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Mark & the Escorts with Lalo Guerrero In the 1960s

by Mark Guerrero

     My teenage band, Mark & the Escorts, had an association with my dad, Lalo Guerrero, both "live"  and in the studio in the 60s.  In 1963, the first year of the Escorts, then a three piece group comprised of Robert Warren and me on guitars and Ernie Hernandez on drums (no bass), performed at my dad’s night club called “Lalo’s” on Brooklyn Avenue in East Los Angeles.  We were set up on the dance floor in front of the bandstand, which was filled to capacity with my dad’s orchestra’s equipment and music stands.  It was a late afternoon show, a tardeada, which he did every Sunday.  We played “Wipe Out” and other surf instrumentals in front of the adult Latino crowd, who gave us a warm response probably mostly because we were so young (13 and 14 years old).  The same year, he took us to a recording studio for the first time to do a recording of our own.  The studio was called Jimmy Jones Studio in Pasadena, where he recorded almost all of his records from the late 50s through the early 70s.  At the time, they only had a two-track machine.  I don’t think 4-tracks had come out yet.  We recorded two instrumentals, “Windy and Warm,” which we learned from an album by The Ventures, and a blues we cleverly titled “The Blues.”  I played lead guitar on the first track and Robert soloed on the latter.  It was our first time in a recording studio.  In early 1964, after the addition of Richard Rosas on bass, we went back and did two more instrumentals, “San Ho-Zay” by Freddy King, with me on lead guitar and another updated blues with Robert on lead.  We came out of both sessions with a 45 rpm acetate, which was very exciting for kids in their early teens.  Also in 1964, he took us on a California tour with his band, which included gigs in Bakersfield, Stockton, and San Jose.  It was quite an experience for us to travel by car, stay in motels, and eat in various coffee shops with a bunch of veteran musicians.  My strongest memory is of the Bakersfield gig, which was in a huge building at a fairgrounds in the afternoon.  There must have been a thousand people in attendance.  We got a great response, especially from some screaming pre-teenage girls.  This was at the height of Beatlemania and as a gimmick we wore Beatle wigs for a couple of songs.  The same year, we recorded a real record backing up my dad.  It was called “El Rock de Las Ardillitas,” which included parts of “Twist and Shout” and “Roll Over Beethoven.”  By this time we were known as Mark & the Escorts and it was the first time we played on a recording that was released.  After adding a sax player and lead singer to our lineup, Trini Basulto and Ricky Almaraz, we embarked on a small tour of Arizona.  We played in Yuma on the bill with my dad’s orchestra, then went on to Chandler, where we played a teenage dance by ourselves.  We then headed for my dad’s hometown of Tucson, where we played at an uncle’s house party.

     In 1965, Mark & the Escorts backed my dad on a huge hit record called “La Minifalda de Reynalda.”  We played the rock choruses of the song, while El Conjunto de los Hermanos Arellano played the norteño verses.  I played lead guitar on a 12-string Rickenbacker solid body guitar.  We followed that success with "Felipe El Hippie," which again featured Mark & the Escorts, with me on lead guitar, doing the rock choruses and El Conjunto de los Hermanos Arellano playing the norteño verses behind my dad's vocal.  These sessions were fun because the two bands were set up facing each other and taking turns playing sections of the song.  It was like dueling bands and there were no overdubs.  We were playing "live" in the studio with my dad doing the vocal at the same time.  The same year, after adding Joe Cabral on Farfisa organ to the band, we backed my dad on another record called “Los Greñudos.”  It’s a rock & roll song with our band sounding like Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs and my dad growling with his best rock & roll voice.  I’ve heard it recently and it still sounds good.  As Mark & the Escorts evolved into the Men from S.O.U.N.D. and then Nineteen Eighty-Four, we continued to occasionally record with my dad.  In 1969, Nineteen Eighty-Four, comprised of me on guitar, Ernie Hernandez on drums, Richard Rosas on bass, and Tony Rodas on Farfisa organ, backed my dad on his Spanish language version of the Ray Stevens novelty hit, “Guitarzan.”  Later that same year, we backed my dad on a new version of his classic Christmas song “Pancho Claus,” which included a section with us as the Beatles doing “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  (My dad's original 1950s version referred to Elvis, which illustrates his ability to stay with the times.)  After Tony Rodas left the band to go away to college, Ernie, Richard, and I backed my dad on “El Tex Mex,” which featured our band doing the country rock choruses with El Conjunto de Los Hermanos Arellano once again playing the norteño verses like on “La Minifalda de Reynalda,” and "Felipe El Hippie."  We also recorded a comic rock song my dad wrote entitled “El Burrito,” which is about a guy eating a burrito with a girlfriend.  The chorus says:  “I’ll bite on one end, you’ll bite on the other, we’ll meet in the middle and then oh brother, we’ll kiss and kiss until we smother, and when it’s gone, we’ll order another.”  All this recording experience with my dad, along with the sessions for Crescendo Records with Billy Cardenas in ‘65 and Kapp Records with Tommy Coe in ‘69, was quite a lot for a teenager and provided great training for me and my bandmates' recordings in the 70s and beyond.

The Escorts- Lalo's Night Club 1963

(Robert Warren, Ernie Hernandez, and Mark Guerrero) 

The Escorts- Bakersfield, California- May 1964

(Mark Guerrero, Robert Warren, Ernie Hernandez, and Richard Rosas)

(The Escorts became Mark & the Escorts in 1965)

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Mark Guerrero
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Cathedral City, CA 92235

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