Guerrero, Eduardo, Jr. 1916–2005

views updated

GUERRERO, Eduardo, Jr. 1916–2005

(Lalo Guerrero)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born December 24, 1916, in Tucson, AZ; died March 17, 2005, in Palm Springs, CA. Musician, composer, and author. Widely known as the "Father of Chicano Music," Guerrero composed and performed a unique blend of Mexican and American styles that gained him recognition as an award-winning musical innovator. Born into a large family in the Barrio Viejo neighborhood of Tucson that was later torn down to make way for a convention center (the subject of his song "Barrio Viejo"), Guerrero's love of music originated with his mother, who taught him to play the guitar and sing. As with many Mexican Americans, he struggled with a cultural identity that found him being rejected in Mexico by those who felt his music was too American as well as in America, for the opposite reason. Eventually, Guerrero—who went by the nickname Lalo—discovereda happy medium by blending a wide variety of styles that ranged from swing music to mambos and boleros. At times, he even ventured into children's music, recording an album reminiscent of the Chipmunks called Las Ardillitas de Lalo Guerrero (Lalo's Little Squirrels), and comedy, such as the parody songs "Mexican Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Bus Boys" and "Pancho Lopez." By the 1970s, Guerrero was widely known for his innovative music that celebrated Chicano life, and his songs were prominently featured in the 1977 musical Zoot Suit. For his contributions to music, he became the first Chicano to be honored by the U.S. President with a National Medal of the Arts, which he earned in 1996; he also was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mexican Cultural Institute and inducted into the Tejano Hall of Fame. Guerrero, who was suffering from prostate cancer at the time of his death, recorded many of his life's experiences in the biography Lalo: My Life and Music (2002). His life was also the planned subject of a documentary film titled Lalo Guerrero: The Original Chicano.



Guerrero, Lalo, and Sherilyn Mentes, Lalo: My Life and Music, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 2002.


Chicago Tribune, March 20, 2005, section 4, p. 9.

Los Angeles Times, March 18, 2005, p. B10.

New York Times, March 19, 2005, p. B12.

Times (London, England), March 28, 2005, p.48.

Washington Post, March 26, 2005, p. B6.