These 21 Latino Musicians Were The Soundtrack To Our Childhoods

Normally, the Latino culture is associated with other kinds of music like salsa, bachata, or merengue, not exactly rock ‘n roll. However, the following Latino musicians are solo players or members of some of the best rock bands around. And, so we’re clear, you can be a rock star without necessarily performing strictly rock ‘n roll.

1. Ritchie Valens.

Credit: Ritchie. Digital Image. LA Weekly. September 1, 2017

Ritchie Valens aka Ricardo Valenzuela took the world by storm during the late 50s with his cover of “La Bamba“. He was known to be a Rock & Roll pioneer and the creator of Chicano Rock. After his death in ’59, he was included in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and his death will always be remembered as “The Day the Music Died“.

2. Question Mark And the Mysterians.

Credit: ?. Digital Image. Vice. February 26, 2014

? and the Mysterians was an all Latino garage band from the 60s. Their hit song “96 Tears“ is considered to be one of the first, if not the first, punk rock song ever. This same song was included on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

3. Carlos Santana

Credit: Super Bowl. Digital Image. Essence. February 15, 2017.

This Hall of Fame rocker was the only Latino performer to participate at the legendary Woodstock peace and love concert in 1969. Santana has won 10 Grammy Awards and Rolling Stones magazine named him one of the Greatest Guitarist of All Time. He has worked with artists like Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, and Metallica.

4. Tom Araya

Credit: Mayhem. Digital Image. I Listen. Jul7 6, 2015.

The frontman for metal band Slayer, Tom was born in Chile before migrating to the US at the age of five where he was inspired musically by the likes of the Beatles and the Stones. After learning the trade of respiratory therapist in LA, during the mid-80s Tom decided it was time to make a move into the music world and pooled all his savings into Slayer’s original recording endeavor. This band hasn’t slowed down a second from its dark, dark form of metal rock.

5. Robert Trujillo

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Born in California of Mexican and Native American descent, Robert was inspired by the earliest dark rock performers such as Black Sabbath. Currently he is the bassist for Metallica but has been around the professional music scene since the late 70s even performing with legendary Ozzie Osborne. His career definitely took a turn for the better when he decided to come out of jazz school and begin rocking hard.

6. Doug Martinez

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Since 1992, Doug “SA” Martinez has been a standout for the 311 band, one of music’s lesser known, but powerful and successful rock bands. Doug provides vocals and turntable for the band, formed in 1988. They have issued more than a dozen albums, with a few reaching platinum and gold status. The name, uhhhh, comes from the police code for “indecent exposure”, a felony committed by one of the band’s original members. Doug has been at the forefront during the group’s best years.

7. Tico Torres

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Hector Juan, alias Tico, Torres is a rock drummer musician from NY. Born of Cuban parents, he studied jazz and became an excellent musician sought by many headlining acts in the 70s including Cher, Pat Benatar, Alice Cooper and others before becoming Bon Jovi’s lead drummer in 1983. He also auditioned for KISS when their original drummer left the band. Tico has a great feel for rhythm and also lends his vocals to some tracks.

8. Dave Navarro

CREDIT: davenavarro / Instagram

Described as one of alt-rock’s best guitarists, this man from California – whose grandparents migrated from Mexico – is the lead player in Jane’s Addiction, and previously was member of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Many young folks recognize him mostly from his TV appearances as judge on “Ink Master”, a tattoo competition. After the demise of Jane’s Addiction, Navarro has formed several spin-off bands with former bandmates and others added along the way. His inspiration to become a guitarist came from none other than Jimi Hendrix.

9. Jimmy Crespo

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Known mainly for his stint with Aerosmith in the 80s, this New York born guitar man has played for the likes of Rod Stewart and Meatloaf. He wrote a couple of hits for Aerosmith, sang by Steven Tyler, and was also influenced by the guitar rock of the late 60s: Clapton, Yardbirds, etc. These days he lends his artistry to many artists as session musician, alongside some permanent gigs as backup musician in Vegas. There are plans to release an album soon.

10. Zack de la Rocha

CREDIT: thezackdelarocha / Instagram

Born in SoCal, this powerful singer, for years known as the front-man for metal-funk band “Rage Against the Machine”, is also an activist for social and political causes, stemming from his upbringing and childhood stories of his ancestors in Mexico. De la Rocha left the band in 2000 but returned shortly for a politically hyper charged reunion at Coachella in 2007, leading to a brief tour throughout the USA and Australia, calling it quits for good in 2011. He’s still very active, musically and politically given the current times.

11. Freddy Fender

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Not exactly a rocker, but this legend born in the Rio Grande Valley in deep South TX had a few smash crossover hits in the 60s and 70s that paved the way for many other semi-country, semi-pop, acts. He was honored when he held the no. 1 spots at the same time on the country and pop charts for “Before the Next Teardrop Falls”, sang in parts English, and parts Spanish. His real name was Baldemar Garza, but, he said, Freddy Fender “appealed to the gringos better”.

12. Linda Ronstadt

CREDIT: prlocal27 / Instagram

Again, not exactly Latina, and not exactly a rocker but this lady has regaled us with many musical genres since the late 60s when she became a fixture on the California music scene. Her romp into Latino music came with the acclaimed album “Canciones de mi Padre”, a collection of Mexican songs enjoyed by her family in Arizona; her Dad had Mexican ancestry. This album is still the best selling non-English album in the history in the US. She recorded two more Latin albums with considerable success.

13. Jerry Garcia

CREDIT: jerrygarcia / Instagram

The name forever associated with Grateful Dead’s musical legacy was born in San Francisco of Spanish and US ascent. His early musical life was influenced by Ray Charles, BB King and John Lee Hooker. He fronted the Grateful Dead from its formation, in 1965, until his untimely death in 1995. His guitar playing was melodious, fluid, reminiscent of the early guitar licks of rock and roll, even hints of bluegrass at times. Diabetes, heavy drug use and extremely unhealthy eating habits led to his death in 1995 at only 53 years of age.

14. Vince Neil

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Originating from Hollywood, CA, this is one of rock’s most notable voices, maily as leader of Motley Crue. Vince’s mom has Mexican ancestry and his Dad is half Irish, but his music and vocals are pure dynamite! He left the band in 1992 after 12 years because of differing interests, as Neil wandered off to the fast world of Indy Car Racing. As usual, after declining finances for him and the band, they reunited in 1997 only for a short time as the tensions of the past arose again. His dynamic vocals were the hallmarks of Motley Crue’s powerful music.

15. Randy Castillo

CREDIT: philsoussan / Instagram

From New Mexico of Spanish and Native American/Hispanic parents, he was a presence on the rock scene as drummer for mega stars Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue. Randy began playing the nightclub scene in Albuquerque during the early 70s, polishing his act while skipping from one band to another. Unfortunately, Castillo died at a young 51 years of age in 2002 due to complications from a cancer tumor that was diagnosed too late. He was performing at the time with Azul, a mariachi-rock-pop band in Hollywood.

16. Chino Moreno

CREDIT: churchofchino / Instagram

Born in Northern California to a Mexican pop and Chinese mom, Chino, nee Camilo, is the proud owner of one great and powerful voice. His main endeavor as a musician was with Deftones, the alt-metal band from Sacramento. His influences range from pop (Duran-Duran) to The Cure and Depeche Mode. He started the band around 1988 and has been performing tirelessly since, having formed a few side projects with and without the band members.

17. Christina Aguilera

CREDIT: xtina / Instagram

This lady can rock, even doing pop. Of Ecuadorian father and USA mom, Christina made her first steps as a Mouseketeer for Disney TV, but quickly morphed into the mega star she is today. Blessed with a powerful and multifaceted voice, she can go from ballad to rock to jazz in a heartbeat. Born in NYC, she grew up in Pittsburgh becoming a fixture on the local sports scene being invited to several venues for the National Anthem. She has a total of 6 Grammy awards, including one Latin Grammy, as a testament of her prodigious career.

Read: We Ranked Christina Aguilera’s Top 25 Music Videos

18. Gloria Estefan

CREDIT: gloriaestefan / Instagam

One of the most powerful women in music – she runs the entire gamut from composer, producer, singer and songwriter – this Cuban star, naturalized American, has enjoyed a career like few in the business. Starting in the late 70s with Miami Sound Machine, led by her now husband Emilio Estefan, she took the rock-pop world by storm with the exciting fusion of tropical and rock music. She is still rocking worldwide and has no plans to stop!

19. Mariah Carey

CREDIT: mariahcarey / Instagram

Her Dad had Venezuelan roots which explains the singer’s fling for the lively beats associated with Latin rhythms. From her Mom she inherited a well-educated voice that propelled Mariah into stardom from a young age. Just 18 when she released her first album, her style is a mixture of R&B, soul, plus touches of pop-rock. Her personal life has also been scrutinized by the tabloid media but, whatever they publish, Mariah is quick to counter with yet another hit on the charts. Go girl!

READ: Mariah Carey Wore The Same Dress As Whitney Houston At The MTV Video Music Awards & Other Great Moments In The Show’s History

20. Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs

CREDIT: olaahlen / Instagram

Domingo Samudio was an up and coming Mexican heritage musician from Dallas when called to serve in the Navy in the late 50s. after a few gigs with his band, “The Pharaohs”, he cut a record, but with no success, and the band dismembered. Then came the biggest hit of their careers: “Wooly Bully”, which remained close to 20 weeks in the top 10 during the mid-60s. A one-hit-wonder, Wooly Bully remains a beloved song standing the test of time.

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Maluma Lands Cover Of “Elle” And Talks About Why It’s So Hard To Make New Friends


Maluma Lands Cover Of “Elle” And Talks About Why It’s So Hard To Make New Friends

Jeff Kravitz/MTV VMAs 2020/Getty Images for MTV

It seems like Maluma has long gotten the short end of the stick. As J Balvin and Bad Bunny rocketed to international superstardom, Colombian pop star Maluma hasn’t quite enjoyed the same level of mainstream recognition that they have. I mean who can forget his snub at the 2019 Met Gala…that was just heartbreaking to watch.

Although he’s just landed the cover of Elle magazine (the first time it’s ever featured a man), many are still asking why a pop star as talented and gorgeous as Maluma hasn’t reached the same level of fame? Well, in his interview with Elle, we get a few answers to some of world’s most pressing questions for Maluma.

Maluma has become the first ever man on the cover of Elle magazine.

Colombia’s superstar reggaetonero landed the cover of Elle’s February 2021 issue, becoming the first man to ever achieve the honor – and he shared a lot about his life – from his music, his 2020 experiences and his friendship with Jennifer Lopez.

And Maluma himself also seemed excited about the cover. “IT’S MALUMA BABY!!!!! Thank u @elleusa for making me the first male on the cover of the magazine, this means a lottttt to me!” he wrote on social media alongside the cover photo, which features the global superstar rocking green hair.  

“Let’s keep dreaming and achieving,” he added. 

Although the Colombian singer-songwriter’s world tour was suspended last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Maluma’s popularity has continued to skyrocket. (He even dropped a collab with The Weeknd last fall.)

In the interview, he reflected on 2020 and how it’s impacted him and his career.


“2020 has been a very difficult year for all of us, but I feel like this was my best year so far, musically, artistically, and personally,” Maluma told Elle, and he couldn’t be more right.

“I was talking the other day with my parents, and they were very happy because I’ve stayed a long time in Colombia, but they were also a little bit worried because they didn’t know what was going to happen with my work,” he continued, reflecting on the time he’s spent at home amid the pandemic. “My job is being on tour, but for me this has been very positive, being here in Colombia. I feel very connected again with myself.”

The singer also opened up about building connections with others, especially in the music industry.

“I don’t really like having new friends,” he said. “I try to make friends in the industry, but it is very hard. Sometimes I feel like they want to be my friends, but once I show them my back, they stab me.” 

“I prefer staying safe with my friends, where I always feel comfortable. When I didn’t have any money, they were there for me, inviting me to their house for lunch. They’re the ones who were laughing at me, and now they are enjoying my success,” he continued. “That’s life—just being grateful for everything that has happened.”

Though he didn’t name names, many were quick to speculate about who Maluma may be referring to.

While Maluma didn’t explicitly name anyone in the industry, Anuel AA appeared to diss him in Bryant Myers’ “Gang-Ga” remix in 2019. In the song, Anuel rapped, “Nunca flow Maluma / Siempre real G,” in which Anuel essentially meant he had a “real flow.”

The Puerto Rican artist added more fuel to the fire by writing on Instagram, “Flow Maluma = Pa las baby.” Around that time, Bad Bunny also tweeted Anuel’s verse.

Maluma later addressed the lyrics during an interview with Molusco, saying, “No me importa, la verdad. No me importa,” which translates to “I don’t care, in all honesty. I don’t care.” He joked for Anuel and Bad Bunny to call him, adding, “I don’t know why they did it. I’m still confused.”

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These Latino One Hit Wonders Came And Went But They’ll Always Have A Special Place In My Heart


These Latino One Hit Wonders Came And Went But They’ll Always Have A Special Place In My Heart


A lot of singers and bands have had one ephimeral hit. They had a song that occupied a top post on the charts and then slipped away into anonymity.

Growing up in the 90s and early 00s, hits like la “Macarena” from Spanish duet Los del Río, were huge. You heard it everywhere, from the radio to commercials, to kids’ birthday parties, to FIFA’s Worldcup. The song still holds a top position in Billboard’s Hot 100. Or how about early 00s inescapable hit “Aserejé”? The catchy moves were almost as viral as the nonsensical words.

What makes a song a one hit wonder?, you might ask. Catchy words and a catchy rhythm! The words are easy to remember and repetitive. This little formula is what gets us hooked on a song. Usually the lyrics are pretty simple – except for Aserejé, we really wouldn’t be able to explain how, or why we still remember every piece of gibberish in the song but alas! We do. 

The 90s and early 00s definitely had some iconic ‘one hit wonders’ that marked many generations. The people on this list made it to the top for a moment in time only to disappear into obscurity soon after. 

1. Macarena – Los del Río

Yeah, yeah, they’re not Latino but we’re including them because if you’re hispanic and were around in the 90s, you would know that La Macarena became a staple at EVERY latino gathering, and it will continue to be until the end of time. I dare you to go to a quinceañera or a wedding where they don’t play la Macarena at least once. 

2. Aserejé – Las Ketchup

Ok, not Latinas either, soz. But did you know that the Spanish girl band Las Ketchup recorded ‘Aserejé’ in 5 different languages, including Chinese? That’s how big this song was. It was rumoured that the song was satanic and there were so many theories as to whether the lyrics were backward words to some black magic ritual. In reality, the author Manuel Ruiz “Queco” revealed that the words are actually a play on the lyrics to “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugar Hill Band. You know, the one that says “I said a hip hop, Hippie to the hippie…”. —Lol, no obscure dark meaning here, not today Satan.

3. La Bomba – Azul Azul

This song truly was the bomb. By Chilean group Azul Azul, ‘La Bomba’ was top of the charts 19 years ago now! The song made it into Billboard’s top 100 latin-american songs of the decade 1990-2000. The lyrics were catchy and the dance moves too! What else do you need to make a hit?

4. El Tiburón – Proyecto Uno

Just by reading the name of the song we can picture the silly “shark” dance everyone makes to the words, ‘Ahí está, se la llevó el tiburón…’. Truly, baby shark has nothing on this tune. Dominican-American group Proyecto Uno became a hit with their unique blend of merengue with techno, dancehall, reggae and hip-hop rap—all of this pre reggaeton. The group won  Billboard Latin Awards, Premios Lo Nuestro and even an Emmy with this song. 

5. Otro día más sin verte – Jon Secada

27 years ago, ‘Just Another Day’ was the top balad of the moment. The song quickly made it to #5 in Billboard’s Hot 100. 3 months lates Jon Secada released it in Spanish, and all hell broke loose. The singer recorded a special with Oprah, toured Europe and his CD reached the Top 10 Best-Selling albums in the 90s.

6. 1, 2, 3 –  El Símbolo

What did we tell you? Catchy lyrics, and catchy dance moves. That’s all Latinos need to make a song their party favorite. El Símbolo was an Argentinean band of latin-pop formed in 1993. But it wasn’t until the year 2000 when they released “1, 2, 3” that their fame rose to world-class levels. 

7. El Baile del Gorila -Melody

“Las manos hacia arriba, las manos hacia abajo y como los gorilas…”. What can I say? The 90s were a time of strange songs. This little Spanish girl was 10 years old when she suddenly became a worldwide sensation. In every party, people would rush to the dance floor to imitate the video’s ape-inspired dance moves. After this song went platinum in Spain, we never saw Melody again until 2018, when she released a reggaetón single. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.

8. Quítame a ese Hombre del Corazón – Pilar Montenegro

Better known for being part of the 80s group Garibaldi, Pilar Montenegro became a musical sensation as a solo artist with her love song ‘Quítame a ese hombre’ in 2001. The singer, who was also a telenovela star vanished from the public eye after the success from her song died out.

9. No Rompas Mi Corazón – Caballo Dorado

Another classic latino wedding song is “No rompas mi corazón”, the Spanish equivalent to “Achy Breaky Heart”. The original song by Billy Ray Cyrus was recorded in 1992 and was a huge success in America. Caballo Dorado’s version released in 1997 became a staple in every latino celebration. You’ll catch people dancing to it in weddings, graduations and quinceañeras. There is even a World Guinness record to the largest number of people dancing in one place, and it’s to this song. It’s rumored that Caballo Dorado and Billy Ray Cyrus will release an anniversary duet version of the song.

10. Cha Cha by Chelo

Remember this hit from way back in 2006? ‘Hey muchacha, give me your Cha Cha‘. The Boricua took his song to every party, and even performed during 2006’s Miss Universe pageant. But that was about it, we never heard from Chelo again.

One or more of these songs are sure to spark some memories of a different time. They have become ingrained in people’s minds, they’re party staples. You’ll listen to them at a quinceañera, or a wedding and they still have the power of uniting people of different ages in singing their —more often than not— stupid but catchy lyrics. And then they’ll leave you wondering, ‘What ever happened to that singer?’

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