Cannibal & the Headhunters

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Cannibal & the Headhunters
Cannibal & the Headhunters in 1966
Cannibal & the Headhunters in 1966
Background information
OriginEast Los Angeles, United States
MembersTrademark owner & Bandleader
Robert Zapata, drums
Charlie Munoz, lead vocals
Billy Cormier, lead guitar
Karl Carrasco, keyboards
Dave Goldstein, keyboards
George Garcia, bass guitar
Past membersFrancisco Mario "Frankie" (Cannibal) Garcia
Robert Jaramillo
Joe Jaramillo
Richard Lopez

Cannibal & the Headhunters were an American band from East Los Angeles. They were one of the first Mexican-American groups to have a national hit record, "Land of a Thousand Dances", recorded on the Rampart label. They were the opening act on The Beatles' second American tour, backed up by the King Curtis band.[1] They played at the historic Shea Stadium concert from August 15 to August 30 during the 1965 tour that was headlined by The Beatles.


They were discovered by Rampart Records label owner and founder Eddie Davis—and were among the 1960s Mexican-American musicians and singers who pioneered the "East Side Sound" of Los Angeles, a musical phenomenon that attracted international attention.[2]

Francisco Mario (Frankie Cannibal) Garcia founded the group in 1964; the other group members were Bobby and Joe "Yo Yo" Jaramillo and Richard Lopez who were in the group for 18 months. in 1983 Frankie (Cannibal) Garcia retired from the music business and turned Cannibal and the Headhunters over to Robert Zapata who has been in the group since 1969 and still performing today. Cannibal and the Headhunters on Facebook. Barely out of high school, they came from Ramona Gardens and Estrada Courts Housing Projects of East Los Angeles, and were inspired by the African American doo wop groups in their neighborhoods. Garcia attended Andrew Jackson high, in East LA. He frequently sang spontaneously while walking around campus. He had a very strong voice. This group toured recorded and performed together for only eighteen months, when Frankie "Cannibal" Garcia hired two new background singers, Eddie Serrano and George Ochoa, as the new Headhunters. Their version of "Land of a Thousand Dances" was a cover version of the original Chris Kenner tune, arranged and produced by Max Uballez with Frankie Garcia, and engineered by Bruce Morgan.[citation needed] The record reached #30 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1965. Wilson Pickett recorded the song into a national hit for himself in 1967, also using the "na, na, na, na" lyric.[citation needed]

The story of Frankie Garcia forgetting the lyrics to his hit song is urban folklore and was a story that Eddie Davis invented to explain the "na na na na na" phrase that Garcia came up with due to a bad mic cord that kept cutting off and on.[citation needed] On May 7, 1965, Cannibal and the Headhunters played a concert with the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, the Righteous Brothers, and Marty Robbins in Birmingham, Alabama, at Legion Field. Three months later Paul McCartney requested that Garcia and his group join the Beatles tour, August 15 through August 31, 1965, at Shea Stadium New York and at the Hollywood Bowl California.

Frankie Garcia died in 1996, aged 49. Joe Jaramillo died of cirrhosis of the liver in 2000, and Lopez died of lung cancer on July 30, 2010, aged 65.[3]


  1. ^ Quiñones, Ben (2005-12-28), "Naa Na Na Na Naa: How the West Coast Eastside sound changed rock & roll", L.A. Weekly, archived from the original on 2013-01-27
  2. ^ The Musical Beatles Invasion wasn't the only significant Pop event of 1964 Archived 2011-07-09 at the Wayback Machine,", 2004 (accessed July 27, 2010)
  3. ^ "Frankie Garcia's death. Variety". Archived from the original on 2010-08-24. Retrieved 2010-08-20.

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