Lalo Guerrero Interviews

Lalo Guerrero was without a doubt the most prolific musician-composer that Mexican America has ever produced.  In his long and illustrious career, which spanned from the 1930s to the 2000s, Guerrero visited almost every musical genre circulating in the Hispanic Southwest.  Given his prolific career, it is not surprising that Guerrero rubbed elbows with musicians that ranged from grassroots folk artists like Luis and Carmen Moreno to international Mexican stars like El Trío Los Panchos and American celebrities like Ry Cooder.

A Tucsonian born in 1916, Don Lalo’s first excursion into the major currents of commercial music occurred in 1939, when a Mexican-styled trio he played in, Los Carlistas, recorded several 78 rpm records for the Vocalion label.  But this was only the beginning for the budding young singer-composer-guitarist. During his lengthy career in music he delved into many types of ensembles and composed in many different styles and genres.

Among the groups he performed with or fronted was the Mexican American-styled orquesta, Mexican-styled trios, and assorted ensembles such as that of Los Lobos, from Los Angeles.  Among the genres in which he composed and sang was a Spanish-language imitation of Alvin and the Chipmunks (“Las Ardillitas”), parodies of various American popular songs, corridos (Mexican ballads), Chicano protest songs, pachuco-styled boogies (e.g., “Marihuana Boogie”), and many other musical types. In summary, with the exception of Little Joe Hernández, no one matched Lalo Guerrero’s brilliant attempts at synthesizing the disparate musical elements that formed the raw material for his musical genius.

Guerrero received many awards and other forms of recognition during his lifetime, including a National Heritage Award.  He died on March 17, 2005.

– Introduction by Manuel Peña

  • Lalo Guerrero Interview 1989 pt 1 00:00
  • Lalo Guerrero Interview 1989 pt 2 00:00
Interviewee: Lalo Guerrero
Interviewer: Manuel Peña
Date: Sept 8, 1989
Language: Spanish and English
  • Lalo Guerrero Interview 1994 00:00
Interviewee: Lalo Guerrero
Interviewer: Manuel Peña
Date: May 27, 1994
Location: Fresno, CA
Language: Mostly English some Spanish

The interviews by Manuel Peña on this website were originally recorded for research purposes only, and are presented here in their raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. They were often recorded in conditions adverse to obtaining  good audio quality and often using very basic recording equipment. All rights to the interviews are reserved by Manuel Peña. Please do not use anything from this website without permission.

Rumbo a california

The Arhoolie Foundation is proud to present: Rumbo a California: Making Mexican Music in the Golden State, a bilingual digital exhibition that explores the history of Mexican music in California and the stories of the people, labels, and events that have shaped it.


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