Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
“Wooly Bully” is a classic jam, which was released in 1965. But did you know that members of the band who made it were Chicanos? Domingo Samudio became Sam the Sham, and he and the Pharoahs made music at the time without revealing their Latino ethnicity.
? and the Mysterians
? & The Mysterians wanted to be so, well, mysterious, that they didn’t use any names at all. But the band was fronted by Rudy Martinez and included his brother Robert Martinez, Larry Borjas, Bobby Balderrama, and Frank Rodriguez. It was hard to market Chicano bands, so many used names that would hide their identity.
Born Baldemar Huerta, Chicano Freddy Fender changed his name in 1958, in hopes of reaching a broader audience with his music (Fender is the brand of guitar he played). Although he changed his name to a more Anglo one, Freddy had a lot of songs that contained Spanish lyrics.
We know Bolivian-American Jo Raquel Tejada as Raquel Welch. In the 1960s, her manager convinced Tejada to use her husband’s last name, Welch, to avoid being typecasted as a Latina. She did fight Hollywood to keep using the name Raquel (they wanted her to use the name Debbie), which was seen as “too exotic.”
Born Florencia Bisenta de Casillas-Martinez Cardona, Vikki Carr first hit the music scene in 1962. She began in the pop genre, and became a big star. In 1972, she approached the head of her label with the desire to record an album in Spanish, persisting although she initially met with resistance. The album was a hit, which led to her major success in the Latino music world.
Legendary actor Anthony Quinn was born Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca. The Mexican-born, El Paso and L.A.-raised star’s father was half Irish, with the surname Quinn. The actor Anglicized Antonio to the more Hollywood-friendly Anthony.