Willie Herron was in 'Los Illegals' back in the day. He was one of the most talented men I ever knew. Not only was he a good writer and musician in a leading edge bi-lingual/bi-cultural punk band of the time but before he immersed himself into music ,he was a member of the legendary artist group 'Asco' (also included the great muralists and painters Gronk, Harry Gamboa Jr. and Patssi Valdez)
Willie was a sign painter who later created some of the most profound Chicano murals on the East side. Among them my favorite the infamous 'Wall That Cracked Open' (pictured)
I met him a few times at a watering hole in City Terrace we both shared. He reminded me of Michael Jackson, an introvert until under the spot light, a flamboyant showman who obviously pondered every detail, an idea man, a gay man in an unfavorable environment. He was a tireless creator of the obscure who cared for the importance of the moment.
Willie had no Quincy Jones or T Bone Burnett to help him make his ideas realities, but in the 'hood Willie was a Prince. Not only did he open doors for the suppressed fringe artists who struggled with their disparity but in a Mexican community where Catholicism and deep rooted conservatism reigned, Willie broke barriers and helped introduce new ideologies.
I thought of Willie while watching the MJ funeral. I cried for all the lost souls whose talents never saw the light of day, for the struggling and the rejected, the uncompromising.
Michael's life may have been one of unbalanced inadequacies but his talent was undeniable. His story is so ingrained in children as to rival Abraham Lincoln's. Willie Herron's will always be in mine.
I would be remiss if I didn't tell you he's still playing music with his band and probably doing things Willie's way. If your interested look him up on the internet. Discover a jewel of the East side and a pioneer that he is. I'm sure that you'll be distracted by the many interesting projects and people that surround him and that very interesting time in the 60's, 70's and 80's.