Saturday, July 01, 2017

Pop songs stars from before they called us Hispanics

It's common today to hear Hispanic performers on the radio. We have several Spanish radio stations in Dallas. Some artists sing in both languages.


What was it like years ago? What was it like before they called us "Hispanics"?


Let's start with Richie Valens. His story was popularized in "La Bamba", a great movie from the late 1980s.


Richie Valens was born Richard Steven Valenzuela in LA. He was only 18 when he was killed in 1959 along with the legendary Buddy Holly. His career was very short but significant. His hits included "La Bamba", "Donna" and "We belong together".

Second, Trini Lopez was born Trinidad López III in Dallas. He hit the top of the charts with "Lemon tree", "Michael" and "If I had a hammer".


Third, it took me a while to learn about Vikki Carr. She was born Florencia Bisenta de Casillas Martinez Cardona in El Paso, TX. I heard a lot of her songs before learning of her Hispanic roots. She was a bilingual singer before Gloria Estefan made it cool to do so. One of her biggest English hits was "It must be him":


Fourth, ? and the Mysterians had a few hits. The group's name promoted mystery, almost like a cult around lead singer (?) a.k.a Question Mark.


They were Mexican American kids from Flint, Michigan. They were Larry Borjas on guitar, Robert Balderrama, and Robert Martinez on guitars and bongos. The lead singer was the mysterious "?".

Their biggest hit was "96 tears":

And last, but not least, Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs was headed by Sam, who was born Domingo “Sam” Samudio in Dallas. They recorded "Wooly Bully", one of the greatest party songs of the rock era.


They did not make as much money as today's performers. In fact, some of these artists are out of music today. Yet, we should remember their unique contributions to the Hispanic experience.


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