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Pachuco Boogie Boys

The Originals-Rappers Chicano Style 1940's

 
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This article was originally
printed in Q-VO Magazine 1980

1979 L.A. Califas, Luis Valdez production of Zoot Suit

Ese Tosti, dode la Ilevas pues ese Na! Ese vato, ya voy a dar un vuelton. Me voy a ver a var si oyo la musica de los pachucos ese Unas songas muy locas y muy modernas, estilo zoot..ese vato

The above lyrics is from the original Pachuco Boogie Boys of the 40's and 50's,
the type of music that was an inspiration for the sounds and dances of the play Zoot Suit.

 By Max Nunez

DATELINE: January 28, 1948
PLACE: Recording Studios of Radio Recorders
PERSONS: Raul Diaz, Don Tosti, Eddie Cano, Bob Hernandez
SUBJECT: Pachuco Boogie

   

RESULT: Over One Million Records Sold throughout the Western United States
According to Raul, this date marks the beginning of the Pachuco Boogie Boy

In the personal diary of Raul Diaz, one of the Pachuco Boogie Boys, you will find this entry: overnight success story which continued until the late 50's, when the group disbanded. The story includes such Chicano firsts as: selling over a million records; being put on the marquee and featured at the Hollywood Palladium; and the first Chicano television program. After 20 years, Diaz and Tosti have gotten together and have cut an updated version of Pachuco Boogie and a lowrider oriented tune called Cruising Nights. More on these new releases later. But first, something from el pasado de estos vatos.

Raul Diaz and Don Tosti first met while both were attending Roosevelt High in East Los in the early 40's. During that time, Don Tosti (at age 17) had his own stage band while Raul was studying music and participating in track sports. World War II broke out and the two vatos were temporarily separated. Raul says, Everybody wanted to join the service. There was a lot of patriotism in those days. Raul became a member of the Marine Corps Band and also served on the front in Iwo Jima and other battles in the South Pacific. After the war. Don Tosti began to play as bass player with big name bands like Tommy Dorsey, Les Brown and Charlie Barnett. Meanwhile. Diaz and Eddie Cano

   

Were playing mainly as jazz musicians in gigs all over the L.A. area. One night the three were sitting around discussing the status of Chicano music. There was no Chicano music to speak of. Everybody was dancing the Rumba and Conga to Xavier Cougat and Desi Arnaz. It was bland, high society type of music, not like today's salsa. Raul continued, Sure there were norteños and other popular types of music. But, it was either made in Mexico or was made here by bands influenced by Mexico.

Don Tosti, being from El Paso, which is considered the center of pachucismo, suggested that  pachucismo was unique to the Chicanos, especially with Calo, the language of the Pacheco's. The three put their musical knowledge and talents together and during a jam session Pacheco Boogie was born. The years after the war were a time of conservatism and it was difficult for Chicano music to be recognized and to be played on the radio. Thanks to the courage of four Chicano disc jockeys, Lionel Sesma, Pete and Eddie Rodriguez, the Mexican Arthur Godfrey (disc jockeys of the very popular Good Morning Days Program), and Milton Nava, the radio audience heard the Pachuco Boogie sounds. Consequently, Pachuco Boogie and Guisa Gacha both sold over a million records and the two records that followed sold nearly a million. Everything we did turned into gold,? smiled Diaz. We were at the right place at the right time. That was what made Pachuco Boogie a success. Chicanos wanted something that was their own. Furthermore, Chicanos were subject to much prejudice and segregation. Chicanos were not allowed into certain night clubs and ballrooms. The conditions were just right for Pachuco Boogie. Shortly after the success of Pachuco Boogie, radio stations with mainly an Anglo audience were playing the Chicano sounds.

 
 
   

Beginning with Al Jarvis of KFWB on the very popular Make Believe Ballroom and including Art Laboe of KRLA. Radio stations all over the Southwest and in Northern Mexico carried the PB tunes. All this interest in Pachuco Boogie was not without controversy. Diaz recalls one Mexican female disc jockey as saying over the air, Yo no voy a tocar esa cochinada en mi programa (I'm not going to play that mess on my radio program). To some Chicanos, pachucismo represented a negative image of Chicanos. But to many more of La Raza, the word pachuco was like the word Chicano in the late 60's. The word Pachuco was a rallying symbol which represented a unique culture with distinct roots and an identity which deserved recognition and expression. When La Raza was given the means to express their uniqueness, they felt proud then as they do now. Chicanos sang and danced to Diaz, Tosti and Cano; Pachuco Boogie was La Raza. As to be expected, television and movies was the logical step after radio. It was 1954 when Channel 9 featured the Pachuco Boogie Band on a weekly basis for a whole year. The show was titled Momentos Alegres and was produced and directed by two brothers, Pete and Eddie Rodriguez. This was the first time a television program with entirely Chicano entertainment was aired. After Channel 9, came CBS (Channel 2) with another year-long contract. Prior to the Pachuco Boogie Band, all Latin bands at the Hollywood Palladium were used only during intermission of shows where big-name bands played. It popular types of music. But, it was either made in Mexico or was made here by bands influenced by  Mexico. Don Tosti, being from El Paso, which is considered the center of pachucismo, suggested that pachucismo was unique to the Chicanos, especially with Calo, the language of the Pacheco's. The three put their musical knowledge and talents together and during a jam session Pachuco Boogie was born. The years after the war were a time of conservatism and it was difficult for Chicano music to be recognized and to be played on the radio. Thanks to the courage of four Chicano disc jockeys, Lionel Sesma, Pete and Eddie Rodriguez, the Mexican Arthur Godfrey (disc jockeys of the very popular Good Morning Days Program), and Milton Nava, the radio audience heard the Pachuco Boogie sounds.


Consequently, Pachuco Boogie and Guisa Gacha both sold over a million records and the two records that followed sold nearly a million. Everything we did turned into gold, smiled Diaz. ?We were at the right place at the right time. That was what made Pachuco Boogie a success. Chicanos wanted something that was their own. Furthermore, Chicanos were subject to much prejudice and segregation. Chicanos were not allowed into certain night clubs and ballrooms. The conditions were just right for Pachuco Boogie. Shortly after the success of Pachuco Boogie, radio stations with mainly an Anglo audience were playing the Chicano sounds. Beginning with Al Jarvis of KFWB on the very popular Make Believe Ballroom and including Art Laboe of KRLA. Radio stations all over the Southwest and in Northern Mexico carried the PB tunes. All this interest in Pachuco Boogie was not without controversy. Diaz recalls one Mexican female disc jockey as saying over the air, Yo no voy a tocar esa cochinada en mi programa? (I'm not going to play that mess on my radio program). To some Chicanos, pachucismo represented a negative image of Chicanos. But to many more of La Raza, the word pachuco was like the word Chicano in the late 60's. The word Pachuco was a rallying symbol which represented a unique culture with distinct roots and an identity which deserved recognition and expression. When La Raza was given the means to express their uniqueness, they felt proud then as they do now. Chicanos sang and danced to Diaz, Tosti and Cano; Pachuco Boogie was La Raza. As to be expected, television and movies was the logical step after radio. It was 1954 when Channel 9 featured the Pachuco Boogie Band on a weekly basis for a whole year. The show was titled Momentos Alegres and was produced and directed by two brothers, Pete and Eddie Rodriguez. This was the first time a television program with entirely Chicano entertainment was aired. After Channel 9, came CBS (Channel 2) with another year-long contract. Prior to the Pachuco Boogie Band, all Latin bands at the Hollywood Palladium were used only during intermission of shows where big-name bands played. It was insulting to have to wear those tropical ruffles. I wanted to play Chicano music, not look like a clown. However on December 4, 1950, the Palladium featured Don Tosti and Raul ?Pachuco Boogie Diaz. This was the first time a Chicano band was billed as the main show and the marquee spelled out their name. The decade of the 50's ended and the Pachuco Boogie group was disbanded. Diaz started a separate trio and during the 60's and early 70's he played in various clubs throughout the L.A. area. Don Tosti moved to Palm Springs where he has a local following of admirers. In the mid 70's, Raul went into semi-retirement until the success of Zoot Suit rekindled that dream that he and Don Tosti have had for the last twenty years: to get together and cut an updated version of Pachuco Boogie. Movies may be in the future of Pachuco Boogie. A local independent Chicano producer is working with Raul Diaz and Don Tosti to do a Chicano combination of Saturday Night Fever, Summer of '42, and The Buddy Holly Story. Soon you may also be seeing The Pachuco Boogie Band and Miguel Delgado's Zoot Suit Dancers, some of which appeared in the play. (The dance group was featured in Q-VO Magazine in the May 79 issue).

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