Lalo Guerrero

'Father of chicano music'
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The Independent Online

The Mexican-American Lalo Guerrero had a long career as a singer and songwriter and became known as the "father of chicano music". No other chicano musician wrote in so many styles: norteñas, rancheras, boleros and corridos, as well as American forms. In particular, Guerrero represented the Mexican community in America and addressed the issues arising from their cross-cultural identities. He once said, "We are invisible in American culture."

Eduardo "Lalo" Guerrero, singer and songwriter: born Tucson, Arizona 24 December 1916; twice married (two sons, one adopted son and one adopted daughter); died Palm Springs, California 17 March 2005.

The Mexican-American Lalo Guerrero had a long career as a singer and songwriter and became known as the "father of chicano music". No other chicano musician wrote in so many styles: norteñas, rancheras, boleros and corridos, as well as American forms. In particular, Guerrero represented the Mexican community in America and addressed the issues arising from their cross-cultural identities. He once said, "We are invisible in American culture."

He was born Eduardo Guerrero Jnr on Christmas Eve 1916 into a family of Mexican immigrants in the Barrio Viejo area of Tucson, Arizona. As early as 1938, "Lalo" Guerrero was recording with a quartet, Los Carlistas. In 1946 his composition "Pecadora" was his first major success and he went on to record over 200 singles for Imperial, RCA and Colonial. At one stage, Imperial renamed him "Don Edwards" in the hope of establishing him in the American market.

Guerrero wrote many parodies which embraced the differences between the American and Mexican cultures including "Tacos for Two" (based on "Cocktails for Two"), "I Left My Car in San Francisco", "There's No Tortillas" ("O Solé Mio") and "Battle Hymn of the Chicanos". He wrote "Barrio Viejo" about the destruction of the Tucson neighbourhood where he was born. This encouraged Ry Cooder to write an album around a similar issue, Chavez Ravine, on which Guerrero can be heard and which is due for release in June.

In 1997, Guerrero became the first chicano to receive the National Medal of Arts, from President Bill Clinton. The following year he played his first European dates to great acclaim.

Spencer Leigh



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