Los Lobos

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Los Lobos
Los Lobos at the White House.jpg
Los Lobos performing at the White House in 2009
Background information
Origin East Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Chicano rock, roots rock, Latin rock, Tex-Mex, Americana, heartland rock, cowpunk
Years active 1973–present
Labels Warner Brothers, London, Mammoth, 429 Records
Associated acts Latin Playboys, Los Super Seven
Website www.loslobos.org
Members David Hidalgo
Louie Pérez
Cesar Rosas
Conrad Lozano
Steve Berlin
Enrique González
Past members Francisco González[citation needed]

Los Lobos (pronounced: [los ˈloβos], Spanish for "the Wolves") are a multiple Grammy Award–winning American rock band from East Los Angeles, California. Their music is influenced by rock and roll, Tex-Mex, country, zydeco, folk, R&B, blues, brown-eyed soul, and traditional music such as cumbia, boleros and norteños. They gained international stardom in 1987, when their cover version of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba" topped the charts in the U.S., the UK and several other countries. In 2015, they were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[1]


1973–79: Formation and early releases[edit]

Vocalist and guitarist David Hidalgo and drummer Louie Pérez met at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, California, and bonded over their mutual affinity for obscure musical acts such as Fairport Convention, Randy Newman and Ry Cooder.[2][3] Pérez recalls, "We’re looking at each other, 'You like this stuff? I thought I was the only weird one.' So I went over to his house one day for about a year, which we spent listening to records, playing guitars, and starting to write songs."[2] The two borrowed reel-to-reel recorders from a friend and created multitrack recordings of music spanning from parody songs to free-form jazz.[2] They later enlisted fellow students Cesar Rosas and Conrad Lozano to complete the group's lineup in 1973.[3] Their first album, Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles, was recorded at two studios in Hollywood in 1977 over a period of about four months. At that time, they all had regular jobs, and it was hard to get together for the sessions. So their producer Louis Torres would call the engineer, Mark Fleisher, who owned and operated a high-speed tape duplicating studio in Hollywood, to find a studio when he knew all the guys could get off work that night. Most of the songs were recorded at a studio on Melrose Avenue, located next to the Paramount studios at the time, and a low-priced studio on Sunset Boulevard.

The band members were unsatisfied with playing only American Top 40 songs and began experimenting with the traditional Mexican music they listened to as children.[3] This style of music received a positive reaction from audiences, leading the band to switch genres, performing at hundreds of weddings and dances between 1974 and 1980.[3] However, Los Lobos took notice of the popular groups on the Hollywood music scene and added influences of rock to its sound.[3]

Originally, they called themselves Los Lobos del Este (de Los Angeles) ["The Wolves of the East (of Los Angeles)"], which was a play on the name of norteño band Los Tigres del Norte and the fact that they (Los Lobos del Este) were from east L.A. The name was quickly shortened to Los Lobos.[4]

1980–88: How Will the Wolf Survive? and commercial success[edit]

The band's first noteworthy public appearance occurred in 1980 at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, when they were hired by David Ferguson and CD Presents to open for Public Image Ltd. In 1983, the band released an extended play entitled ...And a Time to Dance, which was well received by critics but sold only about 50,000 copies.[5] However, the sales of the EP earned the group enough money to purchase a Dodge van, enabling the band to tour throughout the United States for the first time.[5] Los Lobos returned to the studio in the summer of 1984 to record its first major-label album, How Will the Wolf Survive?, in 1984.[6] The album's title and the title song were inspired by a National Geographic article entitled "Where Can the Wolf Survive", which the band members related to their own struggle to gain success in the United States while maintaining their Mexican roots.[5]

The film Colors includes "One Time, One Night" in the opening credits, although the song was not included on the soundtrack album. In 1986, members of Los Lobos appeared alongside Tomata du Plenty in the punk rock musical Population: 1. In 1987, they released a second album, By the Light of the Moon. In the same year, they recorded some Ritchie Valens covers for the soundtrack of the film La Bamba, including the title track, which became a number one single for the band. In 1988 they followed with another album, La pistola y el corazón, featuring original and traditional Mexican songs.

1988–94: The Neighborhood and Kiko[edit]

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the band toured extensively throughout the world, opening for such acts as Bob Dylan, U2 and the Grateful Dead.

Los Lobos returned with The Neighborhood in 1990, and the more experimental Kiko (produced by Mitchell Froom) in 1992. In 1991, the band contributed a lively cover of "Bertha", a song which they often performed live, to the Grateful Dead tribute–rain forest benefit album Deadicated. In 1994 they also contributed a track, "Down Where the Drunkards Roll", to the Richard Thompson tribute album Beat the Retreat.

On the band's twentieth anniversary they released a two-CD collection of singles, outtakes, live recordings and hits, entitled Just Another Band from East L.A.

1995–98: Papa's Dream and Colossal Head[edit]

In 1995, Los Lobos released the prestigious and bestselling record Papa's Dream on Music for Little People Records along with veteran guitarist and singer Lalo Guerrero. The band also scored the film Desperado. The album track "Mariachi Suite" won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and stands as their last Grammy Award to date (the other two Grammy Awards were in the category of Best Mexican-American Performance in 1983 and 1989 for the song "Anselma" and the album La Pistola y el Corazón).

In 1996, they released Colossal Head. In spite of the fact that the album was critically acclaimed, Warner Brothers decided to drop the band from their roster. Los Lobos spent the next few years on side projects. The band contributed along with Money Mark to the AIDS benefit album Silencio = Muerte: Red Hot + Latin, produced by the Red Hot Organization, on which they performed "Pepe and Irene."

1999–2006: Mammoth Records, subsequent releases[edit]

Los Lobos signed to Mammoth Records and released This Time in 1999. Mammoth also reissued 1977's Del Este de Los Angeles. In 2000, Rhino/Warner Archives released the boxed set Cancionero: Mas y Mas.

The band released their Mammoth Records debut, Good Morning Aztlan in 2002. They released The Ride in 2004. The Ride featured Tom Waits, Mavis Staples, Bobby Womack, Elvis Costello and others covering Los Lobos music along with the band.

Los Lobos released its first full-length live-show DVD Live at the Fillmore in 2004. The DVD captures the band's act over a two-day period in July at the famed San Francisco venue.

In September 2006, Los Lobos released The Town and the City (Mammoth Records) to much critical acclaim.[7][8] The album's lyrics deal with Louis Perez's childhood in East Los Angeles, while the music provides complex and original soundscapes reminiscent of their previous release Kiko. Cartoonist Jaime Hernandez did the artwork for the album.[9] The album is told in the first person, with each song serving as an episodic step.[10]

2007–present: Tin Can Trust[edit]

In 2007, the group performed a cover of Bob Dylan's "Billy 1" (from Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid) for the soundtrack to Todd Haynes's film I'm Not There. Also in 2007, they participated in Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Vanguard), contributing their version of Domino's "The Fat Man".

In 2009, the group released an album of Disney covers, Los Lobos Goes Disney (Disney Sound/Walt Disney Records) and participated in a tribute album to the late Doug Sahm, Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm (Vanguard).

In 2010, Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo were featured artists in the Experience Hendrix Tour. On August 3, 2010, the group released their first album of new material in 4 years, entitled Tin Can Trust, through Shout! Factory, which features two Spanish-language tracks.[11]

In 2013, the group toured Europe supporting Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

On April 11, 2014, the band played two shows at the Kessler Theater in Dallas. Cesar Rosas did not appear. When a fan shouted, "Where is he?", David Hidalgo responded, "Where's Cesar? That's what I said!" The band soldiered on in jam mode, enlisting guests Max Baca and his nephew Josh Baca of the Grammy-winning San Antonio conjunto band Los Texmaniacs. The band's Management did not return phone calls from the Dallas Morning News for an explanation. On April 13, 2014, Cesar Rosas appeared with the band at the newly remodeled Aztec Theatre in San Antonio, again with Max Baca and Josh Baca as guests, and with Robert Cray as support.

On October 9, 2015, Los Lobos was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time.[1]





Soundtrack, compilation, and guest appearances[edit]


  • Live at the Fillmore, 2004


Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
1981 "Under the Boardwalk" Non-album songs
"Farmer John"
1983 "Ay Te Dejo en San Antonio" ...and a Time to Dance
1984 "Let's Say Goodnight"
"Don't Worry Baby" 57 How Will the Wolf Survive?
"Will the Wolf Survive" 38 78
1987 "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes" By the Light of the Moon
"Set Me Free (Rosa Lee)" 45 99
"Come On, Let's Go" 13 25 9 9 24 14 22 18 21 La Bamba (soundtrack)
"La Bamba" 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1
1988 "Donna" 27 29 32 26 83
"One Time, One Night" By the Light of the Moon
1990 "Down on the Riverbed" The Neighborhood
1991 "Bertha" Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead
1992 "Bella Marie de Mi Alma" Just Another Band from East LA: A Collection
"Reva's House" Kiko
"Kiko and the Lavender Moon"
2000 "Cumbia Raza" This Time
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Featured singles[edit]

Year Single Artist Album
2010 "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" Rick Trevino Non-album song

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b France, Lisa Respers (October 8, 2015). "Janet Jackson, N.W.A, Los Lobos among Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees". CNN. Retrieved October 11, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Kot, Greg (November 15, 2011). "Los Lobos interview; Louis Perez on songwriting". The Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved April 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Hilburn, Robert (October 11, 1990). "Los Lobos Returns to Old Haunts on New LP". The Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved April 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ El Cancionero: Mas y Mas liner notes of CD box set.
  5. ^ a b c "100 Best Albums of the Eighties - Los Lobos: How Will the Wolf Survive?". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved April 1, 2012. 
  6. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Los Lobos - Biography". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 1, 2012. 
  7. ^ Gilstrap, Andrew (September 28, 2006). "Los Lobos: The Town and the City". PopMatters. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  8. ^ "The Town And The City - Los Lobos". metacritic. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  9. ^ Gale, Dan (2005). Los Lobos LP/DVD Discography. Retrieved February 24, 2006.
  10. ^ "Band". Los Lobos. Retrieved July 31, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Retrieval June-18-2011". Shoutfactorystore.com. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Grammy's Greatest Moments, Volume III: Various Artists". Amazon.com. Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  13. ^ Flanders peaks
  14. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada - Top Singles". RPM. Retrieved July 30, 2011. 
  15. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  16. ^ French peaks
  17. ^ Search for Irish peaks
  18. ^ Dutch peaks
  19. ^ New Zealand peaks
  20. ^ Swiss peaks
  21. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  22. ^ "Los Lobos Album & Song Chart History - Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved July 30, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Gold & Platinum Search - Music Canada - Los Lobos". Music Canada. Retrieved July 30, 2011. 

External links[edit]