On Tuesday night, August 17, 2004 an event was held to honor
Don Tosti and to announce the donation of Mr. Tosti's collection,
which includes items such as photos, music, papers, and recordings,
to the University of California at Santa Barbara. The
event was organized and sponsored by the university, whose
California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA) include
a Performing Arts Collection to document the legacy of historic
Mexican-American music in California. Also helping to
organize the event were musician Johnny Meza and his wife
singer/music agent, Lola Rossi. Several years ago, my
family donated my dad's (Lalo Guerrero) collection to their
archives. When the director of CEMA, Salvador Guereña,
was at my house collecting my dad's music on cds earlier in
the year, I suggested he speak with Don Tosti about his collection.
I spoke to Don about it and hooked them up. Shortly
after their meeting and agreement for the Don Tosti collection
to be donated to the university, Don was diagnosed with terminal
prostate cancer. Mr. Tosti's health was deteriorating
when the Tribute to Don Tosti was being organized, but it
was hoped Don would be able to attend. Unfortunately,
he passed away on August 2nd, two weeks before the tribute.
Since it was a private event, with seating for around fifty
guests, invitations were limited to close friends, family,
and officials from CEMA. I was asked by Sal Guereña
to say a few words about Don Tosti's life and career at the
The Tribute was held at Las Casuelas Terraza Restaurant in
Palm Springs, CA, which happens to be where my home gig is
located. I perform regularly year-round with my cover
band, Hot Rox, when I'm not doing out of town concerts with
my other band, Mark Guerrero & Radio Aztlán. Some
of the special guests at the Don Tosti Tribute were Chicano
music legends Lalo Guerrero, Trini Lopez, and Manny Lopez,
as well as Don's sister Marilyn Martinez-Wood and his nephew
Steve Lewis. The event was covered by the local newspaper,
The Desert Sun, and the local CBS affiliate. Sarah M.
Pritchard, University Librarian, welcomed the guests and spoke
briefly about the evening's program. Sal Guereña addressed
the audience next with information on the CEMA program and
how the Don Tosti donation came about. Mr. Guereña also
announced Don Tosti's generous endowment to the university
for the preservation of Mexican-American musical heritage.
Don's nephew, Steve Lewis, spoke next about his uncle and
thanked everyone involved with organizing the event.
I followed with a presentation that included sound bytes from
a 1998 interview I conducted with Don Tosti and from some
of his recordings. I spoke about Don's life and musical
career with relevant comments in Don's own voice from the
'98 interview followed by examples of his best music.
My presentation went extremely well and was very well received.
Don's sister Marilyn Martinez-Wood then briefly spoke about
her brother as a gesture of family remembrance. It was
a warm and emotional gathering that celebrated his life, while
mourning his passing.