is a Chicano band from East L.A. At their commercial
peak they had a hit song, "Together," which reached
number 18 on the national charts in December of 1980.
On the wings of their hit record, they appeared on numerous
national television programs including "American Bandstand,"
"Soul Train," "Solid Gold," and the "American
Music Awards." Tierra also toured the U.S. extensively,
including concerts at the Houston Astrodome and legendary
was formed in 1972 by Rudy and Steve Salas, brothers who had
been singing together professionally since the early 60's
when they were pre-teens. I saw them perform for the
first time at St. Alphonsus Auditorium when I was still in
junior high. I would guess Steve was about 12 and Rudy
14. I remember being impressed with their voices and
tight harmonies. They were wearing suits and ties and
were fronting a band called the Jaguars, who were very musically
polished and probably in their mid to late teens. I
had already formed my first band, "Mark & the Escorts"
and had been playing around East L.A. My band and The
Jaguars with the Salas Brothers eventually played the same
venues, such as, the Big Union and Little Union Halls, Rainbow
Gardens in Pomona, the Alexandria Hotel in downtown L.A.,
and the aforementioned St. Alphonsus Auditorium. We
eventually had the same manager, Billy Cardenas, and recorded
for producer Eddie Davis, who released many records by Eastside
groups at the time. In 1966, Eddie put out a compilation
album entitled, "West Coast Eastside Revue," which
had cuts by the Salas Brothers, Mark & the Escorts, The
Blendells, The Premiers, and Cannibal & the Headhunters,
early 70's, our paths crossed again as we once again shared
the same manager, Art Brambila, who happened to be their uncle.
Steve and Rudy Salas had formed Tierra and I was a solo artist
at the time, backed by a band that would later become my group,
Tango. Art helped me secure a record deal with Capitol
Records, while Tierra signed with 20th Century Records.
Brambila had a third group, Yaqui, who recorded for Playboy
Records. Tierra's first album, "Tierra," was
very inspired and energetic. It may not have been as
polished as later efforts, but I think it's their best.
The album had a lot of good songs, the best being "Barrio
Suite," an all-time classic Chicano anthem. The
original Tierra had many talented musicians. Their keyboard
player, David Torres, is presently musical director of Poncho
Sanchez' great salsa band. Conrad Lozano, who played
bass on some cuts, shortly thereafter joined Los Lobos, with
whom he still plays.
word "Tierra" means earth, land, soil, in Spanish.
It was chosen for its rootsy back to basics connotation and
it fits. Tierra's style has always had many different
musical elements, including, r&b, doo wop, Latin and rock.
They've managed to survive as a group for over 30 years, although
Steve Salas has been in and out of the group in the last 10
years. For a while Steve had a group called Los Rebels,
and sang rock in Spanish, and later formed another band called
Steve Salas and the Original Members of Tierra. Steve
Salas has one of the best and most recognizable voices to
come out of the Chicano rock scene. Aside from his own
hit with Tierra, he sang the lead vocal on El Chicanos' 1972
hit, "Brown-Eyed Girl," a cover of Van Morrison's
1967 classic song. (The lead vocal was shared with El
Chicano's bassist, Fred Sanchez.) On the other hand,
Rudy Salas is an excellent lead guitarist and producer/arranger.
Steve and Rudy have also written some good songs, together
and separately. Personally, I would like to see them
together in Tierra, but they're both valid musical artists
together or apart.
has recorded for many record labels, including the aforementioned
20th Century, Salsol, Boardwalk, Satellite, Fiesta and currently,
Thump Records. They have performed on the same bill
with Ruben Blades, Tito Puente, The Miami Sound Machine, Jackson
Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Bob Dylan and Chuck Berry. In
1995, they did an album of doo wop-style music, mostly cover
tunes, called "Street Corner Gold," and recorded
a live album with El Chicano and Malo entitled, "Latin
Legends Live," both released by Thump Records.
The three groups toured jointly in support of the latter album.
In 2001, Tierra released "Dos Mundos-Two Worlds,"
its first totally bilingual album. It features a song
written by and featuring Little Joe, and the first single
off the album is called "Lady In the Moonlight."
This album and a "Tierra- Greatest Hits" collection
are also available on the Thump label. In 2005, Tierra
released a new studio album called "Welcome To Cafe East
L.A." It's mostly a return to their r&b and
doo-wop roots. The exceptions are the title track, which
is a Pachuco swing song, and "God Save Us From Ourselves,"
which is a funky gospel track written and sung by Rudy Salas.
The latter track happens to be my favorite. The CD also
has a few excellent Latin-style tracks. Steve Salas
has continued his career on his own and in 2004 released a
solo album entitled "Directions." Steve also
performs in concert with his own band. All in all, I
think the Salas Brothers have done quite well for themselves
for a couple of kids from East L.A.
20th and September 22nd of 2002, my band, Mark Guerrero &
Radio Aztlán, performed on the bill with Tierra, and Malo,
at The Galaxy Theater in Santa Ana, CA and The Hop in Puente
Hills, California. On November 1, 2003, we played with
Tierra, El Chicano, Thee Midniters with Special Guest Little
Willie G., The Premiers, and others at the Latin Oldies Festival
2003 in San Bernardino, California. In 2005, Rudy Salas
participated on Ry Cooder's great album "Chavez Ravine."
I also worked it assisting my dad, Lalo Guerrero, who sang
three of his songs on the project. Rudy sang with Little
Willie G. on the track "Three Cool Cats."
In April of 2005, I performed with Steve Salas as a duo in
El Paso, Texas. In late 2005, Rudy and Steve Salas reunited
and are once again performing together in Tierra and have
plans to record a Salas Brothers album.
of 2006, I interviewed Rudy Salas for my internet radio show,
"Chicano Music Chronicles." I played thirteen
of my favorite Tierra tracks and we talked about them.
The interview gives insight into Tierra's music and career.
It aired multiple times in the month of May 2006 on crnlive.com.
The show is now archived on my website on my "Chicano
Music Chronicles" page. A high speed internet connection
is recommended. Click here
for a shortcut to the page. In the summer of 2006, I
interviewed Rudy Salas again for my show. This time
it was for an edition of "Chicano Music Chronicles"
about the golden age of the the Eastside Sound. Rudy
and I talked about his first record "Darling (Please
Bring Your Love)" by the Salas Brothers.
2007, I interviewed Rudy and Steve Salas for an exhibit called
"American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music,"
which opened in October of 2007 at the Experience Music Project
museum in Seattle, Washington. The interviews will also
find a permanent home in the museum's oral history archives.
On October 14, 2007, I performed with El Chicano on the bill
with Tierra at a benefit for my alma mater, Garfield High
School. Also on the bill for the event that raised funds
for the rebuilding of the school's auditorium which was burned
down by an arsonist, were Los Lobos, Little Joe y La Familia,
War, Little Willie G., and Upground.
9, 2008, I performed on the bill with Rudy and Steve Salas
at the premiere of the documentary "Chicano Rock: The
Sounds of East Los Angeles," which took place at the
historic Million Dollar Theater in Los Angeles. On November
11, 2008, I performed on the bill with Tierra, El Chicano,
Little Willie G. & Thee Midniters, the Greg Rolie Band,
and Trini Lopez at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
It was the taping for a PBS television special called "Trini
Lopez Presents Latin Music Legends," which aired in
March of 2009. On that program Tierra backed me on
"Los Chucos Suaves" in tribute to my late father, "The
Father of Chicano Music," Lalo Guerrero. On September 18, 2010, I was on the
bill with Tierra at Palm Springs Fiesta Days, a two day
Chicano rock festival which took place at the O'Donnell Golf
Course in Palm Springs, California. Tierra's
percussionist Dale Villavicencio and saxophonist Victor
Cisneros sat in with my band. Others on the bill
included El Chicano, Malo, Los Fabulocos featuring Kid
Ramos, The Blazers, and others.