El Chicano Biography

Originally formed in the barrio of east Los Angeles, California this US group started out as the V.I.P.’s in the late 60s. Their funky reworking of Gerald Wilson’s ‘Viva Tirado’ was successful on the emerging local Mexican-American music scene. Changing their name to El Chicano, the band built a solid local reputation for their energized Latin rock sound. Band members at this time included Bobby Espinosa (keyboards/vocals), Mickey Lespron (guitar/vocals), Freddie Sanchez (bass/vocals), and Andre Baeza and John De Luna (percussion). With ‘Viva Tirado’ achieving good sales in Latin and jazz charts, the band began to be noticed all across the country and they travelled to jazz festivals and were also booked into New York’s Apollo theatre. ‘Viva Tirado’ belatedly made it into the pop US Top 30. Through the 70s El Chicano made several well-received albums for MCA Records featuring some of their hit singles, such as ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ and ‘Tell Her She’s Lovely’.

Through the 80s and 90s El Chicano toured worldwide and their following was such that most of their MCA albums were reissued in Japan by Bomba Records. Among other musicians who have been in El Chicano’s line-up over the years are vocalists Ersi Arvisu and Steve Salas, guitarist/vocalists Jerry and Rudy Salas, bass players Brian Magness and Joe Perreria, and percussionists Rudy Regalado, Max Garduno, and Danny Lamonte. Anchoring the band through all its personnel changes has been Espinosa, whose fiery and driving playing helps propel the band through its exhilarating performances. The late 90s also found guitarist Lespron returning to the band for a spell. He later moved on to back Arvisu in her group, La Chicana. In 2005 Jerry Salas, who meantime had been leading his own Christian band, also returned to El Chicano, as did Regalado. For some years, Sanchez has managed El Chicano and he too latterly returned to playing in the band.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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