Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the Don Tosti Papers CEMA 88
CEMA 88  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (143.29 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Custodial History note
  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Copyright note
  • Scope Note
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Preferred Citation note

  • Title: Don Tosti Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 88
    Contributing Institution: UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 11.0 linear feet
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1940-2004
    Date (inclusive): 1900-2004
    General Physical Description note: 13 document boxes, 11 photo binder boxes, 1 oversized box, 57 reels, 9 records, 6 cassettes, multiple CD's, and 2 VHS.
    Abstract Note: Don Tosti [1923-2004] is known as the "Father of Pachuco Boogie." Born in 1923, he was considered a child prodigy and grew up to become a musical success. He bequeathed to the Regents of UC the rights to his collection in an effort to expand the knowledge of Mexican American music. The archived handwritten orchestral scores and music sheets along with the successful adoption of his music by many musicians attest to his extraordinary musicianship. Biographical material, correspondence, teaching materials, event and promotional materials, sheet music, music books, photos, and audio and video files that include his music chronicle Tosti's life as a Mexican American musician.
    Location note: Del Norte

    Custodial History note

    These papers were donated by Don Tosti in late 2003 and 2004 with some additional material donated by Marily Wood in 2004. Materials on site at the home of the late Don Tosti, that were left behind, include hundreds of commercial song books and commercially available sheet music folios representing many different music genres and eras, hundreds of demonstration audio-cassettes and videos submitted by musicians and singers to the Music by Tosti agency. Also left behind were most of Tosti’s music “play” books containing commercial sheet music in three-ring binders that Tosti had assembled and used for his engagements at various entertainment venues. These play books encompass a wide range of genres of popular music similar to those used by other commercial musicians. Also removed from the archive were music industry manuals, music equipment manuals, pop psychology books, music industry periodicals. Left behind were financial files such as bank statements, cancelled checks and tax returns. Several hundred LP’s of popular music were not archived, nor a large assortment of color photographs of entertainers who were clients of the Music by Tosti agency. There were some samples archived of the latter.

    Biographical/Historical note

    Don Tosti was a musician, composer, band and orchestra leader whose illustrious career spanned more than seven decades. He was born on the March 27, 1923 in El Paso, Texas. Don Tosti rose above his humble origins in El Paso's hardscrabble Segundo barrio, becoming a child prodigy at nine years of age and playing second violin with the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Following a move to East Los Angeles at the age of fifteen, he began playing saxophone first, then the bass, and formed his own swing band. He attended Roosevelt High School, becoming concertmaster for the All-City high school orchestra. His growing prowess on the string bass took him through a star-studded musical career as a jazz player with legends such as Jack Teagarden, Jimmy Dorsey, Bobby Sherwood, Les Brown and Charlie Barnett.
    As a band and orchesta leader during the 1950's Don Tosti made many recordings and had his own television show "Momentos Alegres" ("Happy Moments") on KHJ-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles. Don Tosti encouraged and influenced other musicians, including Eddie Cano and Manny Lopez. In 1963, he married starlet and model Ruthe Lyla Margulies. Together they made a life in Palm Springs where he continued writing music, entertaining at clubs, and operating his own music agency. In 1999, the City of Palm Springs honored him with his own star on the "Palm Springs Walk of the Stars."
    Don Tosti's musical genius can be appreciated as much through his bold and innovative compositions as with his stylish close-harmony ballads of more traditional forms. Don Tosti is a progenitor of modern Chicano music. In 1948, Tosti's energetic "Pachuco Boogie" opened a new chapter in American music. He, along with Lalo Guerrero, pioneered in creating the sub genre of post-war Mexican American jump blues and made history by inaugurating a new era in Mexican American music. Tosti and Guerrero thus laid the foundation for the evolution of Chicano rock music. Don Tosti's "Pachuco Boogie" and his experimentations with "Chicano Boogie" and other jump tunes infused boogie-woogie with a distinct Mexican style and Pachuco vernacular.
    Don Tosti's reputation as a master of music can be seen also through his compositions and arrangements for luminaries in the entertainment field. This included writing music for Hoagy Carmichael and Henry Mancini during the last thirteen years of his life. He also wrote music and arrangements for Lalo Guerrero, known as the "Father of Chicano music." Don Tosti passed away on August 4, 2004 in the City of Palm Springs in California at the age of 81.

    Conditions Governing Access note


    Copyright note

    Copyright for all of Don Tosti's creative materials has 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.

    Scope Note

    Tosti's papers contain 13 document boxes, 11 photo albums in binder boxes, and one oversize box, for a total of 11 linear feet. The papers also includes various CD's with his original songs that have been digitized, 57 reels, six cassettes, nine records with Don Tosti songs, and two VHS videos. This collection consists of biographical information, correspondence, teaching materials, events, sheet music, music books, photographs, audio and video.
    In Series III: Teaching Materials there are music sheets used to practice music, instrument exercises, memorization sheets, and exercise sheets.
    Series IV Events and Promotional Material is from 1942 to 2008 and consists of publicity and promotional material, gig sheets and ceremonies like the Annual Chicano Music Award Ceremony.
    Series V: Sheet Music houses six different boxes which are put in order alphabetically by song title within each subseries. There are five different subseries: "Don Tosti songs and General Music Sheets","Tosti Playbooks and Set Lists with Lead Sheets," "Orchestration Hand Written Music Sheets", "Don Tosti Music Notebooks," and "Misc. Music Sheets." "Hand Written Music Sheets" is organized by instrument. This includes 11 handwritten songs composed by Don Tosti like "Envidiosa" and "Burlate."
    Series VI: Music Books from 1903 to 1985 is organized alphabetically by book title. These are a sample of his music books and reflect his taste in music.
    Series VII: Photographs includes pictures of Don Tosti from the 1920s to the 2000s. There are some early turn of the century family photos. His personal life and professional life is depicted in these photographs.
    Series VIII: Audio and Video contains five different subseries which are composed of MP3s, six cassettes, two VHS videos, nine records, and 57 reels. These video and audio items contain recordings of the songs "I wrote a song for you," "Nostalgia," and "Negro Corazon" and footage of "History de Mexico" and "Quintero Organ."

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    Donated by Don Tosti on June 26, 2004.

    Preferred Citation note

    Don Tosti Papers, CEMA 88, Department of Special Collections, University Libraries, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Latin Jazz
    Mexican American Composer
    Mexican American musicians