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Lobos, Los

Los Lobos

Folk/rock group

Small Time Band

Taking Off

Doing What It Takes

Selected discography

Sources

When the roots-rock revival of the early 1980s appeared, Los Lobos would probably have been picked as the least likely to succeed. While bands like the Stray Cats and the Fabulous Thunderbirds stuck mainly to one genre, Los Lobos took on a bigger challenge by combining country swing, rock n roll, Mexican nortena, rhythm and blues, and the blues. It may sound like an impossible repertoire to pull off, but the five-piece unit from East Los Angeles shifts between these various influences effortlessly. As their producer T-Bone Burnette pointed out in Musician, in order to survive and retain their uniqueness, the band must maintain a certain musical balance. Theres a danger, because Los Lobos began by playing nortena music, of turning into a novelty or of going so far away that it becomes just another hard rock band.

The four original members, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louie Perez, and Conrad Lozano (Steve Berlin joined around 1983), had known each other since their high school days and grew up in basically the same neighborhood. Up until 1973, they had all played in various top 40 bands. Realizing that just regurgitating current popular songs was not what any of them wanted to do, they decided to explore their Mexican roots and learn the folk songs they were raised on but had never paid much attention to. We were just rock and roll musicians, and we discovered this stuff, Perez told Guitar Player. All of a sudden it was like we lifted a rock and there was this incredible life that was teeming under it.

They began by collecting as many of the old recordings as they could find and then dissecting each one in order to play it properly. Their skills were tested on many instruments that they had never played before as they gathered in backyards to learn tunes by artists like Miguel Aveces Mejia from the late 1950s. They started playing at parties, weddings and other small events before landing their first full-time gig in 1978 at an Orange County Mexican restaurant. It wasnt even a real Mexican restaurant, Rosas said in Guitar World. One of those tourist joints. We were working there because we had come to a point where we had to either make more money from music or find other jobs; some of us had gotten married, and we werent kids anymore.

Small Time Band

For their first eight years, Los Lobos was an allacoustic group playing only traditional music. They had accumulated over 30 different instruments but it took a UCLA student, Art Gerst, who was a fanatic for Mexican music, to set them straight on the proper and authentic techniques to use. He told us he liked the spirit we had in our playing, Hidalgo told Harold Steinblatt in Guitar World. Unfortunately, he also said that we were playing completely incorrectly. After that was straightened out, the band began to incorporate some

For the Record

Members include Steve Berlin (born on September 11, 1955, in Philadelphia, PA; formerly of the Blasters; joined group, 1984), saxophone, harmonica, vocals; David Hidalgo (born on October 4, 1954, in Los Angeles, CA), guitar, accordion, violin, vocals; Conrad Lozano (born in 1952 in Los Angeles, CA), bass, guitarron, vocals; Louie Perez (born Louis F. Perez, Jr.), drums, guitar, vocals; Cesar Rosas (born on September 26, 1954, in Hermosillo, Mexico), guitar, bajo sexto, mandolin, vihuela, vocals.

Group name means The Wolves in English; group formed in Los Angeles, CA, to perform Mexican folk music, 1973; performed as an all-acoustic band, 1973-81; as acousto-electric band, 1981; released first major album, How Will the Wolf Survive?, 1984; had cross over hit with La Bamba, 1987; returned after two-year hiatus with The Neighborhood, 1990; went experimental with Kiko, 1992; released career retrospective, Just Another Band From East L.A.: A Collection, 1993; released childrens album Papas Dream, 1995; released Colossal Head, 1996, This Time, 1999, and a reissue of their 1978 independent release, Del Este de Los Angeles, 2000; have also contributed to film sound-tracks for Desperado, From Dusk Til Dawn, and Feeling Minnesota.

Awards: Grammy Awards, Best Mexican/American Performance for Anselma, 1983; Best Mexican-American Performance for La Pistola Y El Corazon, 1989; Best Pop Instrumental Performance for Mariachi Suite, 1995; selected Band of the Year and Best New Artist, Rolling Stone critics poll, 1986; Billboard Latin Music Awards, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2001.

Addresses: Record company Mammoth Records, 99 Hudson St., 8th Floor, New York, NY 10013, (212) 925-0331.

Tex-Mex instruments, like the accordion, and songs from Flaco Jimenez, Jacito Gartito, Los Piuquenes del Norte, and Los Alegres de Tiran. As their influences broadened, so did their arsenal of equipment and before long they were pulling out their electric guitars and amplifiers. Their two-year stint at the restaurant ended when the owner complained about their loudness. That incident was repeated shortly after at another restaurant when they played Creams version of the old blues number, Crossroads.

They had earlier recorded an album, Just Another Band From East L.A., on a very limited budget, but it got them nowhere. With so many different influences between them, they decided to try and put together some originals. We started writing songs to satisfy our need to play something in between, something that belonged to us, Perez stated in Down Beat. They sent a tape of songs to Phil Alvin, leader of another roots band that was gaining notoriety in L.A., the Blasters. Alvin was impressed enough to have Los Lobos open for them at the Whiskey nightclub in Hollywood and convinced his own label, Slash, to sign them. Suddenly, with a record contract under their belts, what had started out as a hobby and a labor of love was now much more serious. We never thought that we might get gigs out of this, we just enjoyed what we were doing, Lozano told Musician. But then we started getting TV coverage, and Chicano awareness began happening, and suddenly it turned out we had a lot of input, a lot of influence over people because of this music.

Taking Off

They released a seven-song EP, And A Time To Dance, in 1983 to critical raves. Produced by Burnette and Blasters saxman Steve Berlin, the record was just the beginning of Los Lobos muscle-flexing. Dan Forte wrote in Guitar Player that the group displayed almost an overabundance of confidence. Their Grammy Award for Best Mexican-American Song for Anselma convinced those who doubted their authenticity.

Their follow-up LP, By The Light of the Moon, showed them expanding even more. Not only was the musicianship superb, but the songwriting also belonged in a class of its own, moving beyond mere lyrics to social commentary. The portraits that merge are arresting as much for their diversity as for the appalling waste of human potential they illustrate time and again, wrote Gene Santoro in Down Beat. Los Lobos have brought their rich musical hybrid into the mainstreamwith a vengeance.

In 1987, Los Lobos was the centerpiece of the sound-track to the movie La Bamba. They were able to recreate, and sometimes outdo, the original recordings of the late Richie Valens. Their version of the title track reached the American top 10 and helped to secure an even larger audience for the group. With record sales beyond the wildest expectations of both Los Lobos and Slash, the band now had the clout to do what only a few artistssuch as Bruce Springsteen with Nebraska are capable of accomplishing.

In 1989, they released La Pistola y El Corazon, an album consisting solely of the type of folk songs that they began with some 15 years earlier. We talked about doing something like this since the day we signed a deal with the company, to take this music and record it properly, said Hidalgo in Guitar World. As Harold Steinblatt stated in the same issue, The record is no gimmick it is a stunning personal statement of musical faith by a band at the height of its creative powers. Powers which have not gone unnoticed by other artists either, like Ry Cooder and Paul Simon, who have tapped Los Lobos talents for various projects of their own.

After La Pistol y El Corazon, Los Lobos took two years off. They came back with the 1990 release, The Neighborhood, which garnered good reviews. 1992s Kiko was experimental whereas Neighborhood was rock n roll and all electric. At this point, Hidalgo and Perez released Latin Playboys as the splinter group Latin Playboys. Then came the childrens album, Papas Dream. In 1996, they released Colossal Head while doing a spattering of movie soundtracks here and there, including Desperado, From Dusk Til Dawn, The Mambo Kings, and Feeling Minnesota. In 1999, Los Lobos released their Hollywood Records debut, This Time.

Doing What It Takes

Instead of hiring additional musicians for the different instruments, the four members split the chores among themselves. Perez, who along with Hidalgo is the groups chief songwriter, had begun playing drums only years after he joined the group. He was originally a guitarist, picking up the instrument when he was 12 and continuing to play throughout various rock bands. In his mid-twenties he was elected band drummer when Los Lobos began to go electric. We couldnt see bringing anybody new into the band. And when we got into the Tex-Mex format, which had drums, I just sort of fell into that, he explained to Guitar Player.

Bassist Lozano began playing British Invasion rock n roll when he was 16. Before joining Los Lobos, he played in another L.A. band, Tierra, which had a hit single with Together. After juggling his time between the two bands, Lozano decided to become a full-time member of Los Lobos in 1973, about six weeks after the group had formed. He plays both the electric and acoustic bass in addition to the guitarron and providing vocals.

Basically self-taught, Rosas took some lessons early on guitar, in order to learn a bit about theory and chord work. With influences like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and the blues KingsAlbert, B.B., and FreddieRosas provides the crunch for Los Lobos. In addition to guitar, he also plays the bajo sexto, mandolin, and the vihuela, and his vocals offer a distinctly rough contrast to Hidalgos.

You have to understand, the band does work and evolve around David, Lozano said of Hidalgo in Musician. His playing is so strong; his talent is still being tapped. A musicians musician, Hidalgo began his musical career as a drummer in the early 1970s, playing in a Christian rock band. He had already been playing guitar since he was eleven, growing up on the standard rock influences like Chuck Berry and the Ventures. However, Hidalgo expanded into more sophisticated areas and began to absorb the work of guitarists like Les Paul, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Merle Travis and others like Hank Williams and the Hawaiian lap-steel players. His capabilities extend from guitar and violin to accordion and drums. There are certain things you can only do on certain instruments, he told Guitar Player. Its just that I wanted to hear those sounds, and nobody in the group played them, so I figured Id try.

Steve Berlin joined the group after working on their EP. His full tenor and baritone saxophones add another dimension to Los Lobos sound, as on the 1950s-styled party tune I Got Loaded. It got silly trying to do both the Blasters and Los Lobos, and since I got to play so much more with Los Lobos, it was more fulfilling, he told Down Beat. Berlin also co-produced their first LP, How Will The Wolf Survive? and continues to do production work for other bands in Seattle.

Whoever has the best handle on it takes it. Hidalgo said in Guitar Player to Art Thompson and Andy Ellis, about the way the band approaches their music. Because when were in the studio, we try to keep things moving. Theres no ego thing. Its like, Oh, you got it down? Just do it. Keep the ball rolling, so we never get in a rut. Thats the way we work. Another part of the magic of Los Lobos is that every song the group does covers different territory, from Tex-Mex polkas to New Orleans rhythm and blues. As Perez pointed out in Guitar Player, the group defies categorization. As far as this band is concerned, coming from a diverse background and diverse musicianship, I think it would be unfair to stick us under one label.

Selected discography

Del Este de Los Angeles (independent release), 1978; reissued, Hollywood, 2000.

And A Time to Dance (EP), Slash/Warner Bros., 1983.

How Will the Wolf Survive?, Slash/Warner Bros., 1984.

By the Light of the Moon, Slash/Warner Bros., 1987.

La Bamba: The Original Soundtrack, Slash/Warner Bros., 1987.

La Pistola y El Corazon, Slash/Warner Bros., 1988.

The Neighborhood, Slash/Warner Bros., 1990.

(Contributor) The Mambo Kings (soundtrack), Asylum, 1991.

Kiko, Slash/Warner Bros., 1992.

Just Another Band from East L.A.: A Collection, Slash/Warner Bros., 1993.

Papas Dream (childrens album), Music for Little People, 1995.

(Contributor) Desperado (soundtrack), Epic/Sony, 1995.

Colossal Head, Warner Bros., 1996.

(Contributor) From Dusk Til Dawn (soundtrack), Sony, 1996.

(Contributor) Feeling Minnesota (soundtrack), Atlantic, 1996.

This Time, Hollywood, 1999.

El Cancionero Mas y Mas: A History of the Band from East L.A., Rhino, 2000.

Sources

Periodicals

Down Beat, May 1984; February 1985; April 1985; April 1987.

Guitar Player, March 1984; May 1984; January 1985; February 1987; October 1987; December 1988; July 1995; October 1996.

Guitar World, September 1986; February 1989.

Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, September 28, 1993; May 15, 1996.

Musician, April 1987.

Online

Grammy.com, http://www.grammy.com (February 4, 2002).

Los Lobos,All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (February 4, 2002).

Los Lobos,RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com (February 4, 2002).

Calen D. Stone

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Lobos, Los

LOS LOBOS

Formed: 1973, Los Angeles, California

Members: Steven "Steve" Berlin, saxophone, keyboards (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 September, 1955); David Hidalgo, lead vocals, guitar (born Los Angeles, California, 6 October 1954); Conrad Lozano, bass, vocals (born Los Angeles, California, 21 March 1951); Luis "Louie" Pérez, drums, guitar, vocals (born Los Angeles, California, 29 January 1953); Cesar Rosas, lead vocals, guitar (born Los Angeles, California, 26 September 1954).

Genre: Rock, World

Best-selling album since 1990: Good Morning Aztlán (1990)

Los Lobos is the most innovative and successful band to have combined elements of rock music with the traditional folk music of Mexico. The band came out of East Los Angeles, a center of Hispanic culture for decades. Ritchie Valens was the first East L.A. artist to become nationally known, but he was killed at the height of his popularity along with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper in a 1959 plane crash that would be memorialized by Don McLean's "American Pie" as "the day the music died." Ironically, it took a film about Valens's brief career, La Bamba (1987), to bring Los Lobos into mainstream prominence with the number one hit single "La Bamba"despite the fact that the group had been together almost a decade and a half prior to their smash number one hit version of the movie's title track. The single's extraordinary success exceeded Valens's original, which had only reached number twenty-two in 1958.

Rock Roots and Mexican Influence

The founding members of the groupDavid Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, and Louie Pérezmet in the late 1960s while attending Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. The earliest group musical efforts were based in the sound and approach of the British Invasion, complete with electric guitars. By the early 1970s the quartet had gone acoustic and become interested in performing norteño, the traditional folk music of Northern Mexico. Incorporating traditional instruments such as the bajo sexto, the guitarrón, the jaran requinto and the button accordion, the quartet dubbed itself Los Lobos del Este (de Los Angeles) ("The Wolves of the East [Los Angeles]") in a satirical nod to the Tex-Mex band Los Lobos del Norte ("The Wolves of the North.") They were in the unique position of bridging both sides of the Hispanic generation gap by appealing to both older audiences seeking to recapture their Mexican heritage and younger audiences in search of cultural roots and identity.

Although Los Lobos had appeared on the compilation album Sí Se Puede (Yes, It Can Be Done ) (1976), it was the group's own independently produced Del Este De Los Angeles (1978) that became the group's first recorded statement of purpose. Each of the album's eleven tracks highlights the folk music of a different region of Mexico. The title is a whimsical wink to an album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Just Another Band from L.A. (1972). By the late 1970s the group began to reelectrify and reincorporate elements of the rock music that the band had played together as teenagers. Los Lobos was soon playing up and down the Sunset Strip, and they were asked to record a Spanish-language version of "Devil with a Blue Dress On" for the cult comedy film Eating Raoul (1982). That soundtrack also features the group's original "How Much Can I Do?"

Saxophonist and percussionist Steve Berlin of the Blasters was so taken with Los Lobos that he joined up as a fifth member in 1983. Berlin also co-produced the group's album . . . And a Time to Dance (1983), which features the group's Grammy Awardwinning track "Anselma." The band's first full-length album for the new Warner Bros. Slash label, How Will the Wolf Survive? (1984), was a huge critical success, if not a commercial one; Los Lobos tied with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for the Rolling Stone critics' poll "Band of the Year" award.

By the mid-1980s, Los Lobos had become an underground sensation. Appearances in Europe as part of Peter Gabriel's WOMAD (World of Music of Dance) Festival and on Paul Simon's smash album Graceland (1986) contributed to their 1987 emergence into the mainstream in La Bamba. In defiance of its newfound success, the group decided to return to an acoustic emphasis with the album La Pistola y El Corazón (The Pistol and the Heart) (1988), reestablishing the group's identity as emissaries of traditional Mexican folk music and winning Los Lobos its second Grammy Award.

Finding a Group Voice with Kiko

The early 1990s saw Los Lobos going electric again with The Neighborhood (1990) and Kiko (1992), the latter the most experimental of the band's albums to date and generally considered to be the group's masterpiece. Under the careful ears of producer Mitchell Froom and engineer Tchad Blake, Kiko epitomizes Los Lobos' uncanny ability to take diverse and seemingly irreconcilable influences and combine them into something truly new, exciting, and forward-looking. The Hidalgo-Pérez songwriting team had evolved to an extraordinary degree by Kiko ; the lyrics reflect the dreamlike influence of the Latin magic-realist writers Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Márquez; the band's arrangements are adventure-some and ethereal sonic collages. Kiko was chosen "Album of the Year" by many critics and remains an influential album across musical boundaries.

The hallucinatory freedom of Kiko inspired Hidalgo, Pérez, Froom, and Blake to continue to work together outside of the Los Lobos moniker as the Latin Playboys and to release the much-heralded Latin Playboys (1994) and Dose (1999). Hidalgo and Rosas also formed Los Super Seven to collaborate in summit sessions with other Latin artists on the Grammy Awardwinning Los Super Seven (1998) and Canto (2001).

With the album This Time (1999) the band reunited with the Kiko producer and engineer team of Froom and Blake, and brought considerable acclaim to Hollywood Records, which finally reissued the group's long out-of-print, self-produced debut album. The legendary producer John Leckie (his client roster includes the Beatles individually, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and XTC) came aboard to produce Los Lobos' Mammoth Records release Good Morning Aztlán (2002). Neither exclusively traditional acoustic Mexican folk music nor experimental, Latin-flavored, blues-tinged electric rock, the album straddles these polarities with ease on studio tracks and live bonus cuts.

Los Lobos has continued to contribute to major Hollywood soundtracks, including Desperado (1995), which won Los Lobos its third Grammy Award, From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Feeling Minnesota (1996), and The Mambo Kings (2000). The group also received El Primio Billboard, a lifetime achievement award, at the 2001 Billboard Latin Music Awards, where Los Lobos was honored as the most enduring bicultural and bilingual band in the nation.

Having been together for over three decades, Los Lobos remains a fresh experience for both its members and audiences largely because the group is able to maintain the same spontaneity that it had when the group was playing neighborhood parties back in East Los Angeles. Indeed, for many, Los Lobos continues to embody the spirit of the rock and roll party band, albeit the thinking person's rock and roll party band.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

How Will the Wolf Survive? (Warner Bros., 1984); By the Light of the Silvery Moon (Warner Bros., 1987); La Pistola y El Corazón (Warner Bros., 1988); The Neighborhood (Warner Bros., 1990); Kiko (Warner Bros., 1992); Colossal Head (Warner Bros., 1996); This Time (Hollywood Records, 1999); Del Este De Los Angeles (Hollywood, 2000 re-release); El Cancionero: Mas e Mas (Rhino, 2000); Good Morning Aztlán (Mammoth, 2002). With the Chieftains: Santiago (RCA, 1996). With Lalo Guerrero: Papa's Dream (Music Little People, 1995). Soundtracks: La Bamba (Warner Bros., 1987); Desperado (Sony, 1995); From Dusk till Dawn (Sony, 1996); Feeling Minnesota (Atlantic, 1996); The Mambo Kings (Sony, 2000).

WEBSITE:

www.loslobos.org.

dennis polkow

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Los Lobos

Los Lobos

Mexican-American roots/rock band

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

When the roots-rock revival of the early 1980s appeared, Los Lobos would probably have been picked as the least likely to succeed. While bands like the Stray Cats and the Fabulous Thunderbirds stuck mainly to one genre, Los Lobos took on a bigger challenge by combining country swing, rock & roll, Mexican nortena, rhythm and blues, and the blues. It may sound like an impossible repetoire to pull off, but the five-piece unit from East Los Angeles shifts between their various influences effortlessly. As their producer T-Bone Burnette pointed out in Musician, in order to survive and retain their uniqueness, the band must maintain a certain musical balance. Theres a danger, because Los Lobos began by playing nortena music, of turning into a novelty or of going so far away that it becomes just another hard rock band.

The four original members, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louie Perez, and Conrad Lozano (Steve Berlin joined around 1983), had known each other since their high school days and grew up in basically the same neighborhood. Up until 1973, they had all played in various

For the Record

Group name means The Wolves in English; group formed in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1973 to perform Mexican folk music; original members includeDavid Hidalgo (guitar, accordian, violin, and vocals),Cesar Rosas (guitar, bajo sexto, mandolin, vihuela, and vocals),Conrad Lozano (bass, guitarron, and vocals), andLouie Perez (drums, guitar, and vocals);Steve Berlin (saxophone, harmonica, and vocals) joined group c. 1983; performed as an all-acoustic band, 1973-81, and as acousto-electric band, 1981.

Awards: Grammy Awards for best Mexican/American performance, 1983, for song Anselma ; selected band of the year and best new artist in 1986 Rolling Stone critics poll.

Addresses: Agent The Rosebud Agency, P.O. Box 210103, San Francisco, CA 94121.

Top 40 bands. Realizing that just regurgitating current popular songs was not what any of them wanted to do, they decided to explore their Mexican roots and learn the folk songs they were raised on but had never paid much attention to. We were just rock and roll musicians, and we discovered this stuff, Perez told Guitar Player. All of a sudden it was like we lifted a rock and there was this incredible life that was teeming under it.

They began by collecting as many of the old recordings as they could find and then dissecting each one in order to play it properly. Their skills were tested on many instruments that they had never even played before as they gathered in backyards to learn tunes by artists like Miguel Aveces Mejia from the late 1950s. They started playing at parties, weddings and other small events before landing their first full-time gig in 1978 at an Orange County Mexican restaurant. It wasnt even a real Mexican restaurant, Rosas said in Guitar World. One of those tourist joints. We were working there because we had come to a point where we had to either make more money from music or find other jobs; some of us had gotten married, and we werent kids anymore.

For their first eight years, Los Lobos was an all-acoustic group playing only traditional music. They had accumulated over thirty different instruments but it took a UCLA student, Art Gerst, who was a fanatic for Mexican music, to set them straight on the proper and authentic techniques to use. He told us he liked the spirit we had in our playing, Hidalgo told Harold Steinblatt in Guitar World. Unfortunately, he also said that we were playing completely incorrectly. After that was straightened out, the band began to incorporate some Tex-Mex instruments, like the accordion, and songs from Flaco Jimenez, Jacito Gartito, Los Piuquenes del Norte, and Los Alegres de Tiran. As their influences broadened, so did their arsenal of equipment and before long they were pulling out their electirc guitars and amplifiers. Their two-year stint at the restaurant ended when the owner complained about their loudness. That incident was repeated shortly after at another restaurant when they played Creams version of the old blues number, Crossroads.

They had earlier recorded an album, Just Another Band From East L. A., on a very limited budget, but it got them nowhere. With so many different influences between them, they decided to try and put together some originals. We started writing songs to satisfy our need to play something in between, something that belonged to us, Perez stated in down beat. They sent a tape of songs to Phil Alvin, leader of another roots band that was gaining noteriety in L.A., the Blasters. Alvin was impressed enough to have Los Lobos open for them at the Whiskey nightclub in Hollywood and convinced his own label, Slash, to sign them. Suddenly, with a record contract under their belts, what had started out as a hobby and a labor of love was now much more serious. We never thought that we might get gigs out of this, we just enjoyed what we were doing, Lozano told Musician. But then we started getting TV coverage, and Chicano awareness began happening, and suddenly it turned out we had a lot of input, a lot of influence over people because of this music.

They released a seven-song EP, And A Time To Dance, in 1983 to critical raves. Produced by Burnette and Blasters saxman Steve Berlin, the record was just the beginning of Los Lobos muscle-flexing. Dan Forte wrote in Guitar Player that the group displayed almost an overabundance of confidence. Their Grammy Award for Best Mexican-American song for Anselma convinced anyone who doubted their authenticity.

Their range of musicianship was astonishing. Instead of hiring additional musicians for the different instruments, the four members split the chores among themselves. Perez, who along with Hidalgo is the groups chief songwriter, had begun playing drums only years after he joined the group. He was originally a guitarist, picking up the instrument when he was twelve and continuing to play throughout various rock bands. In his mid-twenties he was elected band drummer when Los Lobos began to go electric. We couldnt see bringing anybody new into the band. And when we got into the Tex-Mex format, which had drums, I just sort of fell into that, he explained to Guitar Player. He continues, however, to add acoustic guitar for their recordings and in concert.

Bassist Lozano began playing British Invasion rock & roll when he was sixteen. Before joining Los Lobos, he played in another L.A. band, Tierra, who had a hit single with Together. After juggling his time between the two bands, Lozano decided to become a full-time member of Los Lobos in 1973, about six weeks after the group had formed. He plays both the electric and acoustic bass in addition to the guitarrón and vocal chores.

Rosas is from Sonora, Mexico and emigrated to L.A. with his family when he was seven. Although he had dabbled with the guitar previously, it wasnt until high school that he began to get serious. Basically self-taught, Rosas took some lessons early on in order to learn a bit about theory and chord work. With influences like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and the blues Kings (Albert, B.B., and Freddie), Rosas provides the crunch for Los Lobos. In addition to guitar, he also plays the bajo sexto, mandolin, and the vihuela, and his vocals offer a distinctly rough contrast to Hidalgos.

You have to understand, the band does work and evolve around David, Lozano said of Hidalgo in Musician. His playing is so strong; his talent is still being tapped. A musicians musician, Hidalgo began his musical career as a drummer in the early 1970s, playing in a Christian rock band. He had already been playing guitar since he was 11, growing up on the standard rock influences like Chuck Berry and the Ventures. However, Hidalgo expanded into more sophisticated areas and began to absorb the work of guitarists like Les Paul, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Merle Travis and others like Hank Williams and the Hawaiian lap-steel players. His capabilities extend from guitar and violin to accordion and drums. There are certain things you can only do on certain instruments, he told Guitar Player. Its just that I wanted to hear those sounds, and nobody in the group played them, so I figured Id try. In addition, Hidalgos vocals provide the central figure to Los Lobos sound and create great depth along with Rosass. I dont think its an overstatement to say that their voices are as important to the impact of this music as Lennons and McCartneys were to the Beatles, declared Jim Roberts in down beat.

Steve Berlin joined the group after working on their EP. His full tenor and baritone saxes add another dimension to Los Lobos sound, as on the 1950s-styled party tune I Got Loaded. It got silly trying to do both the Blasters and Los Lobos, and since I got to play so much more with Los Lobos, it was more fulfilling, he told down beat.

Berlin also co-produced their first LP, How Will The Wolf Survive?, which featured blistering guitar on Dont Worry Baby, courtesy of Rosas and lush chords on A Matter of Time by Hidalgo. Every song covered different territory, from Tex-Mex polkas to New Orleans rhythm and blues, and as Perez pointed out in Guitar Player, the group defied categorization. As far as this band is concerned, coming from a diverse background and diverse musicianship, I think it would be unfair to stick us under one label. Not only unfair; impossible.

Their follow-up LP, By The Light of the Moon, showed them expanding even more. Not only was the musicianship superb, but the songwriting also belonged in a class of its own, moving beyond mere lyrics to social commentary. The portraits that merge are arresting as much for their diversity as for the appalling waste of human potential they illustrate time and again, wrote Gene Santoro in down beat. Los Lobos have brought their rich musical hybrid into the mainstreamwith a vengeance.

In 1987 Los Lobos was the centerpiece of the soundtrack to the movie La Bamba. They were able to recreate, and sometimes outdo, the original recordings of the late Richie Valens. Their version of the title track reached the American Top 10 and helped to secure an even larger audience for the group. With record sales beyond the wildest expectations of both Los Lobos and Slash, the band now had the clout to do what only a few artists (such as Bruce Springsteen with Nebraska) are capable of accomplishing.

In 1989 they released La Pistola y El Corazon, an album consisting solely of the type of folk songs that they began with some fifteen years earlier. We talked about doing someting like this since the day we signed a deal with the company, to take this music and record it properly, said Hidalgo in Guitar World. As Harold Steinblatt stated in the same issue, The record is no gimmick it is a stunning personal statement of musical faith by a band at the height of its creative powers. Powers which have not gone unnoticed by other artists either, like Ry Cooder and Paul Simon, who have tapped Los Lobos talents for various projects of their own.

Selected discography

Just Another Band from East L.A., Vista

. And A Time to Dance (seven-song EP), Slash/Warner Bros., 1983.

How Will the Wolf Survive?, Slash/Warner Bros., 1984.

By the Light of the Moon, Slash/Warner Bros., 1987.

La Pistola y El Corazon, Slash/Warner Bros., 1988.

Los Lobos has also appeared on the La Bamba motion picture soundtrack and as guest performers on numerous albums, including Ry Cooders Alamo Bay, Paul Simons Graceland (1986), Elvis Costellos King of America (1986), the Fabulous Thunderbirds Tuff Enuff (1986), and Roomful of Blues Live at Lupos Heartbreak Hotel (1986).

Sources

down beat, May, 1984; February, 1985; April, 1985; April, 1987.

Guitar Player, March, 1984; May, 1984; January, 1985; February, 1987; October, 1987; December, 1988.

Guitar World, September, 1986; February, 1989.

Musician, April, 1987.

Calen D. Stone

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Los Lobos

Los Lobos

The Mexican-American band, Los Lobos, (originally named Los Lobos Del Este Los Angeles) was formed in 1974 by high school friends David Hidalgo, Conrad Lozano, Louis Perez, and Caesar Rosas. In 1984 saxophonist Steve Berlin left his band, the Blasters, to join the original four as the only non-Chicano member. In 1987, with the release of their first single hit "La Bamba," a cover of the Ritchie Valens classic of the same name, the band was catapulted into the mainstream popular music scene. As a primarily Mexican-American group which has achieved widespread recognition, the band serves as a cultural icon to its multicultural listeners. And like the few other East Los Angeles musicians such as Lalo Guerrero and Valens, who have surmounted economic and social adversity to achieve fame, they serve as role models to other Chicanos who may fear that their attempts to escape from poverty will be thwarted by prejudice. The group's success and diverse following speaks for the accessibility of their music, and the band's self-professed mission to further the cause of intercultural and intergenerational harmony promotes a feeling of a "hip" family reunion at their popular concerts.

Los Lobos is known for its innovative blending of genres such as jazz, blues, Tex-Mex, country, and even punk. The band's roots, however, lie in rock and roll and in the Mexican music of their heritage. But after David Hidalgo acquired an accordion from a friend who was stationed in Germany, the group began to explore Tex-Mex and electrified their acoustic sound. Although this change cost them their first full-time restaurant gig, it was this interest in finding common ground among seemingly disparate forms of expression that has since become the band's signature.

The band got their start playing at local weddings and other parties. By the mid-1980s, however, the members of Los Lobos started to compose their own songs and entered the Hollywood music scene, then filled with clubs offering small venues for beginning bands to find their footing. After gaining recognition as the opening act for the Blasters, they appeared in clubs such as the Whisky, the Roxy, and the Cafe de Grande. Their second album, And a Time to Dance (1983), released under the Slash Records label earned the group their first Grammy. By their third release, How Will the Wolf Survive? (1984), the band had answered its own question by adding extensive touring to its repertoire. This heavy roadwork resulted not only in financial security but also in a more distinctive sound, realized in By the Light of the Moon (1987), an incorporation of jazz, blues, and country music. With the release of La Pistola y el Corazon (1988), the band revisited its roots by implementing traditional Mexican chord progressions and lyrics. The group's next three endeavors, The Neighborhood (1990), Kiko and the Lavender Moon (1992), and Colossal Head (1996) were also highly praised by critics, and demonstrated that, although the group has been together for over twenty years its music has continued to grow increasingly imaginative, straying further and further from the well-worn rock beat.

Los Lobos entered the popular consciousness even more memo-rably by performing in numerous movie soundtracks. Their involvement with La Bamba (1987), starring Lou Diamond Phillips, earned the band, among other honors, two Grammy nominations and an MTV music video award. In 1992, the band participated in the making of the soundtrack for the film The Mambo Kings, resulting in Academy and Grammy award nominations for Best Song from a Film for the song "Beautiful Maria of My Soul." Their work on the film Desperado (1995), produced by Robert Rodriguez, garnered the group its third Grammy Award. They also contributed to the score for Feeling Minnesota (1996), starring Keanu Reeves and Cameron Diaz.

The group's commercial success has allowed them to pursue their personal interests in family and ethnic harmony through benefit work. In 1990 they participated in an album that compiled classic music from Disney movies. They made appearances on the children's television program, Sesame Street, and in 1994 recorded a track called "Elmo and the Lavender Moon" for the album Sesame Street's 25th Anniversary. The album Papa's Dream, recorded with Lalo Guerroro in 1995, based on Guerrero's dream of visiting Mexico for his eightieth birthday, is similarly dedicated to children. The band also performs charity concerts regularly for organizations such as Integrity House, a center for people with disabilities. Their efforts were rewarded in 1996 when a children's learning center in Whittier, California, was dedicated to Los Lobos. The band also attempts to tackle social problems through their song lyrics, many of which treat the destructive effects of substance abuse and domestic violence.

Despite their success, Los Lobos has not escaped the effects of discrimination on the basis of their Chicano heritage. The Academy Award committee initially rejected the band's song "Cancion Del Mariachi" on the grounds that it was "unintelligible," a decision which revealed the American music scene's lingering discomfort with ethically-influenced music. In spite of the band's encounters with obstacles such as these, they remain a source of inspiration for California's Mexican-American population in the delicate balancing act of promoting both Chicano pride and intercultural crossover. After more than a quarter century of making music, Los Lobos' achievements add a note of unintentional irony to title of their first independent release, Just Another Band from East L.A.

—Carly Andrews

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Los Lobos

Los Lobos

Los Lobos, one of the few contemporary Hispanic acts to be recognized by the English-speaking pop audience. membership:David Hidalgo, lead voc, gtr. (b. Los Angeles, Oct. 6, 1954); Cesar Rosas, lead voc, gtr. (b. Los Angeles, Sept. 26, 1954); Conrad Lozano, bs., voc. (b. Los Angeles, March 21, 1951); Luis “Louie” Perez, drm., gtr., voc.(b. Los Angeles, Jan. 29, 1953). Steve Berlin, sax, kybd. (b. Philadelphia, Pa., Sept. 14, 1955) joined in 1983.

Along with X, one of the most challenging rock bands to emerge from the early-1980s punk scene in Los Angeles, the Mexican-American group Los Lobos has recorded several intriguing, eclectic albums that ranged from R&B to country, from rock and roll to blues, from nortena (“Tex- Mex”) to corridas (ballads) and traditional Mexican folk music, using both rock and traditional instruments. Achieving a musical mélange comparable to only the Meters and the Grateful Dead, Los Lobos broke through commercially with 1987’s cover of Ritchie Valens’s “La Bamba,” the first Spanish-sung song to top the pop charts. Yet interestingly, their brilliant and engaging 1992 Kiko album remained a decidedly underground hit, despite widespread critical acclaim.

Formed in East Los Angeles in November 1973 by Mexican-American graduates of Garfield High, Los Lobos performed traditional Mexican folk music on acoustic instruments for nearly eight years before taking up electric instruments in 1981. Then they started writing songs (principally by Hidalgo and Perez) and playing local colleges, community events, and clubs. Having recorded two albums of Mexican folk music on their own New Vista Productions label, Los Lobos sent a demonstration tape to Phil Al vin of the Blasters. They received their first break by opening for the Blasters at the Whisky a Go-Go, and Alvin later convinced the punk-rock label Slash to sign the group. Their first recording, a seven-song EP entitled And a Time to Dance was coproduced by the Blasters’ Steve Berlin and T-Bone Burnett and released in 1983, the year saxophonist Berlin joined the group. The EP included the traditional folk song “Anselma,” which won a Grammy Award.

Opening for acts such as The Clash and Public Image Ltd., Los Lobos garnered excellent reviews for their exciting, wide-ranging performances.

Los Lobos’s first full-length album, How Will the Wolf Survive?, won outstanding critical reviews—called one of the best albums of the year—and featured the minor hit title song (covered by Way Ion Jennings in 1986) and “A Matter of Time” (both written by Hidalgo and Perez), and a cover of the 1951 Peppermint Harris R&B hit “I Got Loaded.” Los Lobos performed at a wide variety of venues in support of the album, and various members recorded with Ry Cooder, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1986. Their 1987 album By the Light of the Moon included the socially conscious “One Time One Night” (a minor country hit) and “Is That All There Is?” by Hidalgo and Perez and Rosas’s “Set Me Free (Rosa Lee).”

During 1987, at the behest of the family of Ritchie Valens, Los Lobos recorded eight songs for the film biography of Valens, La Bamba. The best-selling soundtrack album yielded two hits for Los Lobos, with cover versions of Valens’s “La Bamba” and “Come On, Let’s Go.” Typecast by some as an oldies band, Los Lobos sought to dispel the notion by recording La Pistola y el Corazon (The Pistol and the Heart), an entire album of traditional Mexican and South American folk songs sung in Spanish and performed on acoustic instruments. The album won the group another Grammy award.

Los Lobos began recording their next album, The Neighborhood, in 1989. Released in 1990, the album included “Take My Hand,” Hidalgo’s “Emily,” and Rosas’s “I Walk Alone.” Their next, Kiko, was hailed as a masterpiece, yet it failed to sell in large quantities. The rich, haunting, mature album featured the ominous title song as well as “Dream in Blue,” “Saint Behind the Glass,” “That Train Don’t Stop Here,” and Rojas’s “Wake Up Dolores.” Performing and recording with the side group the Latin Playboys, Hidalgo and Perez contributed six original songs to the La Jolla Playhouse production of Bertolt Brecht’s Good Woman of Szechuan in 1994. In 1995 Music for Little People Records, distributed by Warner Bros., issued Los Lobos’s children’s album, Papa’s Dream.

Discography

los lobos:And a Time to Dance (mini) (1983); How Will the Wolf Survive? (1984); By the Light of the Moon (1987); La Bamba (soundtrack; 1987); La Pistola y el Corazon (1988); The Neighborhood (1990); Kiko (1992); Just Another Band from East LA.: A Collection (1993); Colossal Head (1996). children’s album:Papa’s Dream (1995). the latin playboys:The Latin Playboys (1994).

—Brock Helander

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