By Francisco H. Ciriza
Mexico City’s El Tri and its leader, Alex Lora, are the epitome of living legends. Lora is himself, a virtual encyclopedia of rock en Español history. His musical career began in the late sixties, with his first group, Three Souls in My Mind, played rock and roll and sang all of its songs in English. However, by the time the group was to record its third album, Lora decided to start singing in Spanish.
Lora, who recently spoke to La Prensa San Diego from Mexico, explained the reason for the change.
“[The decision to sing in Spanish] stemmed from the necessity to truly communicate with my audience,” Lora said recently from his home in Mexico City. I wanted people to understand me, to sing with me time and time again,” he added.
The late sixties and early seventies were marked by major social events in Mexico. First was the infamous 1968 massacre of 267 people and wounding of nearly 1,000 more by Mexican soldiers in Mexico City’s presidential plaza, El Zocalo. The brutal attack of mostly students, marked the divergence between idealism and the realities of corruption and a true police state. In 1971, el Festival de Avarando, (the Mexican Woodstock) in which Lora and company participated, was staged in Mexico City. Organizers expected approximately 10,000 fans, but somewhere between 300,000 to 500,000 fans attended easily overwhelming security and other resources.
While rock and roll was all but outlawed in Mexico, it thrived by first moving underground. The underground scene eventually grew so large, it rose from the darkness to prominence thanks the legitimacy and sheer will of its many big names to come. Caifanes, Maldita Vecindad, and Café Tacuba have roots in this scene and eventually triumphed by eventually being invited to play Mexico City’s Fine Arts Palace and sports arena which symbolize the very establishment which sought to extinguish the rock movement.
Riding the momentum of the lingering backlash of these events, Lora’s decision to sing in Spanish, was quite possibly the birth of modern Mexican rock and roll.
“The government tried to extinguish rock and roll, but it didn’t happen,” said Lora.
Lora and El Tri are now themselves an institution in Mexico and around the Spanish speaking world due in large part to songs that have appealed to a wide range of people of various social classes. El Tri’s music was also recently honored by its peers on the tribute album aptly entitled, El Tri-Buto (2003 WEA Mexico) and featuring acts ranging from metal to Norteño.
“Our music transcends rock and roll. When we sing [live], everybody sings. We are 100 perecent for the people by the people. We’ve captured four generations with our music,” Lora said.
Lora and El Tri, touring in support of their 37th release, Más Allá Del Bien y Del Mal (Fonivisa), bring their rollicking blues-based rock to Chula Vista’s Over The Border for two nights of sing-along fun on April 9 and 10.