Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rudy and his Reno Bops on Rio 101

Reno Bops - Cry, Cry/Ramblin' (Rio 101)

Reno Bops - Vocal by Rudy T. - "Cry, Cry"

If Rudy "Tee" Gonzales's dating of "Cry, Cry" to 1957 is correct, then it is one of the first Chicano rock and roll singles. Why then isn't it better known? I don't know, but most singles on Hymie Wolf's Rio label were probably pressed in small quantities, thus it could be that this single's continued obscurity is the result of so few copies surviving until now. It has never been reissued. It is also the only rock single on Rio, a label that was to conjunto music what Sun was to rockabilly.

The Reno Bops, originally Conjunto Los Panchitos, were one of several San Antonio groups making the radical transition from traditional conjunto to rock and roll in the mid-fifties. "When I was in the ninth grade, I started listening to rock and roll, things like 'Lonely Nights' by Johnny Guitar Watson and the Jacks' 'Why Don't You Write Me,'" Rudy told Ruben Molina in his book Chicano Soul. "I just went ape. I thought, 'Man, what kind of music is this? I may be Chicano, but I love this stuff.' I started going to the black clubs, like the Bel-Air Club on Commerce Street, just to learn what they were doing."

Rudy and the boys came back and re-recorded a stronger version of "Cry, Cry" a couple of years later for Blaze Records. This will be also be posted here in the near future.

Below: Rudy and the Reno Bops in San Antonio in the late '50s.