Redbone (band)

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Redbone in 1971
Background information
Origin Fresno, Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Rock
Years active 1969-1977
Labels Epic Records
Associated acts Pat and Lolly Vegas
Danny Spanos
Members Pat Vegas
Garrett Saracho
Joe Gonzales
Raven Hernandez
Past members Lolly Vegas
Tony Bellamy
Peter DePoe
Arturo Perez
George Spanos
Butch Rillera
Aloisio Aguiar
Eddie Summers
Jack White

Redbone is a Native American/Mexican American rock group that was most active in the 1970s. They reached the Top 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1974 with the million-selling gold-certified single, "Come and Get Your Love".[1]


Originally from Coalinga, California, brothers Patrick (bass and vocals) and Candido "Lolly" Vasquez (guitar and vocals) moved to Los Angeles in 1969 to form the group Redbone.

The name Redbone itself is a joking reference to a Cajun term for a mixed-race person ("half-breed"), the band's members being of mixed blood ancestry.[1] The band referenced Cajun and New Orleans culture many times in their lyrics and performing style. Patrick and Lolly Vasquez were a mixture of Yaqui, Shoshone and Mexican heritage.[2] The brothers began by performing and recording surf music as the Vegas Brothers, "because their agent told them that the world was not yet ready to embrace a duo of Mexicans playing surfing music"[3] They reportedly chose that name because an uncle was named Vegas and because they liked the association with Las Vegas. First as the Vegas Brothers, then later as the Crazy Cajun Cakewalk Band, they performed throughout the 1960s at venues on the Las Vegas Strip and appeared on Shindig![4][5]

According to Pat Vegas, it was Jimi Hendrix - himself part Cherokee - who talked the musicians into forming an all-Native American rock group, and they signed as the band "Redbone" to Epic Records in 1969. The band then consisted of Pat Vegas, Lolly Vegas, Peter DePoe and Robert Anthony Avila, a Yaqui-Chicano, better known by his stage name Tony Bellamy. Their debut album Redbone was released in 1970.[6]

Prior to forming Redbone the brothers had some initial success as songwriters. In 1967 P.J. Proby recorded his only Top 30 hit "Niki Hoeky" by Jim Ford, Lolly Vegas and Pat Vegas. The next year, Bobbie Gentry performed the Cajun-influenced song on The Summer Smothers Brothers Show.[7][8]

Redbone played primarily rock music with R&B, Cajun, Jazz, tribal, and Latin roots. Their first commercial success came with the single "Maggie" from their second album, Potlatch, in 1970, and two other hit singles followed - "The Witch Queen of New Orleans" (1971, #21 on the Billboard Hot 100) and "Come and Get Your Love" (1974, #5 on the Billboard Hot 100). "Come and Get Your Love", written by Lolly Vegas, remained on the chart for 24 weeks, and was certified gold by the R.I.A.A. on April 22, 1974.[1]

Lolly was one of the first guitarists to make extensive use of the distinctive Leslie rotating speaker effect in his electric guitar amplification set-up. Vegas played improvised, jazz-influenced guitar. Drummer Peter DePoe (born 1943, Neah Bay, Washington) is credited with pioneering the "King Kong" style of drumming, which features sharply accented polyrhythms involving the bass and snare drums and is similar to funk styles of drumming. The band referred to DePoe's "King Kong Beat" in their lyrics to the song "Prehistoric Rhythm" on their debut album.

Lolly Vegas, 1971

In 1973, Redbone released the politically oriented "We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee", recalling the massacre of Lakota Sioux Indians by the Seventh Cavalry in 1890. The song ends with the subtly altered sentence "We were all wounded 'by' Wounded Knee". It charted in several European countries and reached the #1 position in The Netherlands but did not chart in the U.S. where it was initially withheld from release and then banned by several radio stations.[9] DePoe had left this band in 1972, and was eventually replaced by Bellamy's Filipino-Chicano cousin, Butch Rillera around that point. Following this the band achieved much of their commercial success. Tony Bellamy (guitar, piano and vocals) left the band in 1977, with Rillera leaving shortly after.[9][10] He died, at age 63 in a Las Vegas hospital on December 25, 2009, as the result of liver failure.[11]

The band's current remaining membership is led by Pat Vegas. Raven Hernandez (guitar, vocals and songwriter) joined Redbone in 1996 to replace Lolly Vegas after he suffered a stroke that left him unable to tour with the band. Although Redbone has had some limited activity in recent years, their songwriting and touring output is slight compared with that of the early 1970s. A proposed reunion tour in 2003 did not occur. Evidence suggests the existence of an "imposter band" illegally touring the United States and posing as Redbone under the name (or alias) "Denny Freeman". Freeman - who Pat Vegas confirmed to be unaffiliated with Redbone in an interview with the Montana Standard - defrauded the county fair board of the Butte Silver-Bow County Fair in Butte, Montana, under pretenses of being a co-founding member of Redbone, yet he was never a band member.[12][13]

Prior to forming Redbone, Pat and Lolly Vegas released an album in the mid-1960s entitled Pat & Lolly Vegas at the Haunted House (Mercury MG 21059/SR 61059).[14] Of the twelve songs on the album, six were originals by the Vasquez brothers. Pat and Lolly also released several singles from 1961 to the mid-1960s. One of them was titled "Robot Walk" / "Don't You Remember" (Apogee Records A-101).

The first self-titled album by Redbone was released as a double album in North America. In Europe it was released both as a double (EPC 67242) and as a single album (BN 26280) on the Epic label.

Their third album, Message from a Drum, was released in Europe (except Spain) with the title The Witch Queen of New Orleans and different cover than the one released in the U.S. and Canada.

One of the 1970s drummers, George Spannos, released his own hit album Passion in the Dark in 1983 under the name Danny Spanos, having a Top 40 hit single with "Hot Cherie".

Redbone was inducted into the Native American Music Association Hall of Fame in 2008.

Bellamy died of liver failure on December 25, 2009 at a hospital in his hometown of Las Vegas.

Lolly died of lung cancer in Reseda, California on March 4, 2010.[15]


Current members
  • Pat Vegas - bass, vocals (1969-1977, 1997–present)
  • Fernando Verdialez - guitar, vocals
  • Vini Mars - guitar, vocals
  • Carlos Perez - guitar, vocals
  • Lee Wilson - drums, vocals
Former members
  • Lolly Vegas - guitars, vocals (1969-1977, 1997; died 2010)
  • Tony Bellamy - guitars, vocals (1969-1977, 1997-1998, 2008; died 2009)
  • Peter DePoe - drums, percussion (1969-1972)
  • Arturo Perez - drums, percussion (1972-1973)
  • George Spanos - drums, percussion (1973)
  • Butch Rillera - drums, percussion (1973-1977)
  • Jack White - drums, percussion (1977)
  • Aloisio Aguiar - keyboards (1977)
  • Eddie Summers - drums, percussion (1977)
  • Joe Gonzales (Thunderhand Joe) - drums (1982, 1999)
  • Garrett Saracho - keyboards
  • Raven Hernandez - guitars, vocals
  • Robert Lame Bull McDonald - guitars, vocals (2011–present)
Redbone 1977


Studio albums[edit]

Live album[edit]

  • Redbone Live (recorded 1977; released 1994) as Avenue/Rhino 71632

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Come And Get Your Redbone: The Best Of Redbone (1975) as Epic PG-33456
  • The Best Of Redbone (1976) as Dominion/K-Tel 833
  • The Very Best Of Redbone (1991) as Sony Music Distribution 4679362 [import]
  • Greatest Songs (Come And Get Your Love) (1995) as Curb 77746
  • Golden Classics (1996) as Collectables 5802 [note: this is a 2LP-on-1CD reissue of Potlatch and Message From A Drum plus two singles]
  • To The Bone (1998) as Sony Music Special Products 28581
  • Wet Willie and Redbone: Take 2 (2002) as Sony Music Special Products 52777 [five songs by each band]
  • The Essential Redbone (2003) as Epic/Legacy 86072

Charted singles[edit]

  • Maggie b/w New Blue Sermonette (1971) US #45 as Epic 5-10670
  • The Witch Queen Of New Orleans b/w Chant: 13th Hour (1971) US #21 as Epic 5-10749
  • When You Got Trouble b/w Jerico (1972) US #111 as Epic 5-10839
  • Come and Get Your Love b/w Day To Day Life (1974) US #5, US R&B #75 as Epic 5-11035
  • Wovoka b/w Clouds In My Sunshine (1974) US #101 as Epic 5-11131
  • Suzie Girl b/w Interstate Highway 101 (1974) US #108 as Epic 8-50015

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London, UK: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 349. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  2. ^ "Posts Tagged ‘Redbone’". (WordPress blog site). 2010-03-04. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  3. ^ Lipsitz, George (2007). Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music. Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press. pp. 130–131. ISBN 9780816650194. OCLC 486905750. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  4. ^ "In Memoriam: Lolly Vegas of Redbone". New York, NY: WCBS-FM. 2010-03-07. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  5. ^ Noland, Claire (2010-03-05). "Redbone singer and guitarist Lolly Vegas dies at 70". Los Angeles, CA, USA: Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  6. ^ "NAMA 10". New York, NY: Native American Music Awards. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  7. ^ "Bobbie Gentry - Niki Hoeky". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  8. ^ "The Summer Brothers Smothers Show: Season 1, Episode 6". 28 July 1968. Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  9. ^ a b "Redbone Biography". Musician Guide. 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  10. ^ "Redbone-History". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  11. ^ "Claire Voyant - Las Vegas Gossip". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  12. ^ Emeigh, John Grant (2006-08-11). "Fake band scams fair". The Montana Standard (Butte, MT: Lee Enterprises). Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  13. ^ Emeigh, John Grant (2006-08-16). "Musician says he’ll pay back ‘every dime’". The Montana Standard (Butte, MT: Lee Enterprises). Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  14. ^ discography
  15. ^ "IT'S A SAD DAY TO DAY, JUST GOT SOME BAD NEWS, WE JUST LOST A ROCK LEGEND van Redbone Official Myspace op Myspace". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 

External links[edit]

Selected video clips[edit]