The life and times of a Latin Rock drummer…………

The life and times of a Latin Rock drummer…………

Angel Orozco; although not known in the forefront of the Latin Rock vanguard, is a sterling example of a versatile drummer whose musical career has traversed a varied gamut of bands and players thru the seventies and eighties and into the nineties. He has played with, among others, Poncho Sanchez, El Chicano, Evil, Thee Midniters with Willie G, Changing Times, Chepito Areas and Cobra, Rubicon (with Jerry Martini), Attitude (with Chepito, Mike Carabello, Karl Perazzo and David Brown) and Puro Bandido as well.

Please note this an honest, unflinching account of hard, riotous times in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Those of a more sensitive disposition can choose not to read. It contains stories of hard drug usage plus the resultant crazed behaviour that comes with this territory. Many people from that Latin Rock era fell foul of these new narcotics (especially the revival in wide spread cocaine and heroin use) that engulfed the USA from the early 1970’s onwards. If the Latin rock scene is a microcosm of the entire USA music scene, then God help musicians and others, then and now! Particularly then; as the encroaching dangers from these drugs, were not entirely evident to these musicos, at least at first.

As someone who has been in recovery and clean and sober for nearly twenty-six years, a day at a time, my heart goes out to these dazzling young persons, who fell foul of this modern-day pestilence that destroyed their talent and opportunities and that has and is sweeping our world! The historic bubonic plague has got nothing on this horrendous, malevolent epidemic!

Angel plays with El Chicano, Santana, Cobra, Chepito Areas, Rubicon (with Jerry Martini) Attitude (with Mike Carabello and David Brown, Puro Bandido and more…..

First, the El Chicano band days in Los Angeles………….
El Chicano days! I performed with this band from 1974/75 to 1976 off and on! The line up was then…Bobby Espinosa/Hammond B3 and Vocals, Mike Albert, Guitar or sometimes Jerry Salas/Guitar & vocals, Hector Andrade/Timbales, Lee Pastores or Sergio Pastores/congas, David Torres/Piano and myself on drums. I cannot remember the bass players name. Bobby hired different bass players so it is hard to remember what the name of the bass player on the picture that I will attach! Bobby Espinosa was a sweetheart! I used to go to his house and work on the bands material and Bobby’s brother Henry was also a good organist but Henry could really play the piano. Henry was the one that taught Bobby how to play. The Espinosa brother’s had a grand piano in their living room. Henry would always go out and get burritos, tortillas, tacos, whatever we wanted and Bobby would continue to work out the arrangement for the band with me. Bobby lived at his mother’s old house that was all barred up, you know living in E.L.A. was tough and that was off the Atlantic Boulevard. Exit off the I-5 freeway. I cannot remember the name of the street that the house was on. I spend a lot of time there with the brothers. Bobby was a funny cat, good jokes, and a hell of a Hammond B3 player. The whole band would practice at an old building in Hollywood of Melrose Avenue. The pictures that I sent you is where those where taken at.
Remember I told you about baseball. Well, Bobby and Henry also loved baseball. In those days I was a Dodger fan like the brothers where. One year the Dodgers won the World Series and I think that was sometime in the 1970’s. Well Bobby and some other friends went to downtown L.A. to rout and cheer for the Dodgers. Now, as I told you before I always smoked pot and so did Bobby. At the celebration parade pot was being passed around. When the mary-jane came to us we got busted for a roach, when and by the time it got to us. The cops hassled us maybe because we both had long hair, who knows? The hassled us for about 15 minutes and finally let us go. What a drag that was but later on Bobby and I would laugh about it. Both of us knowing that was a close one. I am very honored to been able to work with him and especially to be one of his amigos!
Bobby, God bless you and rest in peace my dear friend

The first time I saw Hector Andrade (timbalero) was with the band, Caldera. I sure liked that band; they were hot. When Bobby told me that Hector is the guy and that he is in my band playing the timbales, Wow that’s great I said. Hector was/is not like Chepito or the Escovedos. He had nice rhythms and had good showmanship. Hector was/is a straight-ahead cat. I really enjoyed working with him.
Hector and Carmelo have the same kind of the style. At least that is my opinion. Hector where ever you are, THANK YOU & GOD BLESS YOU!

We toured but the one time I remember is I when we toured Texas. One of the places we played at was the Astro Dome, which is no longer there but anyway we got to open for Santana & Santa Esmeralda. Anyway, I thought to myself I finally get to meet the Santana band and I did.
Since the El Chicano Band was not doing much. We tried to do and recorded a music score for a movie that Lee & Sergio Pastoras from the Gino Vinelli Band, (they also worked with Eric Clapton). It did not work out. I still have a rough cut of that recording!

Too bad that the El Chicano band was not working that steady back then? I was lucky to be able to work with many other bands in the LA area. I had my bills and rent to meet. Like I said, I was on my own right after I graduated high school so I worked with many bands and if they were not busy I would look for the one that was. I guess that is why maybe I never really made it, BIG!!!
The recording that both Lee and Sergio Pastora worked on, did not pan out. We did record the song titled Street Boy or Gang Boy? I will have to dig it out and listen to it. I hope it still works for I have it on a cassette tape, I will check it out. The song was never released
I remember buying the anvil cases from Lee Pastora that he got when he was working with the Eric Clapton band. I sure needed them now, for I was starting to commute from Long Beach airport to SF airport, back then it was only $20.00 one way. After so many trips I moved to the Bay Area.

Here it is! Ramon Lopez/congero & Roy Reynolds/Bari Sax for the Stan Kenton Orchestra are the two in the middle.
Conga Players Lee & Sergio Pastora. These two brothers performed, recorded, & toured wih Don Ellis Orchestra, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, Gino Vinelli, Weather Report, and many others.
These two guys were awesome. I actually joined a band in LA that was a fusion band with trumpeter Mark Hatch. In that band were Tom, Bruce and Steve Fowler that played with Frank Zappa’s Band, Richard Torres on sax. Guitar was Grant Giezman. Grant was in the Chuck Manjione band. I think that is how you spell it? We would get together when we could just to do time meters like 7/4, 6/8, 5/4 and other types of crazy meters and fusion styles. This was a real challenge and I learned a lot from these guys. Thank you fellows!!!

1976! The last part of winter I left L.A. and moved up to San Francisco. I remember how my parents, my four brothers, and friends took it, but the one that took it the worst was my dear grandmother Mama Virita, may she rest in peace. My parents have always been so supportive especially with my music and so, they understood. I was tired of the L.A. hot smoggy summers that lay ahead, the traffic and long commutes!!!
Music was an up and down and it would get so tough that I would have to find part time jobs to support my self
I moved out from my parents house right after I graduated so I had learned to take care of myself at a very early age.
So with all of that, I jumped into my 1970 Chevy Super-Sport and hopped onto the I-5 freeway and headed North.
Back then in 1976, the 8 track tapes were the shit. I had a good collection but one of my favorites was Santana’s Welcome album. There is a cut that Richard Kermode composed called, Yours Is The Light. I kept repeating that song so much that I had it down and I was hoping to get to meet Richard and I will get to that later on in our interview.



Angel Orozco Jr.

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Angel moves to San Francisco and finds the Cobra Band rehearsals in the City…..

After the El Chicano tour, when we got back home to LA, I received a call from Mark Weisberth, who was the pianist for Chepito’s band and also Cobra. Well, Cobra was looking for a drummer and that if I was interested? I jumped for the chance. I started to commute from L.A. to S.F. Back then I would commute at least once a week to practice and perform with the Cobra band. So I finally made it to San Francisco! My directions at the end of my journey were to get to Howard Street and 6th Street in the City. I do not remember the address but it was on Howard St, in a three story building that was kinda’ funky place. Little did I know where I was; I should of known when I asked for directions from the gas attendant, when he said, “Are you sure you want to go there”!!!

When I first got to San Francisco at 6th Street and Howard Street for Cobra band’s practice place, I thought to myself, shit, I am in skid row. There were lots of bums, winos and hookers. The building that we practiced in was a three story funky, old, smelly building. That was OK with me. I was in a new place and I figured I had to start somewhere, what a place to start all over again!!!
I remember that like it was yesterday. So I made it to the address/studio that Mark Weisbarth told me how to get to, he was my contact and also the music director for the Cobra band. Mark showed me all of the material and gave me tapes to practice with and let me stay at his place. This was all new to me, the city, no real home of my own, practice without full attendance but that was OK with me because it gave more time to learn and memorize the material.

Yes! Mark Weisbarth is the person who showed me all of the Cobra material. Being that I had no home, he offered for me to stay at his house but his girlfriend did not like that, so I was bounced around the city until I got my own place. One place that he hooked me up with this guy Joe something, forgot his last name that lived in Glen Park in the city. Anyway I stayed there in this fucked up old house that had motors and engine parts in the living room. It was better than nothing. I had a 1970 Super Sport back then. Joe borrowed my car one day and never came back. He stole my car and his partner that lived with him, told me that he knew nothing and that he is going to sell his things and get the money for the rent that Joe owed. I told his roommate and his mother that I am going to call the cops. She said, go on I am tired of my son having me go thru all these things.
I had lost my car and that was a very tough time for me.

Mark and I would always be practicing and always the first ones to be there. The whole band should have been there on time but one by one at a time, they would show up and come, in and out. I thought that was a bit strange. I was not used to that kind of rehearsals but I did not care because I was going to meet the guys from the Santana Band. I was so naive!
I guess it took a week’s time to meet the whole Cobra band members during the band rehearsals!
Meeting Mike Carabello, Chepito and David Brown was like a dream come true. David was not the bass player at that time; he was either not into it or would not show up on time when he was supposed to, or even not at all. I think that is why they got Alfredo Ancheta in to play bass. Alfredo that is we all used to call him Freddie but Chepito had a nickname for him, CHINA MAN CHONG. Chepito had a nickname for everybody!! I remember once when he called Carlos Santana an M&M (Mexican Motherfucker) boy was Chepito cold! I could see that they did not like each other. Seems Carlos had no choice and would have to put up with Cheppy!
I know for a fact that Chepito was the driving force, music director, music arranger, teaching Mike conga parts, giving cues to the band on the Santana albums by whistles or other cool sounds that he was and still is so good at. Chepito pointed them all out to me one night at his house on Goldmine Drive in the city. That was pretty cool to hear and learn that.

Buddha! Yes, Buddha was the manager for the Cobra band. Buddha had his office on Kearney Street and I think the cross street was Pine Street. Anyway it was on Kearney Street on the 3rd floor. We would have our meetings there. This is where the band was hanging out while Mark and I would be rehearsing back at the Howard and 6th Street studio. After 4 months of this unusual way of life, rehearsing etc. I started to understand it or should I say to see what was going on. There are so many crazy stories and moments that I could not tell them all. One thing for sure is, all the entire band wanted to do, except Mark and I back then, was to get high!!! Buddah and the drug scene was not what I hung around much off of (then). He tried to keep it to himself and seemed that he did not want me to know, so it was sort of a hush-hush thing. I found out about the coke and freebasing later on thru Chepito, Mike C. and David B. You can say that they were the ones that introduced me to freebasing cocaine! Mark W and I, as I said spent most of the time working on the material, so I did not hang out at Buddah’s office on Kearny Street as much as the other band members did.

Where is the MEDICINE? That was the nickname for the drugs. I only smoked pot back then in those days and even before that with my old buddy’s from LA. These guys were serious about getting their next fix. Cocaine was one of the big problems and I know that heroin was going on because I would see some of the guys in the band nodding off and sweating like there was no tomorrow!
I could go on but for now here is the Cobra band line up/personnel.
Michael Carabello – congas, percussion, keyboards, & vocals
Jose “Chepito” Areas – Timbales, Percussion, Vocals
Gregory Dawkins – Vibes, Flute, Harp, Percussion, Keyboard, Vocals.
Gregg Watt – Keyboard, Synthesiser
Mark K. Weisbarth – Organ, Hammond B3
Angel Orozco – Drums
Alfredo Ancheta – Bass Guitar
Fernando Arragon – Guitar
Jennifer Romaro – Vocals
(Jim note from Angel; Mario Sanchez was/is Chepito’s conguero who played on the Chepito All-Star album. Mario also has a brother named Roland that lives in Hawaii who is a very active musician there. You can check out Rolando Sanchez on Facebook)

Yes, all Mark and I wanted is to do is play our music. As mentioned before with the Cobra band, little did I know when Mark invited me into the band is that the band was a drug band. That pretty much tells you all. I am sure Mark knew that but never told me. We both were just into the music and I think that is what he liked about me, so he kept it away from me as much as he could.
It was fast paced in the Cobra band but when we would practice every once in a while as a whole band, it was great. I don’t know when it was but we did record (Jim note – Columbia Studios- 2 tracks) and I don’t remember where. I do have the tape that awhile back I made a copy of. That band was really good when they got serious. Maybe that is why I hung in there with them.

One crazy story about Chepito and I think I told that to you already but here it goes. Cobra played somewhere in Mendocino and Cheppy took his girlfriend with him. Oh great, well Elizabeth (Chepito’s wife) found out about it and drove all the way from the city, all the way to the gig in Mendocino. Anyway she drove up there and when she got to the venue, we were all on stage. Elizabeth came up, onto the stage and I could see it in her eyes, we all could see how pissed off she was. Elizabeth started to beat Chepito up on stage and pull out his hair. The audience first thought it was part of the show but soon saw that it was not. Chepito ran offstage and we kept on playing.
David Brown was not in Cobra; Freddy Ancheta was the bass player. Oh yea’ Freddy was a probably just as bad. Freddy was always asking, “who’s got the medicine” but that’s another story. I heard Freddy also died and he ended up having a child with Jennifer, the lead singer for Cobra. I think it was a boy?

Meeting up with Santana in transition……..

Mark and I used to go to Studio Instruments Studios (SIR) on Folsom Street in the city. There is when I first met Carlos Santana and the band. Carlos and the Santana band had just let Leon “N’dugu” Chancler go. I do not know the whole story but N’dugu was no longer with the Santana band. Tom Coster was on keyboards/B3, Pablo Tellez was playing bass, Armando Peraza on congas and there was no timbalero or drummer.
Armando came out during there break where we used to hang out in the hallway so that we can listen closer or see what’s going on when the door opened. God, that was so exciting. Good memories. Well, like I said Armando came out and Mark introduced me him to me.
What an honor I said to him, I just did not know what to say after that, I was standing next to, EL MAESTRO CONGUERO and all of the sudden he says, so you play drums you do? Yes sir! I replied and he told me; well get in there or something like that. So I went in with him and he tells Carlos and Tom that here is a drummer. Great they said. I looked down and it was an old Ludwig rental kit that was falling apart. Great I said to myself. I had no choice I jumped on that old fart and started jamming and all was going great until the last part of the song that went into a double time. The drums started sliding across the floor and we would have to stop. The drum legs were not holding. So we duct taped it I think or some kinda’ tape like that. Anyway, I got to jam with the band and that is when I started to hang out with them at S.I.R. studios and got to meet other great bands and musicians. Those where the good old days!

What do I think of Michael Shrieve? M.S. is a fantastic drummer. I remember Armando Peraza once telling me about the time that they where recording Richard Kermode’s song “Yours is the light” from Santana’s Welcome album. Airto was originally asked to record “Yours is the light” since Flora Purim did the vocals.
Meanwhile M.S. recorded “Yours is the light” to have on the tape reel, or should I say on file until Airto can come to the studio after his tour and to record the drum track/part.
When Airto finally showed up to the studio he listens to “Yours is the light” after listening he tells Carlos that, “why do you want me to record over M.S. drum track when he did a great job with it” or something like that. I told Armando that I thought that was one of Michael Shrieve’s best drum work, I loved that song and drum work. I guess that will let you know what I think of M.S. and it is also a honor to know him.
(F.Y.I.! David Margen was the bass player in Santana after Pablo Tellez. I bet you knew that? David’s last name is misspelled I believe? 1977?) (No- your OK! Jim note)

Rubicon band with Jerry Martini………
In 1977 I got the chance to audition for the Rubicon band. They also rehearsed out of S.I.R. studios. David Bartlett; the second drummer from the Tower Of Power band was the guy that I replaced.
The band consisted of Jerry Martini/sax of Sly & the Family Stone, Dennis Marcelino/sax of Elvin Bishop Band, Mike Sasaki and Max Haskett of Cold Blood, Steve Carter/piano, Jack Blades/bass and myself on drums. This was a very funky band but was looking to go to the rock direction. I was with that band for almost a whole year. We did some great shows and all originals and recorded at the Record Plant in Sausalito, Columbia studios was the studio before The Automatt anyways there. Half way thru the year they decided to get rid of Steve Carter and hired this B3 singer to replace him. Jim Pugh is his name. I was so pissed off that they fired Steve who became a very close friend. Shit! Here we go again I thought to myself. That damn music business!!! We were on a weekly salary from the investors that Jerry found from Australia of all places, um!! What they said went!!! Next was Mike Sasaki, they fired him and I was not happy again. Well I started not to care and they could see it so I was the next one to get fired. Oh well!!
Rubicon went on to get a record deal and play some great concerts, but they finally broke up and Jack Blades took over and later on started Night Ranger.
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Joining Attitude with Carabello, Chepito and David Brown.
Now this is the time that I hook up with ATTITUDE!
I was with Attitude from 1977/78 to 1980. They were not an active band and did not have many gigs. Richard Kermode, Dougie Rauch and Abel Zarate!! Yes, they were in the Attitude band but a bit before my time. I did get to be good friends and play drums in other bands with Richard Kermode and Abel Zarate. As for Doug Rauch, everybody knew that he had a problem with drugs and I did not even ever get to meet him. What a great bass player he was!!!
I played with Abel a short time with Attitude until he left the band and then Carabello got Mike Sasaki in to play guitar. It worked out great! Most of the guys were playing with other bands and it was tough to get every one together to do a gig. We practiced a lot in San Rafael in a studio called Hun Sound Studios. The line up then was
Michael Carabello – leader, congas
David Brown – bass
Abel Zarate was the original then Mike Sasaki – guitar
Steve Carter – piano
Jeffery Chin – keyboards
Chepito was the first timbalero then Karl Perazzo and sometimes Pete Escovedo (Timbales & perc).
Angel Orozco – drums
Tommy Banks – vocals
Sometimes; we also had Andre Lewis from the Buddy Miles band on B3 organ and vocals. (You remember Them Changes? – sure do!! Jim note)
Here it goes! Attitude was a Soul, Funk, Latin and rock and roll band. It had it all if we wanted; we could of even played country music if we wanted too. We tried to stay or find a commercial sound that would sell. The band recorded one record the 45 rpm, Pretty Little Girl, that I told you about, that was it!
Mike first got Fred Catero in as an engineer if I remember right then Micky Hart ended up finishing the record project that was recorded at the Automatt Studios. Attitude, as I said before rehearsed in Marin at the Hun Sound Studios in San Rafael. That was a great place to rehearse.
At that time it was the toughest, just to get on time to the studio because I had to wait for M.C. for at that time I was living at his place in Fairfax. I hated it. I have always been an on-time person, so it was frustrating for me. When the band did get together we rehearsed hard and for a long time, I loved it. Yea’ man that BAND SHOULD HAVE MADE IT!!!

Well since the band did not have many gigs, it got tough I even moved in with Mike Carabello (in Fairfax, Marin County) and looked for part-time work and other gigs.
I did play drums for a couple or so with the Pete Escovedo band and also the SF All-Stars band.
The SF All-Stars band, I will get to that later.

Carabello was always highly strung then and did not practice much. He would lock himself in his room at home when I was living with him in Fairfax and I am telling you he spend more time in that room, than playing his congas. I would at times dance with the devil with him, cocaine, but he would get weird and I could not stand to be with him and I knew that I had to get away from this. There were shady characters all around! Shit!! I even met Sly Stone thru Michael and what a mess he was when Mike took me to his house in Novato. I thought I was going to meet a great, famous person. I was wrong; it was nothing but drugs.
Meeting the legendary Sly Stone, was an enormous let down for the young Angel………
Here is what I can recall about meeting Sly Stone. The first time I met him was when he came by Hun Sound Studio. We were practicing with Attitude and when we took a break and I’m pretty sure that it was Jeff Chin and I because we stayed a bit longer finishing up a part that we had worked out. When we finished Jeff and I stepped outside the studio and there was Sly talking to Mike C. Sly was dressed up in his usual crazy, colorful outfit and I immediately knew who it was. A bit later for we were standing outside close by the studios entrance and that’s when MC introduced us to him. Sly and MC was very quick about it and they continued their conversation. That day Sly never came into the studio! Sly took off and I did not even see how or what car he came in. I still thought that it was pretty cool meeting Sly/Sylvester Stone, even as quick as it was. Then, I did not yet know about his ways or the way he was/is!!!
One day not too much longer after that Mike asked me if I wanted to go to Sly’s house with him so we did. When we got to his house somewhere in the hills of Novato we arrived in a big ranch type house/property. As we drove up to the house, which seemed pretty much well taken care of but when I noticed the big stables I thought that Sly had horses or he rode. I like riding horses myself but there were no horses in Sly’s stable. When we parked in front of the house that I can barely remember exactly what type of house it was but it seemed to be pretty big two-story house.

Mike got to the door knocked and walked right on in for he’s always been kind of like that, just walks right on in. So, I followed him right into Sly’s house and there must have been about, I guess ten people scattered all around with the TV on but really nobody watching it. I did not recognize anybody. I remember the rug was purple and on his walls he had Zebra skins, there were couches and chairs with crazy different colors. There were pipes laying around in the smoke filled room, over flows of cigarettes butts from the ash trays, empty booze bottles, and so on.
Man, that place really stunk and smelled bad! All the people in there were high/fucked up. So, Mike C. then says to Sly, “You remember my drummer Angel?” and Sly yells out to the rest of the room, “ That’s Angel” and they all kind of say, Hey there or something like that. I asked Sly about his horses and he told me, that’s just for looks and that I don’t have horses and I never will. I just said something like, that’s cool and that was it.
All MC went there for was just to get hooked up and that was it!!! We did not stay very long and then we just took off as fast as we came.
That is about all I can really tell you about Sly and his place in Novato.
When it came to music/drumming I would give Michael ideas about beats and he would always knock them down. It all was a fast-paced kind of life back then with those guys and it’s somewhat hard to remember it all!!!
Mike Carabello had a problem with Tommy who was Mimi’s first husband (Mimi subsequently married Mike Carabello) and Tommy was father to their daughter Dawn. One day he showed up at the house in Fairfax where the band got together for a meeting or something like that. They started at each other and the next thing they are out in the street fighting and just going at it. The police finally showed up but it was all over. Mimi passed away. I am not sure when but I had been out of touch with Carabello, so I do not know the whole details.
I lived with Mike at his house in Fairfax, Marin County. This was during my Attitude days; I lived there for a little while.
Mimi and Mike used to really get into it. One night Mimi came into my bedroom crying and I can hear Mike yelling at her and all pissed off.
I calmed him down and he went back to his room and after settling Mimi down she would go back to their room.
This got old and not that I am saying that happened like that all the time but they would get into it at kinda’ different times!

I do remember one time when Michael received his quarter royalties. He said and I think that it was about $35,000 he got and he throws it onto the bed out of a Wells Fargo bank bag and the dollars go flying right on the bed. He threw me some money and told me to go get lost, playing around. Mike was a generous kinda’ guy when he had money but it would not last long! Mimi was a very beautiful, classy, and polite women who supported MC all the way even at his worst and during the times he would treat her bad.
Mimi’s daughter Dawn is also as beautiful as her mom. I wonder how old Dawn is now and where she is? All I know is that Mimi was good to me and always treated me with respect. Yes, I also lost track of MC and I do not know when Mimi passed away. Mimi, God bless you and may you rest in peace!!! I finally moved out and back to the City.

(Jim, when you asked me where that Attitude picture was taken at where I am standing on the far right side of a b&w picture? I replied to you that that picture was taken in a building on 6th Street, between Folsom Street or Harrison Street in San Francisco. I do not remember who’s idea it was to take that picture there. That is one of my favorite picture’s of the Attitude Band!!!)

Michael had a real bad attitude. Actually we used to play a song, BAD CONDITIONS. I really liked that song. I think Abel Zarate and Mike wrote that one.
(Jim note; The song was written by Abel Zarate with added lyrics by conguero Jose Sierra – the song may have changed by it’s recording date)
Pretty Little Girl! That song was composed by Mike Sasaki and recorded at the Record Plant. Mickey Hart was the engineer. (Pretty Little Girl was released by Attitude on Armstrong Records as a 45rpm)
Armstrong Records was Mike Carabello’s idea and his baby. He named that after his dog Armstrong. Yesterday’s Love was the B-side of the single and was composed by Abel Zarate and Carabello. This song is kinda’ like an Earth Wind, & Fire tune. I know that because when Dave and I worked out the bass and drums parts, we thought of Earth Wind & Fire.
This song had a beat like that old song The Letter, except a bit faster but you know, “give me a ticket for an airplane”….and so on. (Jim note: Originally recorded by The Boxtops with Alex Chilton, who went on to form the feted cult band Big Star)
The Attitude band was like a Latin Rock band with mostly original material.

Angel describes his styles of drumming, relating to the Latin rock scene……………

In terms of drum styles, for Rubicon, I did not use Latin Rock style drumming. Rubicon was more of a funk/rock band that later ended up with a sound of solid Rock & Roll band. Hearing and learning to play funk drumming like from Cold Blood, Tower of Power, Sly & the family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire back in my/the early day’s in LA was easy to pick up and fit right on in with Rubicon’s original funk/rock sound . My drumming styles like big band, Jazz, fusion/time meters, Latin Rock, Salsa funk, marching band/drum corp., top 40, hell even Disco drumming but for Rock & Roll drumming was and is not my forte! So with all of the drumming that I learned I figured out how to incorporate all of these different drum beats when and if needed!!!
Now as for Cobra and Attitude band! I had Latin Rock drumming already under my belt from L.A. days with El Chicano and the other bands that I mentioned to you before.

The Attitude band recorded at The Automatt Studios on Folsom Street in San Francisco. Micky Hart was the engineer and assistant producer to Mike Carabello.

(Jim note: Carey Williams was a SF based R&B and soul singer and he recalls some of the early Attitude recordings, he also played possibly the first gig with Attitude. “Hey Jim, The songs I have digitized that I sang lead and background vocals on in the studio are, Bad Conditions, It’s You and Keep On Dancin’. I think this was the very beginning of the band Attitude with Pablo on bass. Or, maybe it was Pablo starting his own thing and then it became Attitude. I also have two songs that I’m singing on and wrote the lyrics for from one of the first, if not the first live gig that Attitude did somewhere in Marin or Sonoma county. The songs are, It’s An Attitude and Why Do You Treat Me So?
I left the band shortly after that live gig so there are no pictures of me with the band that I know of or can remember being taken. I never recorded with Coke, I just sang background vocals in his live band and a little lead when the lead singer didn’t show up (who’s name escapes me at the moment – Erroll Knowles??). It was for a very short time, maybe two to three months, near the end of his life.” Carey Williams was also in another SF based grupo called The Force with Abel Zarate and Jose Sierra.

As I mentioned to you before David liked Asian girls and so did I. We both had what they used to call, yellow fever. He had a Japanese girlfriend named Cookie. Cookie had a Chinese girl friend that later on we hooked up and we even had a child and that was in 1980. I had to go to work and Christina’s family owned a meat market in Chinatown San Francisco on Stockton Street, it was called Hop Sang/El Dorado Meat Co.
I had to go to work for them to support my new family.
I had no choice but to go to work. I delivered Pigs/hogs all thru the Bay Area. I then stopped playing drums/music for about four years and just worked and raised my son Angel.

The beginnings and spread of freebase cocaine in San Francisco………
Yes dangerous! Dangerous is right. I got out in time because I started to get sucked into that cocaine and smoking crack, that was no good!!! Chepito, Mike and David are the ones that turned me onto that horrible drug. I am not saying I am an angel, I was curious. But I am glad that I got out. You are right; crack came out in the 80s but the original name was free-basing, that I was introduced to in 1975/76. That shit is so bad and so dangerous. I loved it though when I first got turned on to it from whom I mentioned to you before. It was hard to quit but I did and have had to quit off and on. The rest of this story will tell you that and especially at the end of this interview. Yea’ if you could not afford it or run out of money, you would hawk you stuff at the nearest pawn shop, or just sell it. I once did both back then. I am not perfect either for I also carry many old demons on my back that like to knock on my heart and brain. I have been off and on and that did not help my success, I would think!
So it is not only dangerous but also losing one’s self respect and honor!!! Meeting Christina and having a baby was a blessing in disguise.

(Jim note; I enclose this quote from Herbie Herbert; who road-managed the original Santana and was on hand to witness the totally destructive effects of cocaine on the band from mid to later 1970 thru 1971. And this was way before freebasing hit the Californian drug scene.
“Cocaine is such a habitual top thing and you take a one-on-one and you become a new man and then the trouble is the new man needs to get high. Repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat at all costs. Pretty soon, you can’t have a conversation, you can’t take a shit, you can’t think, you don’t wanna’ do anything until you’ve had a bump. Then when you’ve had a bump, the new guy wants to have a bump and that’s his priority. And it goes on and on and you think you’re being great, you think you’re being creative and your really just bouncing off a non-existent cocaine wall.

“ All of a sudden, when the realisation comes that, Holy Shit, I’m not making any fucking sense, this is not my best creative work, it’s not even buyable, by the time you realise that, it’s often too late!”)

When I was living in Mill Valley. David would come over a lot and he knew that I would not turn him away. He did once in a while, put me up in his apartment in San Rafael when Mike and Mimi would argue. Dave would just let me stay at his place. So between both places and spending time with him all he wanted was to smoke that freebase, as far as I was concerned. I never practiced with him like one-on-one bass and drums and that was too bad. He was so caught up into that shit, running all around town like a chicken’s head cut off!
Once he said to me, you want to get high?? We got really drunk and then he pulled out his pipe and butane torch that he carried with him in his bag all the time and started to smoke and told me and here is where we have to be careful. David told me that he was going to blow the second hand smoke of the freebase into my mouth. Damn, I did it and that shit was so strong, that it really worked. Dave knew all of the tricks when it came to that. His lips on mine; blowing that shit into me. Remember me telling you at the time that he broke into my house and stealing my TV. I got it back, thanks to Dave’s mother. I felt so sorry for David’s mom and Dad, having to see his son go thru what he did. You know his dad was a preacher. David also had two wonderful sisters. Jan and I forgot the other one’s name? (Jim note; her name is Diane)

I did not know Alberto Gianquinto, Ron Estrada, or Rico Reyes that well. I was just introduced to them or when they would show up to a gig and Carabello, Cheppy and/or David would invite them up from the audience to sit in.
Stan Marcum! What a piece of work he was. He seemed to always look like he had not taken a shower for days and was really scruffy looking with his cloths wrinkled. Every once in a while I would go to his house with Carabello. Stan had a corner lot four-bedroom house with a pool in Novato in Marin. Man that place was filthy and was flea infested all inside the house on the carpet, curtains etc. but they did not seem to care because it was all about getting high. Stan was too much, for if he did not have a pipe around, he would get tin foil and make a pipe out of that or what ever it took. I hated going there!!! Michael knew that I hated going to Stan’s place and plus I would tell him that it’s a flea invested place and he would just laugh about and say we are not going there but would still end up going there. I did get high with them smoking that shit. After a while I would tell Carabello that I am not going with you anymore but he would say something like we’re off to the store or whatever is where were going, but we would still end up going to Stan’s house, SHIT!!!
I’ll tell you something though; Stan cared about and loved the Attitude band. Stan would always make sure that the band had all what we needed at gigs, rehearsals, or at band meetings and he was a very polite person!
Is Stan Marcum still alive? (Jim note- Stan died in 2010. I believe and there was an obit in the San Francisco Chronicle, according to Herbie Herbert).

Richard Kermode! Now that is another sad story. I worked with RK in the SF All Stars band, in the Francisco Aguabello band, and he played with me in the Bandido band for awhile. The Bandido band is where he got his nickname, “BATHROOM RICHARD”. Every time we did a gig, rehearsal, stay at hotels while travelling we would be looking for him and most of the time we would find him in the bathroom or he would tell us that I’m going to bathroom and time would go by so we would check on him and he would come out all fucked up and nod out. There where times while on stage during our performance RK would just nod out right on stage and we would yell out, “HEY RICHARD WAKE UP” or “RICHARD SOLO”!!!
I’ll tell you one thing, when he’d snap out of it and it was time for his solo RK would just rip out these incredible solo’s really amazing I don’t know how he would do it but he would just kick ass on his piano solo. I do want say even thru all of this, that Richard was a very humble person.
There was this time when we did a gig in Sacramento with The Francisco Aguabello Band. I drove up and back in a van after the gig driving back he was nodding in and out and I well we all thought there he goes again. The band was hungry and it was very early in the morning and we where almost home in SF but we all wanted to stop off at Denny’s in Vallejo. RK was sitting in the back in the middle of the seat and we where yelling to him wake up do you want to eat we are going to stop so I pulled a fast one that I feel bad about it now but anyway during the exit off the freeway almost to the stop sign I hit the brakes and RK went rolling over and woke up. We all started laughing but he was pissed off, he got over it! Yea, I know what a dirty trick but it woke him up!
There is song that RK composed that was recorded on Santana’s Welcome album called Yours Is The Light. I love that song and RK showed it to me and to this day I perform that song on the drums and my piano & vocal solo act that I do here. I also learned it on bass for I play bass here with the blues, rock and jazz bands around the area. I am having fun doing that! Thank you Richard Kermode I miss our magical music times together. Richard, may you rest in peace my dear old Friend!

We also did gigs with the Hiroshima Band. David Brown got us a couple of gigs. They opened up for Attitude. Wow, what a great band that was and still is. (Named for the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the band is best-known for the fusing of Japanese musicand other forms of world musicinto its playing. Its early jazz-pop R&Bsound gave the group a huge following among the African Americancommunity and they are regarded as musical pioneers among the Asian Americanand Japanese Americancommunity)

We played in San Francisco’s Japan Town for the Cherry Blossom Festival. What a fantastic gig that was.
David knew those guys and they were from the Los Angeles area. Dave would often go to L.A. to visit and play with them and other bands. That is all I know about that! (Jim note: According to David’s sister Jan; he also had a band called Bad Baby out of L.A. for awhile but he was not motivated to go out on the road with them).

As I mentioned before in 1980 I had met David Brown’s girlfriend Cookie’s friend Christina. Dave and I both had the Yellow fever, we loved them Asian girls.
So 1980 since the band was not doing much and with the drugs happening the band started to fall apart. Mike tried from what I hear to keep the band going on. But I believe most of us got burned out by his bullshit. Plus all the drugs and the attitude! He went thru a lot of different musicians. Mike went thru a lot of different musician’s when I was with them. Seems that people would get tired of his bullshit, attitude and his fast-paced life, trying to keep up with him. He had a rough way about himself. The healthy times is when he would tell me that “I will be back, that I am going to play tennis with Carlos”, Yeah right! I never saw that. Maybe it was true who knows but you could not always believe what MC said.
I had a child with Christina and then had to go to work and start supporting my new family. I ended up working for her family’s business, HOP SANG. You know the rest of the story from my earlier statements.
That is all I know. I got out of the music business and or playing drums for about 4 to 5 years?

What did I do then! After working for 4 to 5 years at Hop Sang driving & delivering pigs/hogs that weighed from 100 to 200 pounds each travelling 5 days a week from San Francisco to Modesto to San Jose and back to SF. I really started to miss the music scene and playing my drums with a band or jamming. My wife was not happy and she told me that you have a family now and you best continue working!
Ha, I thought to myself. I am going to start playing the drums one way or another. So I started to go out to clubs in the city and checking out bands. One night I went to this club on Geary Avenue called the Brick House I think Rick was the owner name?

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Playing with Bandido/Puro Bandido from the Mission…….
Well, There is where I met Jose Mayorga. Jose heard me sitting in with a band there that night and if I remember right the bands name that I sat in was called, Beluga Wale. So after me sitting in playing a couple of songs I went back to the bar and that is when Jose approached me and said, My band can use a drummer like you. Oh yea’ I said and he said, Yea’! He gave me a tape and his phone number and told me to call him.
One week later I called him after hearing the tape. The band on the tape was Bandido and that was in the winter of 1984.
I thought that the band sounded pretty good back then and this would give me a chance to get back in the saddle playing drums.
Jose was the $ backer and front man and not much of a singer but he sure looked great on stage, the women loved him!! Bandido used to rehearse in the back room of Albert Giles’ mothers flower shop on Mission Street. That was a really cool place. Well that is what happened to me and I could not tell you it was 1999 in Seattle because there is more to come on Bandido and your other questions.

Bandido was the original name. I was with in the band from 1984 to 1997 then I left to Seattle and lived in Seattle from 1997 till 2000 to do my own material land CD, since Bandido was not interested with my songs anyway!
In 2000 I reunited with Bandido. The band had changed there name to Puro Bandido (pure bandido). I thought that was a stupid name and I still do! It was bad enough that Jose was a real bandido. Jose was a cat burglar and drug dealer. I found this out in 1986; I always wondered where the money came from? Jose would get us any music equipment, drugs, SIR rehearsal time and the recording time that we did at Fantasy Studios.
(Jim note; Jose Sierra, a conguero based around the Mission and who played often with Abel Zarate, had also played with Richard Segovia (Bandido timbalero) in a much heralded Latin band called TNT. Also, Segovia was in another much-touted band called Mabuhay, who apparently recorded an album’s worth of material for Warner Brothers that got shelved, due to record company inner reshuffling. Freddie Ancheta; bassist with Cobra was another instrumental player in that outfit).

Yes it is all true about Jose Mayorga, who was also the band leader and founder of Bandido band.It was the recording that was engineered by Fred Catero at Fantasy Studios in 1987. Jose paid for it all. Studio time, musicians, music equipment, S.I.R studio time, food, beer, drugs, and/or anything else we needed.
Jose loved his band. At last, the band finished that project but in 2005/6 the band recorded two more songs at a studio in SF of 3rd Street at Hunters Point. That was done/recorded threw Pro Tools and Jorge Santana got involved and helped write some of the material. (Donny Baldwin of Jefferson Starship recorded Latin Lover and I recorded Casa Bandido and the rest of the tunes. Jim note; both these can be found on Jorge Santana’s Here I Am CD recording, they are really raw, funky Mission style Latin rap and salsafied rock- both cuts are excellent!)
The Puro Bandido CD eventually came out in late 2007)
Yes, the band was into drugs. Shit, I can’t get away from that scene I thought to myself again but there I was!!! The band was a bunch of great guys and some good talent. Bandido did a lot of cool gigs and the band almost broke up when Jose Mayorga was assaulted at SIR Studios one night during one of our practices in 1986. Jose was in a coma for quite a while. He passed away not to long after that.

Jose had a big mouth and the way that he used to dress up was kind of a crossover of drag and/or a pirate look. Men did not like him, is what I seen when we would go out or do a gig. He had a unique way with women though, they loved him and men would not like that. We thought it was great but he did have a big mouth and since he could almost get anything he wanted and or he would push his weight around at times. I myself, along with the rest of the band would some times get so pissed off at him, that all you wanted to do is to punch his lights out, but you never ever did!
Would you believe that the argument was all about a song. Well, this ex-boxer that he pissed off was not a good thing I was there in the lobby of SIR when that happened. Both guys were arguing and you can just see it coming. Jose’s mistake was that he threw the first punch and the guy used his leverage of the fist coming at him. He just threw him over his shoulders and he landed towards the Leslie speaker and hit his head and then that fucker started to kick him when he was down. I started to stop him and this guy gave me look like, you are next. I will never forget that and knowing better I stayed clear and told the guy in charge that night at SIR to call the police and ambulance. Jose Mayorga was in a coma for months at the Laguna Honda Hospital in the city. After about a couple of years, he passed way.

We, the band got back together and we carried on but the recording from Fantasy that we did, that by the way, which Fred Catero engineered, got shelved.
The Puro Bandido CD was finally released in 2007/8 titled, “we don’t need no stinkin’ badges”.
I at this time moved to Mexico in February 2008.
They got a new drummer and I do not know who it is for they keep changing drummers from what I hear???
Jorge Santana is on it and so is Johnny Gunn from the Eddie Money Band and other guest musicians.

San Francisco All-Star band was a fucken’ hot band!!! That was in 1985/86/97 round about that time.
We would get together without practicing once in a while when it was possible to do a performance around the Bay Area. Each musician played or worked with other bands so this was really just for fun getting together, we were buddy’s like.
Eric McCann on bass from the Al Dimiola band & Mingo Lewis’s earlier band.
Able Zarate – Guitar & Vocals
Norbert Stachel – Tenor sax & Flute
Mario Sanchez – congas from the Chepito’s band and recorded congas on that album that we talked about (???)
Richard Kermode -Piano
Rolando Sanchez – Timbales – Mario Sanchez, his brother and sometimes Pete Escovedo
Angel Orozco – drums

The last days of David Brown………..
What happened to David Brown! I believe, after all the fucking around and hanging around with no good people from the Tenderloin district or wherever? That is where I saw him two different times when driving thru the city to get to North Beach/Chinatown where I lived. Dave motioned me over from the sidewalk the first time and the second time he was crossing the street, I felt so bad but I kept on driving. David was not looking good. I had heard that he had contracted Aids and the way he was dressed both times when I saw him in real flimsy tie-dye material and lost so much weight that I did not recognize him. That was just right before he died. It was really sad to see!
What happened is that David finally contracted the Aids virus and passed away. It was just a matter of time. When I seen him last he looked so bad that I hardly recognized him.
David Brown passed away in 2000, was it that year? (Yes it was – September 2000 – Jim note) I lost touch with David during his last years. It broke my heart to see him going down and I knew that there was nothing that I can do. I would tell David to stop and get some help, I am and I did! As I mentioned to you in one of the previous questions, I fell back into drugs again and when I saw that I was headed in the same direction as David and knew then that I had to stop or I am going to end up like David and die! (Angel is now clean and sober since 2007, for four years- God Bless you Angel!) My dear old friend David; God bless you.
David’s funeral! That was a very sad day for me. Dave may have been lost in a crazy world of drugs and that terrible disease of aids but I’ll tell you one thing, HE HAD A HEART OF GOLD!!! I don’t care what anybody says; he treated me with much respect at least when he wasn’t lost, you know what I mean.
His funeral was in the city and I do not remember the name of the church or the preacher? It’s on the tip of my tongue.. (Jim note: David’s funeral was attended by both preachers Freddie Stewart (brother of Sly Stone) now with a church community in Vallejo, Ca. plus Leon Patillo, singer and keys on Santana Borboletta recording) Now a much recorded Christian artist and based as a preacher in Las Vegas)
Mike Carabello with Herbie Herbert was there and I think Greg did make it.
I went to the funeral by myself and took the bus that day. I did not go to the Interment in Colma. I was able pay my respect’s to Dave and my condolences to his family.
So relieved I was that Dave did not have to go thru all of that pain any longer. GOD BLESS YOU MY DEAR FRIEND AND MAY YOU REST IN PEACE!!!

Hi Jim! One more thing about 1999; I actually moved from SF to Seattle in 1997. Since I have family and good contacts for musicians, I went for it. Bandido was not interested to do my original material that I had.
I hooked up with Lee Oskar of the original War band and he did some gigs with my band. The band was a 12 to 14 piece band. We did some great gigs. Lee played at the Orozco band’s CD release party, WOW! That was great show. What a cool sound we had.
It rains a lot in Seattle and some gigs would get rained out. The summer time was and still is the best time there in Seattle. I moved back to San Francisco in 2000.

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I have to update you on my life and times! After so much disappointment in the music business and not enough gigs to support myself I went back to work again for my Chinese family’s Hop Sang Meat Co. in Chinatown driving/delivering pigs/hogs all threw the bay area again! It was tough and I off and on would play with Bandido but that was not really happening or going anywhere. There is a trumpet player by the name of Lance Gurner, who I met in the city. I was telling him how hard it is to support yourself in music here in the city and that I have a day job and I still was not making my bills and Jim just so you know, I was not on that shit then and I was clean. Anyway it got real expensive to live in the city and then the Dot Com thing, the housing/rent went up everything went up. I just had to work harder and more overtime. Lance hooked me up with the music director for Green Street Funarla Memorial band. He told me it was boring music but it paid scale and you know those hymns and that I could be marching up and down the streets of North Beach and Chinatown and make some dollars but that I had to join the musicians union so I did Local #6 and they put me to work. I now had two jobs the meat co. and the memorial band. We would do 3 to 4 services both on Saturdays and Sundays and once in a while during the week that I would have to ask Uncle Burt, my son’s grandfather who owned Hop Sang to have part of the day off and he would. I did this from 2000 to 2004 when Hop Sang finally closed the meat co. and rebuild the building to rent out for a store front and upstairs for rentals that was already happening but fixed up better. I ended up as the building manager and I got my room rent-free, I just had to manage the place.
After Hop Sang closed I found out during one of the funeral services that the Funarla Parlor was looking for a driver so I applied and having an in with the company for playing in there Green Street Memorial Band I was hired. Little did I know that a driver was not just a Limo driver or flower delivery in their vans. No, I had to do human removals I was not ready for this but I took the bull by the horns and went for it. This is where I saw the most gory things in my life. I moved and delivered so many dead people that you cannot imagine how horrible that was. The company went thru a lot of drivers because of that. Once I mentioned to the manager that I did not know that I was going to be doing this kind of work and he said, if you don’t like it quit. They were so used to saying that I bet but I stood up to him and said, FINE!!! I was hired at Green Street Memorial Funarla Home in March 2005 and was fired June 2007. I got back on that shit during this time and I was so fucked up between seeing so much death and started smoking that crack again, that was so easy to get from the blacks who had it across the street in the projects. I started to flake out so much and sold all of my shit and I used money that I should not have and did not care about work, music, friends and most importantly my son and family. My situation was bad and I would call my mom and they started to figure it out and told my brothers and dad about it that at that time lived in Tacoma, Washington.
Now my parents and two out of all the five brothers invested money and built their houses here. My mom and dad are now retired and their plan as they did, is to move to Mexico and live in their dream house where they now live. Since my situation was bad and there was no rehab or any of those kind of places that would of worked for me, I was to move to Mexico. A whole new life for me, start all over!!!

Tony, my fourth brother out of five flew to SF and came to my place in Chinatown. When he showed up I was on the verge of probably committing suicide, I was so fucked up. Tony was knocking on the door and yelling Angel, Angel, hey Angel it’s Tony! Holy shit! I barely remember and I answered the door and he was so pissed of that he told me to get your stuff you are coming back to Tacoma with me. I told him I just can’t leave and so he came back with a Richard a friend of mine to get me out of there. I argued but they finally got me and talked me in to it.
Tony said that they would come back tomorrow in the morning and to be ready because our flight will be that afternoon to Seattle/Tacoma. Later on that night it all hit me and I started to pack and throw all of my crap away. Pack whatever I could in boxes and moved all of my furniture except my bed onto the sidewalk. The next morning all that stuff was gone and when Tony showed up he got my luggage and said, here we go say good by to SF, so I did.
Thank you Tony, Angel/son, mom, dad and my other brothers, family and Susan for all of your support. I love you all!!!
With all that love and support that I have here and meeting more Orozco family here in Mexico and also meeting so many cool tourists from all around the world that I have found tranquillity and am able to once again be inspired to play my music. I even got into gardening. There is so much beauty in our world that it is so sad to see people fall apart into a life of drugs or crime!
Jim, I would say that’s how I got clean at least it did for me and to have your family step up to the plate when a family member is down no matter what”!!!

Angel Orozco Jr

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The life and times of a Latin Rock drummer…………

Angel Orozco Jr. Norwalk, Ca

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Angel Orozco; although not known in the forefront of the Latin Rock vanguard, is a sterling example of a versatile drummer whose musical career has traversed a varied gamut of bands and players thru the seventies and eighties and into the nineties. He has played with, among others, Poncho Sanchez, El Chicano, Evil, Thee Midniters with Willie G, Changing Times, Chepito Areas and Cobra, Rubicon (with Jerry Martini), Attitude (with Chepito, Mike Carabello, Karl Perazzo and David Brown) and Puro Bandido as well.

Please note this an honest, unflinching account of hard, riotous times in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Those of a more sensitive disposition can choose not to read. It contains stories of hard drug usage plus the resultant crazed behaviour that comes with this territory. Many people from that Latin Rock era fell foul of these new narcotics (especially the revival in wide spread cocaine and heroin use) that engulfed the USA from the early 1970’s onwards. If the Latin rock scene is a microcosm of the entire USA music scene, then God help musicians and others, then and now! Particularly then, as the encroaching dangers from these drugs, were not entirely evident to these musicos; at least at first.

As someone who has been in recovery and clean and sober for nearly twenty-six years, a day at a time, my heart goes out to these dazzling young persons, who fell foul of this modern-day pestilence that destroyed their talent and opportunities and that has and is sweeping our world! The historic bubonic plague has got nothing on this horrendous, malevolent epidemic!

Angel describes his early days in Norwalk, Los Angeles and how he got involved in the music game. Angel is an engaging and “ Voice of Latin Rock.

To start off with, I started on the trumpet that my father taught me. He was a big fan of the big band jazz orchestras and he always played that music and old jazz classics. I was 5 years old when I started to actually play every day. By the time I was in 4th, 5th and 6th grade I was asked to play the, call to the colors of the rising of the American flag at D.D. Johnston Elementary School in Norwalk, Ca. I never missed a day. My mother made sure of that!
By the time I was in 6th grade the song Wipe Out that had that cool drum solo in and out thru the song. I fell in love with the sound of the drums. Then The Beatles came out and Herb Albert, The Monkees and so many other cool bands during that time. My mother bought me my first snare drum at a garage sale. I picked the drums like I knew I would. I taught myself and my 1st song was, you guessed it, Wipe Out. I was so popular for playing that song. So with that, I wanted a drum set and I would use old pots and pans or what ever worked and started jamming away.
During all of my school days I always was in the school bands playing the trumpet from 4th grade up until the 10th grade. I only played trumpet in the 9th for the Excelsior High School Band.
I auditioned for the school drum squad and got the part starting with the bass drum but that did not last long, maybe two months then I was moved up to the snare drum. I was so happy. I even auditioned for the jazz band and got the part!
My grandfather bought me my first drum set for Christmas in the 9th grade so I started practicing a lot. I drove our neighbours crazy!!
Ramon Banda was my school friend that played drums but mostly the timbales. He turned me on to the sounds of salsa, Santana and other Latin music. Man I feel in love with that sound and I said to my self I got learn that type of music. I started to jam with Ramon and listening carefully to that sound and practiced my ass off. Ramon went off to play with another Norwalk friend, Poncho Sanchez. Ramon & Poncho were very tight friends. I got to know Poncho real good. We used to jam, house parties and concerts all around the Los Angeles area.

Ramon Banda is the same age as I. We went to school and graduated together. Ramon did not get involved in the high school band like I was. Ramon was more into Latin jazz/salsa kind of music/style that I was not aware of back then!
I spend all the time with the marching band, pep band, jazz big band, and the orchestra band. Rehearsing even before classes in the mornings and after school practicing our marches or the drummers practicing our drum cadence and so on. I was very fortunate to be able to participate in all of those class’s that kept busy and out of trouble. I did not get to know Ramon Banda until I graduated. Poncho was introduced to me by Ramon who in my senior year. They had both had started a band called, Sabor. Sabor was a mix of salsa and a bit of James Brown, whom they both liked so much; otherwise it was all salsa Latin jazz. Poncho did not go to the same school as I did and I think if I remember right, Poncho dropped out of high school? Ramon and Poncho are pretty alike, they are both funny and they liked to go fishing a lot, eating lots of Mexican food but somewhat reserved.
Ramon and Poncho are just some of musicians back then, man there where a lot of talented musicians back in those days in the Norwalk California.
I was in that band Evil and I was doing or playing with a lot of groups and attending different colleges that kept me busy so I did not hang out with them that much.
I am very proud of both Ramon and Poncho. I here from them once in a while, mainly Ramon Banda! There are both doing very well. Ramon Banda played with Poncho until sometime in the 90s, I don’t know exactly?
Once in a while I would call Ramon to do drum gigs when and if I could not make them. I was gigging a lot back then.
When I moved to the Bay Area I was pretty much not in touch with them.

I asked Angel about his early influences.
My influences! Let me see, there where so many and still are. Elvin Jones, Sonny Pain from the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Ralph Humphreys from the Don Ellis Electric Orchestra, Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Peter Erskine, Steve Gadd, Airto and Louie Bellson who was my old drum teacher that used to teach at the Hollywood Drum Shop. Also, David Garibaldi from Tower Of Power, how could I forget Dave G. Who I did have the honor of meeting and spending time with him and DG showed me some of his drum beats. What a hell of funky drummer. And that is to name but a few!

I was very fortunate at my High school because after my 9th grade that I was playing trumpet, our music teacher quit and a new music teacher was hired. John Prince was a wonderful teacher. He gave me the chance to audition on the drums even though the other kids told the music teacher that I played trumpet. He told the kids that I had the right to audition for the drums and if I did good, it would only be fair to give me the chance! Our music teacher spend a lot of time with the students and during the summer he would let us know that there are summer school music classes and work shops at different college’s. This helped me to know where all the good schools and musicians were at!
Our high school even won 1st place in a band competition. That was my 1st record that I recorded on a trap drum set. I wish I had a copy but I lost that with some other cool things a while back, too bad!!! The year was 1970 when Excelsior High School Jazz band under the direction of John Prince!
We won 1st place that year

The Corona Jazz festival/competition in Corona, Ca. was where that event was held. Creative World Music was the one that recorded that concert performed by 1st, 2nd and 3rd place band winners. I think for it was so long ago but the Stan Kenton band also performed that night.
That was so exciting for the band to win 1st place. We cheered all the way back home on the school bus GO PILOTS GO, for we are the Excelsior High School Pilot band!
When I graduated high school in 1972. I immediately attended Cerritos College, East Los Angeles City College, Rio Honda College from 1972 to 1974. E.L.A. City College went to Mexico City for a tour that had one College Jazz Big Band and from each state. East Los Angeles City College was picked to represent California. That was a lot of fun. We also played at other small pueblos near by Mexico City.
I was a very active drummer. I never could play enough and or go to listen with my college band companions to check all kinds of great different types of music/bands.
The Stan Kenton Summer Clinics were my favorite music school. I attended the one at Irvine California in 1971 and Sacramento in 1972. The Irvine Stan Kenton Clinic was my 2nd recording on the trap drum set. That recording was done by Stan Kenton’s and was calledCREATIVE WORLD MUSIC CORP.
1970 was the first time at the Corona High School jazz band competition at Corona, Ca with the Excelsior High School jazz band. The second recording for the Creative World Music recording was done when I attended the Stan Kenton clinics in the summer of 1971. I had to audition to be able to attend the clinics and I made playing it into the Mike Vax clinic band. Mike Vax was one of the five trumpet players for the Stan Kenton Band
The way it worked is that you would audition and you would get so many points and then you get placed depending how good you were. The teachers were the musicians from Stan Kenton’s band. I met a lot of great drummers there and other musicians threw the S.K. clinics. At the Stan Kenton Clinics at Redlands, Ca, it was five days from Monday to Friday. Friday was the concert and recording from Creative World Music of all the bands that where under the direction of S.K. band members. As I said I was with the Mike Vax clinic band. There is where I met Peter Erskine who later played with Stan Kenton’s band, plus Maynard Ferguson and many other students. Jeff and Joe Porcaro was also two of many others that attended the clinic. Jeff went on to do the TOTO band and also many other greats.

When Stan Kenton passed away he donated all of his music arrangements and creative world music, records and archives to Texas State University. At least that is what I was told! Our High school teacher John Prince left one year later after my graduation. He was hired at Long Beach State University. I called him up and asked him if I had a chance to audition or if I was good enough. Well I auditioned and attended the Wednesday night Jazz band. I only attended for one year and that was in 1975.

As I mentioned to you before, I was a very active drummer and also played with different bands in the LA area. I was also a member of the Musician’s Union Local #47.
My passion for playing drums was pretty intense. I even decided to start my own band. Lynn Farney/bass, Ron Vermillion/trumpet and I started our band EVIL during my first year in Cerritos College back in 1973. I’ll Get to the Evil Band a bit later to continue to stay in order!
Attached are, E.L.A. City College Band concert photos. Me on drums and Pete Christlieb from at that time, the Doc Severson Big Band for the Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and also tenor sax on all of Steely Dan’s Asia Album.  The other picture is fro l to r, Roland Mendoza/Friend, Ramon Lopez/congeuro for Stan Kenton Band, Roy Reynolds/Baritone Sax for Stan Kenton Band and me.

The 3rd album that I recorded on was SIMPLY MACRAME with the Bobby Rodriguez Latin Jazz Band. That was a hot band and a hot recording. (Released on Jazzman Records and still available to buy on eBay and various vinyl sites on the web).
Leon ‘Ndugu’ Chancler played drums and that is when I met him and he introduced me to a lot of people. One of my favorites was the George Duke band whom he played drums with; they were great and still are!!!
Bobby Rodriguez also introduced me to a lot of other great musicians and bands and that is when I met Bobby Espinosa of El Chicano; who I will later tell you about.

As I mentioned before, during Cerritos College we put the band Evil together. Well, this band got pretty popular and we even recorded at Wally Heiders Studios in Hollywood next to Shelly Mann’s Jazz hole, I think that was the name. It is so long ago that I can’t believe that I can remember some of these things but as I go along with our interview my brains somehow kicks out all of those old great memories.
Anyway, Evil played everywhere from L.A. to Palm Springs and all kinds of nice venues back then. Well, the band fell apart because our lead singer/guitar got into an accident. Brian Evens quit the band and told us that he has found God and turned to a Christian way of life. Brian was the main part of the act and was hard to replace. We tried but finally we broke up!

One day I got a call from Carmelo Garcia (the feted timbalero) and I could tell it was him because of his low raspy voice. Well he tells me that there are these three brothers from East L.A. that are looking for a drummer, Changing Times is the band and I am to be playing timbales and congas. I thought to myself, how can you play timbales and congas together at the same time. I knew Carmelo was a fantastic timbalero and also I thought, boy another band to play with and I’m still going to college. I did not care, for I had to see or should I say hear this, timbales and congas at the same time and it sounded like a pretty cool band as he kept telling me about it. I told Carmelo, sure I will go and check it out to see if I like it or even more important if they like my drumming. I could not believe it; Carmelo was playing timbales and congas. Next thing I am rehearsing twice a week and played gigs and recorded with them.

We even met Stevie Wonder because Carmelo recorded an album with him. I think it was the one with one with the butterflies, I do not remember. (Jim note; Hungria Carmelo Garcia is credited on Songs In The Key Of Life. Mike Carabello also told he played on those recordings but was uncredited on the sleeve). Anyway, we got to go to Stevie Wonders studio and meet the band. We tried to get him to back us but some how that did not work out. I think it had to do with Carmelo’s behavior at the end. He got pretty raw, there where so many embarrassing moments that I could not tell them all and maybe it should be left like that. God bless you Carmelo but boy could he play.

Carmelo Garcia was a very talented timbalero and conguero. His cocaine problem was all a new thing to me and I would not get involved with that at all, at least back then.
I remember after practice with the Changing Times band, we would take turns taking him home and during the ride home he would ask if I knew anybody so he go and score. I always smoked pot and he really did not care for that and I would tell him that is all I can get!
At times toward the end at the gigs he would find a way or someone would show up to the gig and hook him up with coke. Immediately right after he would get weird and start stroking his cock in public. Very embarrassing it was.

I used to carry around a couple of baseballs, softball, baseball bat and a couple of baseball mitts in the trunk of my car. I found out when one night at band practice in LA during the Changing Times band that Carmelo loved baseball. He told me that he was in a baseball team in Dominican Republic when he was young and that he was good at it. He sure proved that when I asked to do some catching of the baseball and hitting the ball. For a short cat he sure could throw that ball really fast and hit good. Carmelo, the band, and I loved baseball. I wish we would have done that more often, Carmelo would say, NOT TODAY!

If it was not for music I myself would of maybe went pro?
I sure love baseball up to today. Always have!!
Armando Peraza is the same way but only he is from Cuba, he told me that himself a while back at S.F. when one day I was hanging out with him.

Angel went on to another LA based group called Changing Times….
Changing Times was a Latin, fusion, jazz band. This when I met Wayne Bergeron trumpet player that is one of the top trumpet players in L.A. Check out his site on Facebook. There is lots of good info.
During Changing Times day’s back in 1973 thru to 1975, this would be the time that I met Willie G’ from Thee Midniters. I also got to play with that band and if it would not have been  for Carmelo and Willie G I would have not ever played with that band. Thank you Willie wherever you are. Thee Midniters band were a bunch of cool guys.
The line up for the Changing Times band was and I can not remember all of there last names and the most important one are the three brothers that started the band. I will try to remember or look for some more info if I can? I remembered the last name of the last name of the three brothers that started Changing Times band, They were the Valenzuela brothers; Jaime, Javier, and Carlos Valenzuela.
But anyway the line up was for the picture I will attach is Jamie/singer & guitar, Javier/guitar, Carlos/bass, Wayne Bergeron/trumpet, Steve Price/trombone, Freddy/piano, Willie G/lead vocal & front man, Carmelo Garcia/timbales and congas and myself on drums!

Evil Band! This band as I mentioned before keeping it in that order was a doing funk and cover material like Tower Of Power, Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, Kool & The Gang, Earth Wind  & Fire, Santana, Malo, Azteca and our own material.
I told you earlier about the Evil band and how it got started by Lynn Farney, Ron Vermillion and myself on drums and I was also the band director and did the booking, how long and why the band broke up was also mentioned earlier, we lasted from 1972 /73 to 1975.
The band line up was: Brian Evens/lead singer and guitar, Lynn Farney/bass. Gabriel Padillas/B3 & piano, Roland Mendoza/conguero and vocals, Ron Vermillion/trumpet, Richard Torres/Sax, Rocky Robles/trombone & music arranger, & my self on drums & vocals. Sometimes we would use David Luell/tenor & baritone sax who played with Cold Blood and also with LA Express, when he was not busy. What a sax player he is, WOW!!!
We used to rehearse in Santa Fe Springs at Gabriel Padillas house once a week in the evening time from 7pm to 10pm sometimes 11pm but the neighbors would complain, so we would cut it short. I had a lot of fun with that band and I do miss my old partners from that time.
So like I said the band broke up because of Brian Evens automobile accident. That was too bad!!!

Thee Midniters and Willie G…………
Thee Midniters Band & Willie G’! It was an honor to get to play with those guy’s. They had a hit, LET’S TAKE A TRIP TO WHITTIER BOULEVARD. This song was very popular with the Chicano low riders. I used to play at a lot at the low rider magazine events with these guys. I was only the back up drummer so I did not become a full-time member and anyway, they ended up taking a break after many years of playing.
Huggy Boy was the name of their manager and he was the Bill Graham of East L.A. back then. Huggy Boy had a theater on the corner of Atlantic Boulevard and Whittier Boulevard, in East L.A. That was his office and also the Midniters headquarters. Wow, I can’t believe I am remembering this, It’s all a kinda’ blur to me!
(The band was also promoted by Dick “Huggy Boy” Hugg on local radio station KTYM, Inglewood and by his fill-in Godfrey [Godfrey Kerr]. Huggy Boy was later the most popular DJ on KRLA.)
Willie G’ Then moved to the Bay area and joined the Malo band. I think he recorded 2 albums? (Actually he recorded on Malo’s final Warner Brothers recording Ascension – Jim note). Willie told me that El Chicano was looking for a drummer and that is how I joined up with that band.

PART 2: Coming soon……………………..…….
Angel plays with El Chicano, Santana, Cobra, Chepito Areas, Rubicon (with Jerry Martini) Attitude (with Mike Carabello and David Brown), Puro Bandido and more…..

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