(pronounced: [los 'loßos\], Spanish for "The Wolves") are a multiple Grammy Award–winning American Chicano rock band from East Los Angeles, California. Their music is influenced by rock and roll, Tex-Mex, country, folk, R&B, blues, brown-eyed soul, and traditional music such as cumbia, boleros and norteños.1973–79: Formation and early releasesVocalist/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. 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." The two borrowed reel-to-reel recorders from a friend and created multi-track recordings of music spanning from parody songs to free-form jazz. They later enlisted fellow students Cesar Rosas and Conrad Lozano to complete the group's lineup in 1973. Their first album called 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 Blvd.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. 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. However, Los Lobos took notice of the popular groups on the Hollywood music scene, and added influences of rock to its sound.Originally, they called themselve Los Lobos del Este (de Los Angeles) ["The Wolves of the East (of Los Angeles)"\], which was a play on the name of a norteno band called Los Lobos del Norte and the fact that they (Los Lobos del Este) were from east L.A. The name was quickly shortened to Los Lobos.
1980–88: How Will the Wolf Survive? and commercial success
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 only sold about 50,000 copies. 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. 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. 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.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 entitled By the Light of the Moon. In the same year, they recorded some Ritchie Valens covers for the soundtrack to the film La Bamba
, including the title track which became a number one single for the band. In 1988 they followed with another album, titled La Pistola y El Corazón
featuring original and traditional Mexican songs.
1988–94: The Neighborhood and Kiko
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 twenty-year anniversary they released a two-CD collection of singles, out-takes, live recordings and hits entitled Just Another Band from East L.A.
1995–98: Papa's Dream and Colossal Head
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 Corazon
).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 performing "Pepe and Irene."
1999–2006: Signing to Mammoth Records and subsequent releases
Los Lobos signed to Mammoth Records in 1999, and released This Time
. Mammoth also reissued 1977's Del Este de Los Angeles
. In 2000, Rhino/Warner Archives released the Cancionero: Mas y Mas
boxed set.In 2002, the band released their Mammoth Records debut, Good Morning Aztlan
; they released The Ride
in 2004. The Ride
featured artists such as Tom Waits, Mavis Staples, Bobby Womack and Elvis Costello 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. The album's lyrics deal with Louis Perez's childhood in East Los Angeles while the music portrays complex and original soundscapes reminiscent of their previous release Kiko
. Cartoonist Jaime Hernandez did the artwork for the album. The album is told in the first-person, with each song serving as an episodic step.
2007–present: Tin Can Trust
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' 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.In 2013, the group toured Europe supporting Neil Young and Crazy Horse.