El Chicano grew out of the Latin music scene from the streets of East Los Angeles. Originally as “The VIP’s”, founded by Freddie Sanchez, El Chicano was the most successful of the L.A. Latin Rock recording artists. Their seven album run for MCA Records included classic albums such as Viva Tirado, Celebration, Revolucion, El Chicano and Cinco.The song "Viva Tirado" (a tribute to Mexican bullfighter, Jose Ramon Tirado) composed by maestro Gerald Wilson, was their big crossover smash and garnered the group their first gold record in 1970, as well as "Jazz Group of the Year" as voted by Billboard and Cashbox.
The Revolucion album featured a beautiful ballad “Sabor A Mi ” which became an International hit and "Don't Put Me Down If I'm Brown" an Eastside anthem. The Celebration album featured a superb cover of Van Morrison’s composition "Brown Eyed Girl", highlighting the vocals of Freddie Sanchez and Steve Salas with a Latin rock groove - another gold classic. The group's recordings showed a versatile and wide ranging adaptation of many styles of music. “Tell Her She’s Lovely”, featuring the vocals of Jerry Salas, was another Top 40 hit in 1973 on the self-titled LP, El Chicano, that also went gold for the group.
Over a 40 year span, El Chicano has garnered five gold records and recorded ten LP's. Their music has been included in over 50 compilations, and has also been used on several major movies and television shows. The group has been honored several times for their contributions to community and charities that help children and the arts.
El Chicano has performed in venues worldwide with many major artists on their musical journey, and is still active in recording. Freddie Sanchez, Mickey Lespron and Jerry Salas have joined forces with renowned record producer Gerry Gallagher to work on new music for an upcoming CD featuring the distinctive El Chicano signature sound.
El Chicano was originally driven by the bluesy shades of Bobby Espinosa’s Hammond B3 organ sound. Adding in the groove bass lines of Freddie Sanchez, the jazz and rock guitar lead lines of Mickey Lespron, and percussion from Andre Baeza (congas),and John De Luna (drums) later adding Rudy Regalado (timbales) made El Chicano a musical force of Latin, rock, and jazz.
El Chicano is included as part of the "20TH CENTURY MASTERS/THE MILLENNIUM COLLECTION” featuring new “Best of” albums from the most significant music artists of the past century. The Collection has become the most successful artist series in music history.
El Chicano continues to perform, with a highlight being a special performance at the 40th anniversary of "WOODSTOCK, the WestFest" at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco where the group actually celebrated their own 40th Anniversary. The audience of thousands of fans gave them a well-deserved standing ovation and shouts of "Viva El Chicano"!
El Chicano is dedicated to continue with the musical legacy that was always done with music from the Heart! The focus for the group now is recording a brand new CD to be released in 2014!!!