Music Legend Isidro Lopez

A legacy and music for today's generations to learn from

By Tony - Ham - Guerrero
Published on LatinoLA: October 27, 2004

Music Legend Isidro Lopez

It was 1958 when I first had an oppurtunity to see Isidro's big band. By this age 14 years old, I had already spent a few thousand hours practicing on my trumpet and I already knew I wanted to be a musician the rest of my life.

It was a very big baile and it was held at the Cotillion Ballroom at the Townhouse hotel in San Angelo Texas. Our local promotor Mr. Maximo Guerrero had been announcing about Isidro's dance for two weeks and everybody would be there.

I had a cousin and a good friend Larry Martinez and Luis Gasca both from Houston Texas that had been playing on and off with Isidro's band and they had told him how dedicated a musician I was and that he should call me when he needed a trumpet player. When I got to the dance I could hear the musicians warming up and I was really excited, I couldn't wait to hear the band.

They kicked off and I was so impressed with the sound of the band that I remained there in front of the bandstand the rest of the night. The Ballroom was filled to capacity and I just couldn't believe how big a star Isidro was.That's the first time I had ever seen women throwing and giving undies and phone numbers to a singer.

That's probably because none of the local musicians were big recording stars.

Isidro's band was magnificent, they played Boleros, danzones, rock n' roll, big band swing, rancheras, polkas,..........they were extremely versatile and great musicianship was very evident in that band.

Mr. Pepe Compean was the lead trumpet player and musical director for Isidro as well as having arranged many of Isidro's biggest hits. A lot of Texas' heavyweight musicians played with Isidro at one time or another people like Joe Gallardo trombone/piano-player/arranger who has also played with Mongo Santamaria, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Luis Gasca, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, , Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana etc.etc.

I could mention many of the great players that played with Isidro but suffice it to say that when you played with Isidro it was like going to school because there were so many great players you could learn from. That night I met Mr. Compean as well as the brothers Tony and Danny Falcon, both trumpet players. I also met a young saxophone player from Austin named Roy Montelongo who would become a big star in Texas music a few years later.

After the dance I finally met Isidro and we exchanged phone numbers. He already knew who I was as Luis Gasca had told him about me coming to see and meet him. When I gave him my phone number he looked at it and grinning from ear to ear. He tole me, "I'm glad you gave me your phone number. Next time I come to West Texas I'll call you so you can find me a good trumpet player."

I went on to play with Isidro a few months later and we became friends for life. Isidro was the equivalent of an Elvis or Frank Sinatra to his fans, but he was so humble and a good person that he was always just one of the guys in the band. I was right there when he was the King and I saw the impact he had on the Texas music industry at that time. He has left a legacy and his music for today's generations to learn from and to appreciate a wealth of schooling and information his music left for all of us.

Rest in Peace, my good friend.

About Tony - Ham - Guerrero:
I am Tony "Ham" Guerrero originally from San Angelo now living in Austin, Texas. I have been a musician all my life .....trumpet player/bandleader/producer/arranger/and singer. I will send my URL

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