Chicano Heroes of Rock and Roll, Part Dos

You know we had to have a second part to our popular “7 Chicano Heroes of Rock and Roll” roundup

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/The Official White House Photostream

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/The Official White House Photostream

You know we had to have a second part to our popular “7 Chicano Heroes of Rock and Roll” roundup. The following musicians are Mexican-Americans who made their mark, and influenced, rock and roll (look for similar posts in the future exploring Chicanos and Latinos in other genres including soul, R&B, doo-wop, rap, and more).

Freddy Fender

Born Baldemar Huerta, Grammy Award-winning musician Freddy Fender was the San Benito, Texas-born son of migrant workers. He gained fame singing songs across several genres (including rockabilly, Tejano, country, and pop) in both Spanish and English, including a Spanish cover of “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,” “Vaya con Dios,” and “Before The Next Teardrop Falls.” “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” hit number one on both the pop and country Billboard charts, marking the first time in history an artist’s first single reached the top spot on both charts. It is also the first bilingual song to make it onto the country charts.


The Romancers

Hailing from Lincoln Heights, Eastside L.A., The Romancers were a Chicano rock/garage rock/R&B/soul group from the 1960s. They were the first East L.A. Chicano band to record an album and were the main influence of the mid-sixties East L.A. sound, paving the way for bands such as Cannibal & the Headhunters, and the Premiers.


Chris Montez

Hawthorne, California’s Ekeziel Christopher Montanez sang in the rock, Latin, and pop music genres during the 1960s and ‘70s. In 1962, he scored his first hit, “Let’s Dance,” which peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1963, Montez’s second single, “Some Kinda Fun,” went to number 10 on the U.K’s Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Call Me,” a ballad, reached #2 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.


The Premiers

Photo: Way Back Attack

“Farmer John” is the hit that put The Premiers on the map. The cover song, by the San Gabriel group, was released in 1964, reaching the 19th spot on the Billboard Hot 100.


Thee Midniters

The band Thee Midniters is another Chicano group who scored a hit during the 1960s with their 1965 cover of “Land Of A Thousand Dances.” It was a local hit, and reached #67 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The band also had success with the instrumental “Whittier Boulevard.” Thee Midniters’ Chicano rock went beyond just the sounds, with songs about Chicano issues, such as “Chicano Power,” and “The Ballad of César Chávez.”


Cannibal & the Headhunters

Hailing from the Ramona Gardens and Estrada Courts Housing Projects in East L.A., Cannibal & the Headhunters also scored a hit with “Land of a Thousand Dances.” Their version reached #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965. When lead singer Frankie Garcia forgot the words, he added the “na, na, na, na, na,” which became the hook, and a the most recognizable part of the song.


Sir Douglas Quintet

The Sir Douglas Quintet came from San Antonio, and scored a hit with “She’s About a Mover,” which reached #13 in the U.S. and #15 in the U.K., on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Part of the “Westside Sound,” the group is also known for songs including “The Rains Came” (#31), “Dynamite Woman” (#83), and “Mendocino,” which reached #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.


Los Lobos

When Los Lobos covered Ritchie Valens’ hit, “La Bamba,” in 1987, their version became the first of only three Spanish songs to become number one in U.S. history. It hit #1 in the U.S.,and in other countries, including the U.K., Australia, France, Canada, and Ireland. The East L.A. band, who is still together, releasing new music, and touring, was nominated for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 (for the Class of 2016).

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Chicano cross cultural cultura culture hiplatina latina latino Latino heroes latino history latino music Latino musicians mexican Mexican-American Mexico music Musica Rock and Roll
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