Los Lobos singer/songwriter and guitarist Cesar Rosas has had a busy year.
In addition to contributing to a new LP from his band, Rosas issued his
first solo album, Soul Disguise, in February.
Rosas was born 45 years ago today in Hermosillo, Mexico, and grew up in
East Los Angeles. He formed Los Lobos in East L.A. in 1974 with high-school
friends bassist/guitarronist Conrad Lozano, singer/multi-instrumentalist
David Hidalgo and drummer Louie Perez.
Los Lobos, who gradually began to combine elements of pop, rock, soul,
blues and traditional Mexican music, started out playing acoustic shows
at weddings and restaurants in East L.A.'s Chicano community.
In 1978 Los Lobos issued an EP of traditional Mexican music, Los
Lobos del Este de Los Angeles. Rosas and Hidalgo then began to write
most of the band's material, attempting to tie all their influences
together in an original style.
Los Lobos became regulars on Los Angeles' music scene, playing with local
bands such as the Blasters, from whom Los Lobos acquired saxophone player
Steve Berlin in 1984. The preceding year, the band issued the EP
Award-winning track "Anselma."
Los Lobos' 1984 LP, How Will the Wolf Survive?, brought the band
a great deal of media exposure and made many critics' year-end top-10
lists. "Will the Wolf Survive?," from the T Bone Burnett/Steve Berlin-produced
album, received substantial radio and MTV airplay.
In 1987 Los Lobos issued By the Light of the Moon and enjoyed a
#1 hit song with their cover of "La Bamba" by the late Mexican-American
rocker Ritchie Valens, which appeared in the Los Lobos-heavy soundtrack
to the Valens biopic of the same title.
La Pistola y El Corazon (1988) consisted of mostly traditional
Mexican songs. The Neighborhood (1990) featured John Hiatt and
the Band's Levon Helm; it included tracks such as "Down on the Riverbed"
and "Little John of God."
Two years later came Kiko, an avant-garde Latin-pop album that
was named the year's best by such leading newspapers as the Los
Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. The LP was followed by
a 1993 retrospective, Just Another Band from East L.A. ... A
Collection, and a 1995 children's album, Papa's Dream.
Los Lobos toured heavily behind 1996's Colossal Head and played
the first Furthur Festival with members of the Grateful Dead. In addition,
the band won another Grammy for scoring the film "Desperado" and
contributed to soundtracks for movies such as "Mi Vida Loca" and "Mi
Los Lobos teamed with Money Mark for "Pepe & Irene" on the 1997
AIDS-relief benefit CD Silencio = Muerte Red Hot + Latin,
and recorded tracks on tribute albums to Buddy Holly and Doc Pomus.
Before beginning his solo career, Rosas collaborated with such artists
as Paul Simon, John Lee Hooker, Charles Musselwhite, the Fabulous
Thunderbirds and the Mambo Kings.
In June Los Lobos released This Time, including "Oh Yeah"
excerpt) and "Viking."
Rosas' Soul Disguise appeared four months earlier and featured
tracks such as "Little Heaven," "Angelito," "Shack and Shambles" and
"Adios Mi Vida." Among the guests on the album is Latin accordion master
Los Lobos' toured behind This Time and performed at Woodstock '99.
"We all came from the same high school," Perez said. "We were friends
before we were ever a band. I think that's one of the reasons we've been
around as long as we have."
Other birthdays: George Chambers (Chambers Brothers), 68; Bryan Ferry,
54; Lynn Anderson, 52; Olivia Newton-John, 51; Stuart Tosh (10cc), 48;
Craig Chaquico (Jefferson Starship), 45; Carlene Carter, 44; Tracey
Thorn (Everything but the Girl), 37; Cindy Herron (En Vogue), 34; Shawn
"Slim" Stockman (Boyz II Men), 26; Joe Bauer (Youngbloods), 1941-1982;
and Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon), 1967-1995.