"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

El Paso was a metal town

Growing up Chicano in El Paso deposits you in a variety of music on the border. Living here has exposed me to so much music that when I leave, I marvel how much more cultured El Paso is than other cities.

When I was young, I would hear the ump pas of banda long before it was popular. I hear it and say "turn that off." Same when for norteno and ranchera music. It just did not have a place in my Chicano world. To some, presently, I'm a sort of Mexican music export now. How ironic.

But when I was young, El Paso was a metal town. See when I first started gaining conciousness and memory as a young boy, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal had just begun. But being a Baptist for sevaral generations, this was Satans music, though long after, I'd find out how far removed from Satan it was.

For those of you who don't know metal, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal included Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Def Leopard, and many more. Some say it was a reaction to the decline of metal bands like Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath. Others say it was a reaction against punk and disco. Another is that with its British origin and its idealizing of the working class, it was a protest against Margarat Thachter's regime.

I'm sure you're asking what does this have to do with El Paso. Well, when I was growing up, when you though metal, you though Ysleta High School. The Indians were just known for these metal youth bands. Even into the late 1980s as metal was declining and rap was on the advent, Ysleta still seemed to produce these rockers.

In my sisters time, the rockers were very big. It's hard to describes them now, but they were all denim and metal t-shirts. One guys I met in the late 1980s was a young Jewish guy who played the guitar. I remember him playing the licks to "Sweet Child O mine."

There was one place near Yarbrough and Alameda called the Texas Stakeout. I must have been underage when I got in. The band played covers and all nights some guys kept yelling out, "Billy Squire! Billy Squire" hoping they would cover him. So in the mix of cumbia clubs and lesbian dance clubs down Alameda, you found metal hangouts.

For some reason by the late 1980s, I got really into Oldies. Back then, Oldies meant 50s, 60s. I learned how the growing gang underworld liked this music. Back then KROD was an oldies station and often late evening you hear dedications from Happy to Sleepy. Oldies weren't popular with anyone, but I was looking for music to bring me closer to my dad. My dad was a child of the 50s and Fat Domino, Eddie Valens, and the Big Bopper are to this day still our united favorites. By far, my song was "Rip it up" by Little Richard. I had fallen in love with the Oldmobile 88, the old ones, so this song brought all that back.

Being love with music made me ignore what was going on. Though a delved in the growing gangster rap, especially at the turn of the decade and the growth of gang activity, I missed the New Wave and the coming Alternative Movement.

So, more later....

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