together and he didn’t want to chance destroying it by pulling it apart. Nevertheless, the tape ends with TIERRA's  original tune called Barrio Suite, a seven and a half minute musical anthology that virtually encapsulates the Chicano cultural ethos.
(Steve Salas being interview by Joe Ortiz on KLOS-FM)
     “To me, personally, Barrio Suite and I'm Brown are probably the two most profound Chicano tunes ever written,” said Brambila.    
     “Mark’s message in I'm Brown speaks of the deep-seeded feeling most Chicanos have about their community. Rudy and Steve Salas and the members of TIERRA at that time produced in Barrio Suite a seven and a half minute musical train that takes the listener on a  musical Mexican American culture journey through the barrios of East Los Angeles.”
     “These talented musicians are still going strong, after the forty intervening years, from when that unique interview show aired,” said Ortiz. “TIERRA and Mark are still the poet laureates of the Chicano experience they were back then, and very few if any new Chicano musicians, will ever duplicate their historical work.”
(Left to right, Mark Guerrero and Art Brambila, and Joe Ortiz in the background, meet at Las Fuentes Restaurant in Redlands, CA to discuss what to do with the tape) 
     Having found this rare tape, the three discussed the historical and educational significance of the show and what they wanted to do with it. They all agreed the tape represents a significant piece of Chicano rock history and that they should at least post it on their respective web sites for fans to download and hear the tape, and also send it out to as many Chicano media and web sites they could find.
     “At the least, for thousands of Chicano rock music fans who listen to this rare interview tape, it seems to me it will definitely bring back many precious memories!”
The 50 minute  KLOS-FM interview tape will also be available for those who want to hear or download the show on the Mark Guerrero web site, which also contains the most comprehensive information on the Internet about Chicano music, its birth and evolution throughout the last 50 years.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Positive Latino Images Did Not Evolve Overnight, It Took Hard Work By Many!

[Joe Ortiz, event publicist, fields reporter's questions as legendary actor Rita Moreno was presented Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame on June 15, 1995]

     There are many Latinos throughout the country who feel they are not getting the respect they deserve for their life's work. Personally, not getting respect is not as important as knowing you did the best you could with the tools you we're given,(Joe Ortiz)!                         

     Latino entrepreneurs are the largest self-employed, innovative business leader group in the country, because they are bold and adventurous. Latino legislators (albeit few in the national window) are strewn all over thousands of small cities and counties throughout the nation, biding their time and learning the power game for the future. In sports, especially in baseball, they are becoming the majority of players. In media, movies and on stage Hispanics are gaining more recognition than ever before, slowly, but steadily, but their visibility didn't evolve automatically. It took much hard work from many dedicated individuals, especially in these last 40 to 50 years!

     As I rapidly switch from channel to channel with the remote control in my hand, I’m sometimes moved almost to tears as I see more Hispanic faces on the TV screen than ever before. We still have a long way to go. Nevertheless, I marvel at the handsome and beautiful Latino faces, playing roles on various series that do not depict solely gang bangers, gardeners, maids or hookers. Latino actors like Rosalyn Sanchez, Sara Ramirez, Michael Pena, Vanessa Marcil, Adam Rodriguez, Judy Reyes and Eva Longoria (to name a few) now play leading roles as detectives, doctors, entrepreneurs, lawyers and politicians.
     It’s no accident these fine actors are playing significant and non-stereotypical roles. Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, there were hundreds of Hispanics in the front lines doing battle with executives of the television, radio and motion picture industries to open their once closed doors. 
     In those days, there were virtually no Hispanic images Latinos could look up to. Yes, Desi Arnaz of I Love Lucy fame was visible; however, what wasn’t known was many Hispanics had to anglicize their names to enter the arena, such as Margarita Canseco, Anthony Rudolph Oaxaca and Luis Antonio Damaso De Alonso - better known as Rita Hayworth, Anthony Quinn and Gilbert Roland, respectively. 
     Yes there were a few back then who made us proud as we witnessed stars like Rita Moreno, Ricardo Montalban and Cesar Romero, who were the most notable of great actors with a Spanish surname.
     Unknown to many in the Hispanic population, as well as the current faces we see on television and the movies now, there existed a vanguard of Hispanic warriors that were struggling to open the ways for positive Latino images. What they contributed to this movement may not appear as significant as those who today are reaping much glory and fame, but their building-block efforts lay a prolific foundation that has to be remembered.     In television news, especially in Southern California, early broadcasting pioneers such as Pete Moraga, who decades ago distinguished himself as a journalist in the international stage, ended his career in Los Angeles in the late 1990's, as did David Garcia. 
     Locally Bob Navarro had a legendary career for over 30 years in Los Angeles, (who in 1967, as a young high school dropout who grew up near USC), landed one of the most sought-after jobs around: a news writer at then-KNXT-TV Channel 2 on "The Big News," considered by many to be the premier local TV newscast in the country.    
     Then followed other Latino journalism pioneers such as Frank Cruz, Joe Ramirez, Frank Sotomayor, Joel Garcia, Henry Alfaro, Yolanda Nava (the first Latina journalist), Luis Torres and Diana Munatones, who were a few of the media gladiators who fell on the barbed wire fences of Los Angeles’ media institutions, providing a new generation of Latino actors, newscasters and television personalities the opportunity to piggy-back on their achievements and move into those arenas. 
     Public service program hosts, such as Fernando Del Rio, Ray Gonzales, Alicia Sandoval, Mario Machado and Linda Alvarez (who is still reporting the news at CBS), also laid their heart and soul to the current foundation.     There were but a handful of Latino print and broadcast news folk back in the early 70’s. One of the founders of the California Chicano News Media Association, Frank Del Olmo, took the Latino journalism baton from the slain journalist, Ruben Salazar, who was killed by a LA Sheriff’s Deputy during the Chicano Moratorium march in East LA on August 29, 1971. Del Olmo (now deceased) wrote thousands of articles and commentaries about Latinos for 33 years at the Los Angeles Times. 
     The Godfather of Chicano journalism teachers, Professor Felix Gutierrez, has quietly prepared thousands of Latino journalists at USC’ School of Journalism throughout his tenured career. Other print medium pioneers that helped shape positive images of not only actors, politicians and community leaders as well, include Dolores and Jonathon Sanchez of Eastern Group Publications, and one of its finest writers, Rose Soto.     There were also many advocacy groups that helped pry the door open for positive Latino images. Beginning with Ray Andrade’s JUSTICIA organization, many others followed the quest of opening doors to Latinos in the motion picture and television industry including renowned Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban, who founded NOSTROS (Us) in 1970 to improve the image of Hispanic actors. Other groups such as IMAGEN (founded by Helen Hernandez), Bi-Lingual Foundation of The Arts (founded by actress Carmen Zapata) and the National Hispanic Media Coalition, (founded by Alex Nogales and Esther Renteria), have played more than a significant role in their quest for positive Latino images.     In motion pictures, Moctesuma Esparza has made more than a significant impact on the Latino image, a filmmaker whose credits include Gettysburg, The Milagro Beanfield War and Selena, which featured Edward James Olmos, a Latino media icon himself. Luis Valdez’ movies Zoot Suit and La Bamba (featuring Esai Morales and Lou Diamond Philips) are now cult films if not legendary. Jesus Trevino, a film maker who documented much of the Latino struggle during the Chicano Movement era now directs many of today’s network television shows, some featuring the Latino stars of today. There are many Latinos who have contributed and impacted greatly to the film genre, including screen writer Frank Zuniga and casting director Robert "Blackie" Morones, among others.     Each and every one of these individuals mentioned, as well as many others too numerous to include, may not be household names to the current crop of Latino actors and broadcasters. But each, in their own unique fashion, played a significant role in shaping the positive Latino images we see today. Those who contributed to this valiant cause and who played unique roles in that struggle, seek no reward or recognition for their efforts. They merely ask that the new guard conduct themselves with the same dedication, dignity and honor we displayed during our respective struggles.
[This article was initially written and posted on Joe Ortiz' blog on October 2009]

Joe Ortiz has the distinction of being the first Mexican American to host an English-language talk show on a commercial radio station (KABC Talk Radio, 1971). He is the author of The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation (Author House) two books that refute the Left Behind theories and many right-wing evangelical doctrines. He lives in Redlands and writes for several local and national periodicals. For more information, visit Joe’s web site: The End Times Passover

The following photos represent a small selection of the hundreds and thousands of individuals, groups, community organizations, Latino media and entertainment icons who fought to open doors of opportunities for Latinos in the communications industry in the last 4 to 5 decades. And many more battles loom in the horizon, our work is not complete. To see another 250 or so photos, log in to the PHOTO GALLERY at Joe Ortiz Associates

Producer Benjamin Esparza and Chicano music icon Lalo Guerrero

Music Ethnomusicologist Phillip Sonnichsen and radio pioneer and salsa promoter Chico Sesma.

Emmy Award-winning talk show host, actor, writer and comedian, Cris Franco (photo by Joe Ortiz)

Actors Evelyn Guerrero and Carmen Zapata with friends

Journalist/actress/public information officer Diana Munatones

Frank Del Olmo, nationally acclaimed Latino Journalist and co-founder of the National California Chicano News Media Association

Nationally acclaimed Latino director, Jesús Treviño, as a pachuco during production of Yo Soy Chicano.
Comedian pioneer Hank Garcia
Nationally renowned artist Ignacio Gomez and Latino rock music pioneer, songwriter, performer and Historian, Mark Guerrero
Producer, Director, Performer, Dan Guerrero
Actor Dyanna Ortelli and producer Nancy de los Santos
The most prolific and highly acclaimed Latino Filmmaker in the United States, Moctesuma Esparza

Newspaper publishing pioneer and founder of La Opinion, Ignacio Lozano
Media and community affairs specialists Rose Soto, Dolores Sanchez, Robert Alaniz, Giselle Acevedo, Victor Franco, Alycia Enciso, Minerva Perez (photo by Joe Ortiz)
Latino journalism pioneer Pete Moraga and renowned actor Edward James Olmos (photo by Joe Ortiz Associates)
Community Services pioneer Dionicio Morales and legendary actors Ricardo Montalban and Anthony Quinn.

Acclaimed Latino Journalist Ruben Salazar

Legendary professional football quarterbacks and twice Super Bowl Champions, Jim Plunkett and former quarterback and four Super Bowl ring-bearing NFL Coach, Tom Flores.
Latino media guru and entrepreneur Pete Moraga Jr. and acclaimed space planner and designer Alycia Enciso (photo by Joe Ortiz)

Latina actor and singer Liz Navar and actor Irma Garcia
(photo by Joe Ortiz Associates)

Legendary Latino filmmaker Luiz Valdez (Zoot Suit, La Bamba) with brother, acclaimed singer/composer/actor Daniel Valdez, co-founders with Augustine Lira of El Teatro Campesino

Latino demographer and physician Dr. David Hayes-Bautista

Actor Esai Morales, community servant Magdalena Duran and public affairs expert Victor M. Franco (photo by Joe OrtizAssociates)

Legendary Latino country music performer Freddy Fender

              Legendary Latino actor-comedian-artist Cheech Marin

Veteran performers and former NOSOTROS leaders, singer Mark Allen Trujillo and actor-singer Richard Yniguez

Freddie Sanchez, El Chicano

Latino community activists Rosalio Munoz and David Sanchez
(photo by Joe Ortiz Associates)

Actor/comedian Paul Rodriguez

Legendary multiple award-winning actress and Latina actor icon, Rita Moreno (photo by Joe Ortiz Associates)

Yolanda Nava, first Latina journalist

Latina Journalist and news anchor, Linda Alvarez

Character actor Marco Rodriguez

Latino Journalism pioneers Frank Cruz and Dolores Sanchez

Community activists and market pioneers Joe and Laura Balverde-Sanchez

Radio Traffic Reporter Pioneer Jorge Jarrin

Radio TV Talk Show Host pioneer Mary Helen Barro

Community activists and educator, Salvador Castro

Latino Rock Music pioneers Steve and Rudy Salas (The Salas Brothers and TIERRA)

Legendary Latino Rock Pioneers, TIERRA

Acclaimed Latino Actor Henry Darrow

Community activist and Salsa radio broadcast pioneer, Tony Salazar

Journalism and public affairs broadcasting pioneers Fernando Del Rio and Mario Machado

Nationally renowned Latino Muralist and musician Willie Herron

Former Rock critic for the Daily News and Latin Publications pioneer, Victor Field

Jazz and Music Pioneer Eddie Cano

East Los Angeles College Students and Faculty throughout the years! (Drawing by Ignacio Gomez)

Community and Elected Leaders Gloria Molina and Dionicio Morales

The Latin Business Association, Throughout the Years!

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Esther Renteria, public information specialist, co-founder of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, associate producer for Latino television show (in the English-language) BIENVENIDOS on KCBS Television.

Hollenbeck Police Business Council and its annual Spring Celebrity Festival, featuring seasoned and emerging Latino performers.(photo by Joe Ortiz)

Legal minds, community and government leaders, Percy Duran, Esq., Ana Barbosa and Alberto Juarez, Jr. (photo by Joe Ortiz)

To Rodri Rodriguez and every Mariachi group to ever to perform in the greater Los Angeles community throughout history.

Rose Soto, Journalist at Eastern Group Publications and blogger of “Coast2Coast.”

Of course, a lot of community pressure helped

....and tons of Latino ingenuity! God Bless Them All!


nilki benitezsaid...
Oh, Fabulous, Joe! What a gem of a photo album! Thank you for sharing.
Brenda Herrerasaid...
What a great walk down media images memory lane. Thank you. I would like to throw in Latin Heat Entertainment into the mix which was and is the only entertainment trade publication which is focused on Latinos in Hollywood and all media. Established in 1992 it continues to carry out its mission on the web now www.latinheat.com

Post a Comment