Raoul Joseph Díaz was born on March 10, 1925 in Boyle Heights, California. He attended Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles in the early 1940s, where he met Don Tosti. Raúl studied music and participated in track sports. When World War II broke out, Raúl became a member of the United States Marine Corps Band and also served on the front in Iwo Jima and other battles in the South Pacific.
After the war, Raúl mainly played as a jazz musician in gigs all over the Los Angeles area. He married Margaret Díaz and had one daughter. On January 28, 1948, Raúl Díaz, along with Don Tosti, Eddie Cano, and Bob Hernández, recorded “Pachuco Boogie” for the Independent Discos Taxco Recording Company. They were the Pachuco Boogie Boys. This recording was a big hit and sold over one million records throughout the Western United States. Raúl was the drummer and did the jazz scat in Tosti’s Pachuco-themed recordings, with the exception of “El Tírili.”
On December 4, 1950, the Hollywood Palladium featured Raúl Díaz and Don Tosti. This was the first time a Chicano band was billed as the main show and the marquee spelled out their name. After the Pachuco craze, Raúl stayed as the vocalist for Tosti, singing his compositions in the Philmos, Víctor, and Combo record labels throughout the 1950s. In 1954, Channel 9 featured the Pachuco Boogie Band on a weekly basis for a whole year. The show was called “Momentos Alegres” and was produced by two brothers, Pete and Eddie Rodríguez. This was the first time a television program with entirely Chicano entertainment was aired.
After Channel 9, CBS offered another year-long contract. After the 1950s, Raúl started a separate trio, and during the 1960s and early 1970s, he played in various clubs throughout the Los Angeles area. In the mid-1970s, Raúl went into semi-retirement until the success of “Zoot Suit” rekindled the dream that he and Tosti had, to get together and cut an updated version of “Pachuco Boogie.”
Raúl would talk about the clubs he played in when driving by them but kept his music life separate from his home life. On May 18, 1990, Raúl, alongside Tosti, accepted an award on behalf of the music of the Pachuco Boogie Boys at the Second Annual Chicano Music Awards. Raúl passed away in 1997.
Biography provided by: Guadalupe Nieto