Los Lobos

1973-
David HidalgoVocals, guitar1973-
Cesar RosasVocals, guitar1973-
Conrad LozanoBass1973-
Louie PerezDrums1973-
Steve BerlinSaxaphone, keyboard1984-
  • Vocalist and guitarist, David Hidalgo, met the drummer, Louie Perez, at Dixon High School in Dixon, California. The pair bonded over their mutual taste in music and they soon began writing songs together. In our interview, Louie Perez spoke to us about these early days alongside Hidalgo: "We played guitars and wrote songs and listened to records, and I remember him putting on Randy Newman's record and Stevie Wonder's Music of My Mind, and Todd Rundgren's Runt. To me songwriting was something that I'd never thought about, but when The Byrds were interpreting Bob Dylan and that stuff started happening, it was like wow, this is like songs. And then of course Smokey Robinson. It was like, wait a second, there's something more than just moving to the groove. There's actually something that this is all about. That's when I realized that you can take your experience and translate it in another way: songwriting." Hidaglo and Perez were joined by fellow students, guitarist, Cesar Rosas and bassist, Conrad Lozano, in 1973. The band originally called themselves Los Lobos del Este (de Los Angeles), which translates to "The Wolves of the East (of Los Angeles)," but this was later shortened to Los Lobos.
  • Los Lobos first major breakthrough came in 1980, when they supported the former Sex Pistols' frontman John Lydon's new band, Public Image Ltd, at the Olympic Auditorium in LA. Audience member, and future Los Lobos multi-instrumentalist, Steve Berlin, admitted the band did not go down very well with the Punk crowd: "I had never seen more effluvia thrown at anybody." Los Lobos would later go on to support the likes of Bob Dylan, U2, Eric Clapton, Grateful Dead and Neil Young.
  • Los Lobos released their debut major label album, How Will the Wolf Survive?, in 1984. The album title was taken from an issue of National Geographic, which contained an article headed "Where Can the Wolf Survive?" Perez told Rolling Stone that, after struggling for success in the US having come from Mexican roots, this headline resonated with Los Lobos: "It was like our group, our story: What is this beast, this animal that the record companies can't figure out? Will we be given the opportunity to make it or not?" In 2004, How Will the Wolf Survive? was ranked at #461 on Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.
  • In 1986, Los Lobos starred alongside The Screamers' frontman, Tomata du Plenty, and a 12 year old Beck in the punk rock musical film, Population: 1, written and directed by Rene Daalder.
  • Los Lobos were asked by Ritchie Valens' family to record the soundtrack to the 1987 Valens biopic, La Bamba. Los Lobos recorded numerous Valens covers, including the title track, which became a #1 hit in the US. In our interview, Perez said that, although the band were frustrated that their first big hit was a cover, they were proud to have brought attention to Valens music: "The reason why we got involved in the first place is because we were asked by the Valens family if we would do this. It came from his mom and his sisters who had to give their blessing to the filmmaker and director to make this movie. They said, 'We want Los Lobos to do it.' So for us it was doing it for them and for the legacy of this young Chicano kid who really pioneered. I mean, how bold was it back then in 1959 to take a Mexican song and make it into a rock tune, rock arrangement, and sing it in Spanish? That was pretty damn brave."
  • In 1992, Los Lobos released what is considered their most experimental album to date, Kiko, which mixed folk, Tex-Mex, blues and psychedelic influences. In our interview, Perez told us it is the Los Lobos album that he is most proud of: "There's a point when all songwriters fall into this vacuum where it seems so amorphic and almost surreal. It happens to everybody - you find that place where time disappears and somehow you've cleared this conduit and this thing just comes from wherever it comes from. That's what (Kiko) did on a larger scale on that record, for all of us, everywhere, it touched everything. Mitchell Froom (producer) and Tchad Blake (engineer), all of us were on this crazy trip. It was like a canoe into the fog, all of us were right there paddling away, and knowing we just have to paddle. We don't know where we're going, but we just trusted it. And it was amazing."
  • Los Lobos scored the soundtrack to the 1995 film, Desperado, which was directed by Robert Rodriguez and starred Antonio Banderas. The instrumental, "Mariachi Suite," won Los Lobos the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
  • The Ride, Los Lobos' eleventh album, boasted a mix of new material and reworked versions of older Los Lobos hits. The album is noteworthy for featuring top guest musicians including Tom Waits, Bobby Womack and Elvis Costello.
  • The band released an album of Disney covers, Los Lobos Goes Disney, in 2009. Perez explained to Tulsa World how this record came about: "We had one album left on our contract with Hollywood Records, which is part of Disney. We had an idea to do a children's record and the label came back and suggested Disney songs. They put together this amazing collection of tunes to listen to – hundreds of them. We chose the songs we liked, went into the studio and put our own spin on each one."
  • In 2010, Rosas and Hidalgo formed part of the Experience Hendrix Tour - an all-star Jimi Hendrix tribute show. In our interview, Perez told us that Hendrix had a major influence on him when he was growing up: "I was 14 years old, and I wanted to go see Jimi Hendrix. I said, 'Mom, I really, really have to go to this.' And so she got a family friend to be my chaperone and drive me to the Hollywood Bowl. Hendrix walked out and opened with 'Spanish Castle Magic' or something like that. And at that point rearranged this 14-year-old's brain cells."
  • David Hidalgo's son, David Hidalgo, Jr., is the drummer in the punk rock band, Social Distortion. Prior to joining Social Distortion, Hidalgo played in two other influential punk bands - The Drips and Suicidal Tendencies.

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