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Guide to the Lalo Guerrero Collection CEMA 24
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Collection Details
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  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Scope and Contents note
  • Related Archival Materials note

  • Title: Lalo Guerrero Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 24
    Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara, Davidson Library, Department of Special Collections, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 7.0 linear feet 17 boxes: 7 document boxes, 5 binder boxes, 4 oversized boxes and one CD box
    Date (inclusive): 1939-2005
    Location note: Del Norte

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    Donated by Lalo Guerrero, December 4, 2000

    Conditions Governing Access note


    Conditions Governing Use note

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Biographical/Historical note

    Eduardo “Lalo” Guerrero (December 24, 1916 – March 17, 2005), known as the “Father of Chicano Music,” entertained lovers of Chicano music for six decades. Composer, musician, singer and recipient of many awards, including the prestigious “National Medal of the Arts” awarded to him at a White House ceremony in 1996. Guerrero played guitar and sang in films alongside Jane Russell, Robert Mitchum, George Raft and Gilbert Roland. He serenaded the public alongside Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Red Skelton, Milton Berle and Hoagy Carmichael. He also co-hosted the Paul Rodríguez Show on Spanish-language television.
    Guerrero claims many accolades; amongst the most prominent are those from Nosotros, the Mexican Cultural Institute, El Teatro Campesino and the United Farm Workers. In December 1996 he was awarded the “National Medal of the Arts” from President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary at a White House ceremony with other honorees such as jazz great Lionel Hampton and opera star Luciano Pavarotti. Guerrero has received a Golden Eagle Award from Nosotros, for lifetime achievement, and Caminos magazine’s “Hispanic of the Year” award, as well as having his name immortalized in the Tejano Hall of Fame. His name adorns streets and schools – Avenida Lalo Guerrero is found in California’s Cathedral City and his former school in Tucson has been be named after him. The Lalo Guerrero School of Music in Los Angeles, part of the “Art in the Park” non- profit organization, was founded in 1999. In 2006 the Documentary Film, Lalo Guerrero: The Original Chicano was nominated for the best documentary with the Alma Awards.
    Guerrero was born in Tucson on Christmas Eve, 1916, after his parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 1912. Lalo gives all credit to his late mother for his musical ability, for it was from her that he learned to “embrace the spirit of being Chicano.” At 17 he wrote and performed the classic Canción Mexicana, a song that was endorsed by the Mexican people and became the unofficial Mexican National Anthem. He began entertaining in bars then at military camps and hospitals during WW II. By 1946 he was playing in a nightclub in LA called “La Bamba,” where Hollywood stars frequented. In the 50’s and 60’s Lalo had five songs riding the top 10 on the Latin and American music charts in the U.S. His love and concern for his Chicano people soon had him traveling to farming areas where he championed farm workers’ causes, writing songs about Cesar Chavez and calling for the decent treatment of agricultural laborers. In the 1950’s Guerrero made America laugh with satires such as “Pancho Lopez” and “Elvis Perez,” while in the 1960’s the children of America were entertained with Guerrero’s music aided by three chipmunk-type characters, “Las Ardillitas.” In 1978, four of Guerrero’s songs were featured in Luis Valdez’ hit film and musical “Zoot Suit.” Luis Valdez’ papers and the archives of his Teatro Campesino are also housed in CEMA.
    In 1998, at 81 years of age, Lalo Guerrero visited Paris along with his two sons, Dan and Mark. He played his beloved songs about his Chicano culture at La Cite de la Musique, a government-funded arts complex, at a three-day American music festival. Lalo’s signature, “Barrio Viejo,” had a standing ovation. This song above all has meant more to him than anything he has ever written, for it embodies what his mother called “Puro Chicano.”

    Scope and Contents note

    The Guerrero Collection is rich in photographs, videos, interviews, correspondence, phonograph records, audiocassettes, scrapbooks, and ephemera, and ranges from photographs autographed by the President and Hillary Clinton to music and lyrics sheets for his comedic “Elvis Perez” and his “El Hustle de las Ardillitas” (the “Chipmunks’ Hustle”). It also includes recordings of his popular boleros, parodies such as “I Left my Car in San Francisco,” as well as “La Canción Mexicana” (unofficial Mexican national anthem), in addition to taped interviews and performances on the Univisión television show “Cristina”. Material about the Lalo & Amigos Tribute Concert (1992 and 1994) can be found in Series III Press and Publicity as well as in Series V Photographs. Interviews, transcripts and clips used to make the documentary, Lalo Guerrero: The Original Chicano are included in this collection.
    Series I Personal/Biographical spans one box and contains three handmade scrap books arranged chronologically from the 1930s to 2008, correspondence, fan mail, biographical information and oral interviews.
    Series II Programs and Invitations spans two boxes. Arranged chronologically with undated material placed at the end. The series is made up of invitations, correspondence and performance programs and includes some newspaper articles relevant to those performances.
    Series III Press and Publicity spans the last half of box three and is continued in the oversize series at the end of the guide. Original articles about Lalo Guerrero have been preserved, along with their accompanying copies. The series has been divided into six subseries entitled Lalo and Amigos, Papas Dream, Paris Press, Tucson Press and Miscellaneous press each arranged chronologically.
    Series IV Commendations and Awards spans half of one box and contains correspondence, photos, and awards garnered by Guerrero over his long and illustrious career. The series is continued in the oversize section and is arranged chronologically.
    Series V Photographs spans 6 boxes including one CD box that are arranged according to their subject matter arranged chronologically from early childhood to the present with the internal order of each section pre-determined by the order in which they were donated. Some of the photographs are numbered with information written upon the photos included on the guide keyed to those identification numbers. Each section is separated from the next with labeled acid free sheets. Digital images on the CD are also on the Special Collections server.
    Series VI Oversize spans four boxes and contains items from other series that could not be stored with the bulk of their series due to size. The items are arranged by subject and then chronologically within each section.
    Series VII Audio and Video lists the many videos, tapes and LPs that are included in the collection. Many of these items are preserved digitally by the UCSB Special Collections Performing Arts Collections and are available for listening on request. Some items may require advanced notice as originals are stored off site and reformatting a listener/viewer copy may be necessary.

    Related Archival Materials note

    Dan Guerrero Papers, CEMA 078 Don Tosti Papers, CEMA 88 Lalo Guerrero: The Original Chicano [DVD] / a presentation of Original Chicano Productions; produced by Dan Guerrero, Nancy de Los Santos; written by Nancy de Los Santos, Dan Guerrero. Los Angeles, CA: Original Chicano Productions, c2006