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.
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.
? 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
18. Gloria Estefan
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
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!
20. Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
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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