Mexican-American Rock: Land of a Thousand Dances

By the mid-1960s, East L.A.’s “Eastside sound” captured the attention of the nation, including fans overseas like The Beatles. While Ritchie Valens’ success opened the door for other hits by Mexican Americans, including Chan Romero’s Hippy Hippy Shake and Rosie and the Originals’ Angel Baby, scores of teenage dance bands forged the unique Eastside sound. The Premiers, The Blendells, Cannibal and the Headhunters (who opened for The Beatles’ 1965 U.S. tour), and Thee Midniters popularized “brown-eyed soul.” The hits from these groups, including Farmer John, Land of a Thousand Dances and Whittier Boulevard influenced garage bands around the country. Eastside bands also popularized the use of the inexpensive Farfisa organ, used by other Mexican-American-led bands like Michigan-based ? and the Mysterians. In the 1970s El Chicano made more explicit statements of Mexican American political consciousness and pride through songs like Viva Tirado.