Latin Legends Forever

Romeo Prado enjoyed his legacy until his final days. The rest of our Legends should too.

By Richard Duran,
Published on LatinoLA: March 27, 2006

Latin Legends Forever

QVo, mi gente

It is a sad day for our people. As those of you may know or not know, Romeo Prado from Thee Midniters passed away March 25th. His legacy will live on forever. Romeo left this world as a Midniter. That is nice; what a way to leave this world. He is the one and only Mr. Midniter.

How sad it is that there's other living legends today that do not get the recognition they deserve until they pass away. Since I've had "Thee Mr. Duran Show" for the last five and a half years, I have had the distinct honor to meet many of these legends who are not playing with the groups they recorded so many classics with. Instead, they are playing background music for bands they had nothing to do with in their heyday. Why?

We all have problems and we know that the mighty dollar can tear us apart. Because of these reasons, we are deprived of seeing these legends together. How sad that truly is. I was explaining to my son who these members are. There is one original member playing with his band, two originals playing in another, three in a different group, and other original members not performing at all. Yet and still, all of them are mentally and physically able to go out and perform. That's why I feel that Romeo Prado went out with dignity. He lived his life as an original Midniter and left as one.

Man, if I could have any kind of impact on this, how I wish that I could go to a big event and see these three or four groups, that had hit songs on the radio, with their original lineups from their heyday. I've always said in my messages, "Let's put bulls**t aside." Young people ask me when they hear the song "Suavecito" on the radio, if I know that singer. Wow! I say, "No, I don't." That question blows my mind. I've never seen him perform before, but I know he's alive.

I was a guest speaker at a high school reunion and someone pulled out an old War album with several African-Americans on the cover. The question was asked to me about when they saw War at the Quiet Cannon recently, why weren't the rest of those guys onstage and many of the members seemed too young to be from the original days of the band. I didn't know how to answer that question.

About three years ago, I had the honor of filming an El Chicano reunion with Bobby Espinosa, Mickey Lespron, Ersi Arvizu and Fred Sanchez. Those four haven't performed together since that night, and how sad that is. Such a legendary lineup, and their only appearance was at the tiny Montebello Inn.

Many of you may not know that Willie G. was also lead singer for Malo on one album. You may see Thee Midniters and Malo playing at the same concert, but you won't see them performing one song from that Ascension album. I heard a group called The Company Band, from the San Fernando Valley, play a song called "Everlasting Nights." I did research on the internet to find out that the original artist was Malo with Willie G. It blew my freaking mind! Chingators, why aren't these two legends singing such a beautiful song in concert? I salute The Company Band for keeping it alive.

All you Latin Legends, if you're reading this, or if you know one of them, take a cue from Rudy & Steve Salas. It's never too late to put differences aside and reunite even for a couple of songs. How grateful I am to be able to witness history in the making again like that.

Frankie "Cannibal" Garcia of Cannibal & The Headhunters has passed on, and we will never be able to see him perform with his band again. But most of the original members of Malo, War, Tierra, Thee Midniters, and El Chicano are still alive and kicking. Please, let's not wait to give these band members praise in a eulogy. Let's praise and enjoy their talent now that they're alive and capable of performing with their original lineups. Wow, what a concert that will be.

You may say that I don't understand contracts or lawsuits and you're right, I don't. I understand legacies and honor. I understand acknowledging people while they're still alive. It's never too late until you're six feet under.

Our beloved hermanito Romeo Prado was able to play with his band from beginning to end. There weren't other musicians robbing him of that right to play his music. He played until he wasn't able to perform anymore. What an honor it was to have the blessing of being able to watch him play with the band he loved so dearly. I can say to myself, "That's the same person from Thee Midniters I saw at the Golden Gate Theater on Whittier & Atlantic in East L.A. back in the 60s that I saw perform with Thee Midniters in 2005."

I leave you with this: Let's not deny our Latin Legends the honor they deserve as musicians and the blessings we deserve as an audience.

Romeo is smiling down at us in heaven. May God bless each and every one of you, and especially the Prado family.

Mr. Duran

About Richard Duran,:
Richard Duran hosts "Thee Mr. Duran Show," which airs Wednesdays at 8pm Pacific. Watch it live online at http://www.mrduran.com

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