Rock en español is the Spanish-language rock music. While the term is used widely in English, it is used in Spanish mainly to distinguish such music from "Anglo rock." It is a style of rock music that developed in Spain, Latin American countries and Latino communities, along with other genres like Caribbean ska, reggae, and soca. Successful musicians and bands playing in this genre are often noted for being "crossover" artists, as this genre inherently bridges both linguistic and cultural boundaries.
Regional scenes (1950s–1970s)
Rock in Spanish began in 1958, when Ritchie Valens, born in California recorded Mexican folk song "La Bamba", popularizing Spanish-language rock music throughout Latin America. That year, Daniel Flores, another son of Mexican immigrants born in California, often called the "Godfather of Latin Rock", performed his hit song "Tequila", introducing this music to the United States.
The first Rock bands in Latin America were created in the late 50s and early 60s. Since 1959, several Mexican groups like Los Teen Tops, Los Blue Caps and Los Locos del Ritmo recorded Spanish versions of rock classics by Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Buddy Holly among others, which gained them popularity in Latin America. Successful covers included La Plaga (Good Golly Miss Molly) and Popotitos (Bony Moronie). In 1960, Argentinian Sandro de América, a rock musician with a very sensual style influenced by Elvis, later developed a style of pop music called Balada romántica Latinoamericana (Latin American romantic ballad).
By mid-decade the Mexican (later US citizen) Carlos Santana moved north to California and soon joined the burgeoning San Francisco rock scene. Forming the band Santana towards the end of the sixties, he would gather a shifting group of musicians from mixed Anglo-Saxon and Hispanic backgrounds; the band would become one of the more popular acts of the 1970s both in the U.S., in Mexico and in Europe and brought together elements of rock'n'roll and jazz with latin percussion and harmonics (as evidenced on e.g. Abraxas (1970) and Moonflower (1977)). The band would consistently alternate lyrics in Spanish and English; they were arguably the most successful crossover Latin/Anglo rock band to date, and were important in spreading interest in latin percussion and drumming around the world.
Although he does not consider himself a Rock en Español musician, Carlos Santana's background is that of a traditional Latin musician who has fused rock guitar (and jazz and salsa rhythms) with classic Latin American songs. His hit song "Oye Como Va" is an example of Santana's fusion, being a song composed by famous Latin jazz and mambo musician Tito Puente.
In the early 60s, a style of commercial rock music called Nueva ola (New wave) became popular in several Latin American countries. In Spain, the mid-1960s produced the bands Los Bravos, Los Brincos, Bruno Lomas y Los Rockeros, Los Canarios, Los Cheyennes, Fórmula V, Lone Star, Micky y Los Tonys, Los Mustang, Los Pekenikes, Pop Tops, Los Salvajes and Los Sírex.
Other Mexican bands like Los Lobos and the Malo group plays in parts of United States and the radio. In Mexico other groups like La Revolucion de Emiliano Zapata, Three Souls in my Mind, Toncho Pilatos, Javier Batiz (he is the teacher of Santana in Tijuana), Peace and Love and others playing songs in Spanish and English. The late 60s in Argentina brought a movement called "rock nacional" (Argentinean national rock). With a distinct musical style, it has become one of the most popular styles in that country, along with tango and folk music. Bands and musicians responsible for the movement are Los Gatos (led by Litto Nebbia), Arco Iris (led by Gustavo Santaolalla), Almendra (led by Luis Alberto Spinetta), Vox Dei, Sui Generis and Serú Girán (both led by Charly García). Argentinian national rock is linked with the sexual revolution of that country and the spirit of freedom against military dictatorships.
After the Falklands War in 1982, Argentine rock was reborn with bands like Soda Stereo, Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Sumo and others singers like Andres Calamaro and Fito Páez. The fall of the Nueva canción movement and the rise of the music industry in Latin America favoured the spread of "new" Caribbean styles (Cumbia, Salsa, Merengue) but also of Spanish language rock across the region.
It was from Argentina, where the most developed music industry and rock scene was, that Spanish language rock begun to be internationalized crossing the boundaries of countries to which each band had previously been more less limited to. Soda Stereo is largely credited to be the first Spanish language rock band to gain widespread popularity across Latin America. However, there was equal transnational success in the late 80s from fellow Argentines Enanitos Verdes, Spain's Hombres G, and Chile's Los Prisioneros during the same time period. Following Soda a series of other bands from Argentina, but also notably from Mexico, begun to grow audiences all across the Americas, such as Caifanes, El Tri, Los Abuelos, Divididos among others. Rock bands from Spain that flourished during and after La Movida Madrileña failed to gain popularity in Latin America during the 80s.
Recent times (90s onward)
The final amalgamation into a coherent international scene was helped by the introduction of MTV Latin America in 1993, where the first video shown; We are Sudamerican rockers by Los Prisioneros reflected its aims to create a Latin American scene. In the late 90s, MTV created the Latino Award in the MTV Video Music Awards and Premios MTV Latinoamérica in 2002, awards that recognize the talent and achievements of the genre. However, MTV Latin America were criticized for focusing primarily on rock bands from Argentina and Mexico, with the occasional band from Chile or Colombia. For example, bands on MTV Latino that received very regular airplay were Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Mano Negra, Café Tacvba, Soda Stereo, Aterciopelados, Maldita Vecindad, El Tri, Las Victimas del Doctor Cerebro, La Cuca, La Lupita and Babasonicos. This ignored other movements, such as the punk rock movement in Chile, or the chongo rock in Peru (e.g. Arena Hash, Los Nosequien y Los Nosecuantos, Sangre Purpura, Micky Gonzales).
In the 90s bands like Los Rodríguez and Héroes del Silencio bridged the gap between Spain and Spanish-speaking America by being the first rock bands to become popular both in the Americas and Europe.
In the late 80s to mid 90s, bands like Robi Draco Rosa, Caifanes, Café Tacuba, La Ley, initiated a new stage of Latin rock by broadening its international appeal. Since then, successful bands and musicians include Juanes (Colombia), Libido (Peru), Maná (Mexico), Jaguares (Mexico), Aterciopelados (Colombia), Bersuit Vergarabat (Argentina), Jorge Drexler (Uruguay), and Los Tres (Chile) among others.
In the 90s, rock bands experimented with fusing rock music and Latin American folk and African rhythms, with bands like Divididos, Las Pelotas, Los Piojos, Bersuit Vergarabat, Babasónicos, Catupecu Machu and La Renga.
Rock en español in the United States
Rock en español in California
Rock en español borrows heavily from rock and roll music and traditional and popular music of Spanish-speaking countries such as Cumbia, Ranchera, Rumba, and tango. In its 50 year history, it has evolved from having a cult-like following to being a more well established music genre.
In Los Angeles, an underground scene has developed and continues to flourish that supports the local rock en español acts. Top bands from the LA REE scene include Pastilla, Maria Fatal, Rascuache, Voz de Mano, Cabula, Las 15 letras, Verdadera FE, and Los Olvidadas.
Record labels that have supported US based REE include Aztlan records, El Mero Mero Records, and Mofo Records.
Chicano Rock Music is rock music performed by Mexican American groups or music with themes derived from Chicano culture. Chicano Rock, to a great extent, does not refer to any single style or approach. Some of the groups do not sing in Spanish at all, or use any specific Latin instruments or sounds. The main unifying factor, whether or not any Latin American music is heard, is a strong R&B influence, and a rather independent and rebellious approach to making music.
- Argentine rock
- Bolivian rock
- Chilean rock
- Costa Rican rock
- Colombian rock
- Cuban rock
- Dominican rock
- Ecuadorian rock
- Equatoguinean rock
- Guatemalan rock
- Honduran rock
- Mexican rock
- Nicaraguan rock
- Panamanian rock
- Paraguayan rock
- Peruvian rock
- Puerto Rican rock
- Salvadorean rock
- Spanish rock
- Uruguayan rock
- Venezuelan rock
- Charly Garcia
- Soda Stereo
- Latin Alternative
- Latin American music
- Brown-eyed soul
- Tejano music
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