European and African traditions only tell part of rock ‘n’ roll’s story. There are many ties to Mexico, as well, as the following gallery of notable Mexican-American musicians shows.
You’ll find early pioneers, including Ritchie Valens and the Sir Douglas Quintet, who served in lasting foundation roles. Artists like Carlos Santana, Robert Trujillo and Dave Navarro infused the classic-rock genre with fire and intellect from the Woodstock era and the ’70s to end-of-the-century alt-rock through today.
? and the Mysterians and Thee Midniters gave the music a garage-band edge, while the Plugz and the Zeros stirred in punk attitude. Joan Baez and Linda Ronstadt helped define the singer-songwriter era, one framing issues of social justice while the other told more personal tales. Later, Ronstadt turned more fully toward her Mexican heritage, releasing a series of well-received Spanish-language albums, including the double-platinum Canciones de Mi Padre.
Santana and Ronstadt, both members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, long ago earned their well-deserved recognition beyond moments at the top of the charts. Trujillo and Navarro remain vital parts of today’s rock scene. But too often the figures featured in the following gallery, as well as their legacies over the years, have been overlooked. Check it all out below, as we examine Mexican-Americans’ contributions to classic-rock history.