After many years of playing music Gene Romero is releasing his first music CD. This CD is a compilation of the music that I have written in the many years of playing in musical groups. I was born in Clovis, New Mexico. My mother, Elizabeth "Chabela" Griego is from Puerto de Luna,NM and my father Eugenio hails from Clovis, NM. It was in Clovis where I was introduced to my first taste of music. Mom and I lived with Grandma Mage Romero and all of my dad's younger brother's while my dad was serving in the armed forces, like many did back then. Grandma Mage was very religious. She had a little wooden alter with a bright colored embroidered mantel, candles and saint figurines, and pictures of Jesus on her bedroom wall. Every night she'd kneel and read the Bible by candle light, and when the spirit would lift her, we could hear her play piano and sing, in a soft and light voice. My Tio Roberto played accordion and some guitar. When the family would get together on the weekends at grandma Mage's, my Tio would find a spot and play. He would shake his shoulders and move his body a certain way when he would play. And even though he played traditional Norteno music, I think he was a "Rockabilly", but he didn't know it. I may have gotten bit by the "I want to play music and dance bug" back then! My family moved to Albuquerque when I was about five years old. Dad worked construction while mom worked at home and took care of us young'ns. I guess we were family oriented, because when we moved to Albuquerque, we lived next door to my other grandparents, Celso and Carolina Griego, on my mother' side. We were there for a few years till mom and dad bought a lot in southeast Albuquerque, just down the street from my grandparents. My Dad started construction on the house with scrap material that he'd get from the construction site he was working at. He managed to build two rooms, the kitchen and the living room, by that time there were six of us young'ns. Dad was a Forman for the company he was with, they got a contract in Galllup, and off he went. He'd come home on the weekends looking tired and lonely and was happy to be home. This went on for quite some time. In the meantime my Tio Lupe' and my Tia Tile' bought the lot next to ours and started building their house. Gramda Mage would come and stay with us a spell. When she came by in the summer of 57', she seemed some what preoccupied. One day she pulled me over and asked if we could talk. I said sure gradma, so we sat and talked. I was fourteen at the time. She asked me a strange question. She asked me that if I had a choice to choose a parent to live with, which one would I choose? My parents seemed alright and we didn't see any pending separation. I asked why grandma? For no reason she said. I had lived with mom while dad worked out of town, mom was very supportive of me, and I responded that I would choose mom. Tears welled up and she hugged me and started to cry. I knew grandma Mage was religious and very intuitive, but what happened the following year, was very eerie. In the wee hours of June 12, 1958, a policeman came and knocked on our door Mom stepped out and all of a sudden we hear mom yelling no, no, no and she ran next door to my tio's house, my tio came out and the policeman told him that dad had been involved in an accident and that he had died at the scene from injuries. Mom had to take on another parent role and became very strict with us. She wouldn't let us go anywhere, or do anything with our friends. We couldn't listen to the radio, TV was limited. In the meantime some of our uncles helped us in finishing our house. Father Bulman from the church we attended heard about our dad and started helping and counseling the family. He had us enrolled at the church parochial school at no charge. Mom finally started to loosen up and in the mornings we'd listen to the radio while getting ready for school. The music that was coming out through the airwaves was incredible, Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Ritchie Valens, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and many more. I was hooked! I met a fellow student who was interested in rock 'n' roll music also. He had a steel lap guitar and was learning country music. His family came from Columbus, Ohio. His name was Paul Spradlin, and we hit it off real good and started hanging out. He asked me if I wanted to learn how to play guitar? Yeah! I said. He had a Stella standard guitar that he sold me for $5.00. After school and in the summer we'd practice all the time. We learned a few tunes and played for school dances. We'd play a few songs and then they would spin some records. After living in Albuquerque for a few years, my friends' family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. In the summertime we'd visit each other and jam. A few years had passed when Paul called and asked if I wanted to join a group in Phoenix that was starting up that looked very promising. I was already playing with other musicians in Albuquerque and so I didn't go. The group they formed was called Goose Creek Symphony. This was back in the late 60's. This group has been playing together till this day. They have gathered a large fan base of two generations and they pack the houses where ever they play. Going back to the early 60's: I met Chuck Klingbeil who played keyboards through another musician friend, Gary Lowery who played bass. We practiced and learned a couple of sets. We'd play for family parties and even though we didn't get paid, we were happy just to play. We were playing for a family party when my Tio Lalo and Aunt Jane offered to buy me a new guitar. I was playing a Sears Silvertone guitar (which I still have). The guitar they bought for me was a 1962 Starburst Fender Strat, man was it sharp. The group fizzled out. Chuck and I became good friends and played together. We went through several drummers looking to find the right one. One day Chuck calls me up and says he wants to try another drummer out. So we get together on Saturday morning at Chucks house. This young guy drives up with his dad and he sets up his drums and we start playing some tunes. Man this 13 year old blew me away, he was terrific! That's when I first met Randy Castillo. I was playing guitar back then and so we got a friend of mine Fred Radman to play bass. We went in the studio and recorded a couple of tunes and we took it to a guy that had a TV program, Albuquerque's answer to American Bandstand called Johnny's Record Party who featured local bands on his program. We called ourselves "The Gremlins" We started getting recognition. We gigged for a couple of years doing frat houses and private parties and we even opened up for Jimmy Clanton, who was being backed by Al Hurricane and The Night Rockers. I took up the bass guitar and was sitting in with different bands when Randy Castillo calls me up and tells me that we ought to form our own group. James Brown, Sam and Dave, Wilson Picket and many R&B artists was what was happening. We got a trumpet player Pete Cockroft, a sax player Max Peralta, guitar Ray Cruz and a dancer /vocalist friend of mine, Doc Rand. "The Purple Blues" was formed. We'd practice every weekend at Randy's house. We put a show together and got tight. We went in the studio and recorded a couple of songs and we played at all the teen clubs in Albuquerque and around the state. We had a good following, and our song, " I need a woman" made #1 for two weeks on the local radio station. We were asked to open up for the "Young Rascals" who were hot at the time. Somebody wanted to enlarge the band and have two of everything. I didn't like the idea so I left the group. I gigged around and played with different bands The Chekkers, Freddy Williams and the Keynotes and other R&B bands. The last band that I gigged with Randy Castillo and Chuck Klingbeil, were The Tabs. We went out to California but it didn't work out. We came back to Albuquereque and each went their separate ways. Randy got interested in Rock music and played with many impressive Rock bands till he finally ended up playing with Ozzy Osbourne and made his mark in Rock history. Chuck Klinbeil died of cancer and a few years later Randy Castillo dies of cancer also. Rest in peace my brother's Randy and Chuck. In the early 70's I was working at Paris Shoe store in Albuquerque when in walks a musician friend of mine, by the name of Roberto Griego. He asks me if I would like to join his group. That was my first taste of New Mexico Spanish music and I loved it. Perry Garcia was the drummer. We went into the studio to record a couple of songs he wrote "Un Pobre No Mas", "No Mas Pensando" and a cover tune "Hay Ojitos". Roberto's songs were a hit and he started getting very popular and we gigged all over the place. He recorded the rest of the album with a Mariachi and the group expanded by two horns, Gabby Gabaldon (trumpet) and Mike Silva (sax). We played for several years and I then left the band. I needed a break from the music scene and I ended up in Las Vegas,NM working on rock crushing plant in the middle of winter, boy did that ever make me appreciate being a musician. I returned to Albuquerque looking for a band job when Roberto Griego called me and told me that a Latin Trio group by the name of Los Romanticos, was looking for a bass player. The bass player and the guitarist went to Mexico to visit their families and they couldn't get back into the U.S. Adelso Lemus (requinto) went to L.A. and brought Nazario Alba (guitarist) into the group. They had a young lady who had been singing in the group by the name of Kay Kay Baca. I auditioned and I got the gig. That was my first taste of Latin Trio music. Adelso was the leader of the group and always had good gigs. He had a seamstress who made all the suits for the band and we looked sharp. Adelso was a good friend of Val De La O who had a Spanish program that featured Latin music. We started to do that show and we got popular. We were filling up the houses and had a good following. We were on the show quite a bit. Adelso started to get gigs out of town, Las Vegas, El Paso and other places. I was married and had started a family and didn't want to leave my family alone, so I left the group. I got me a day job and I went back to doing gigs with Roberto Griego on the weekends. A long while passed and something happened on the road with Los Romanticos and the group disbanded. Nazario called me up and asked if I wanted to start another Latin trio group. I was excited about it. Alberto Marin played requinto and was a fabulous musician and singer. Rudy Sanchez (drummer). By then I was pretty well versed in the Latin music field, so putting the music together was no problem. We started to do the Val De La O show again and got popular very quickly. We'd pack the club every night. This went on for a few years and then Alberto Marin left the group and was replaced by Octavio Borrego (requinto). He fit right in and we didn't miss a beat, we were still packing them in and doing the Val De La O Show which was always a good promotional tool. Some of the band members wanted to go on the road. We ended up in Sante Fe, NM at La Fonda where we packed the house every night. We'd get one night off and I would come home for one day then I'd leave again. This became a real strain on me and the tensions got so as I decided that I'd leave the group. I applied for a job for the State of NM. I had been working there for a while when I met Jerry Jaramillo while I was in the recording studio doing some bass parts for some friends who were recording their album. Jerry already had a record album out so we decided to put a group together. We auditioned drummers until we found Lee Gonzales. We named the group "Brown River Band", and worked every weekend doing private gigs as well as clubs and gathered a good following. The band expanded and we got Danny Jojola on keyboards and Tommy Lujan on lead guitar. Jerry got a record deal and went on the road to promote his album which was recorded by studio musicians in Nashville. The group disbanded and I stayed with the bar gig playing on the weekends. I played with different musicians until we got the right combination. Denny Knott played fiddle, now he's with "The Kelly J Band" out of Denver. Rich Koc who played pedal steel, and Mark Witby was on the drums. I played with The Brown River Band for ten years. I then was asked to join another group that was starting up in Albuquerque. We named the band Southern Comfort. Richard Martinez was leader and played keyboards, Thadeus Grothaus played drums and we had two lead guitar players at different intervals, Ron Ramirez and Marty Zamora. The band lasted about seven years playing country music. In the meantime I was going through tough changes in my personal life. I was doing six nighters and working in the day time till I crashed. I left the group and took a break from the music scene. I had the radio on one day, when I heard a song that just blew me away. It was a song by a Mexican artist Jose Alfredo Jimenez called El Rey. I went to the record store and bought the tape, The name of the group was The New Mexx Band. The band had won an award for that song and at the New Mexico Music Awards show. I went backstage and introduced myself to Tommy Eylicio. I told him that the style of music he was doing was terrific. A couple of months later I get a call from Tommy and tells me he's looking for a bass player and if I would be interested? I jumped at the chance. Tommy is a very talented musician and his love was Tejano music, and he played funk like nobody's business. Don Cardona was the drummer and is a good vocalist. We were working as a trio and looking for a keyboard player, when Will Patterson walks in the club and sits in. Will fit right in and started gigging with us. Will had played southern rock and blues and played good lead guitar also. Tommy was about to release another CD and he asked if I had anything I'd like to put in the CD. I had recorded an original song of mine with Max Donny Baca of Flaco Jimenez, Texas Tornados and now Texmaniacs fame, and so "Este Amor" was put in the CD. There was no promotional effort behind the CD, and we didn't do anything with it, we got airplay from a few radio stations one of the songs made # 1 for a few weeks,and eventually went into obscurity, but eventually it will prove to be one of New Mexico's best CD's ever recorded, it was years ahead of it's time. While playing with The New Mexx Band I met a lady who had recorded a song the 60's called Angel Baby, yep it was Rosie of Rosie and The Originals. I gigged with Rosie and her band for a couple of years doing local gigs and gigs out in California. We went into the studio and recorded a couple of songs. We backed up a few artists out in California, including Al Wilson and Barbara Lynn. It was exciting for me to meet some R&B legends. Meanwhile back in New Mexico, Tommy decided to change the name of the band because the name NEW MEXX BAND gave the connotation of the band playing only Latin music and so some venues were blocked because of it. The new name was Power Drive Band, a name Tommy had in another band in his early musical career. When the Cactus Juice CD was being considered, I asked Tommy if he would help me record the CD. He had a friend who had Song Dog Recording Studio and we'd go in on Sunday mornings and layed down eight main tracks. I wanted to give the CD a southwestern theme. I had been listening to western swing music from a lot of artists from the past, Bob Wills, Jimmy Revard and others. After a few months passed, I asked a long time friend of mine, Lawrence Martinez who played violin in a mariachi group since he was a boy, if he could lay down the fiddle tracks. After listening to the music he agreed. We drove early Sunday morning to Grants, N.M., went into the studio and he layed down four tracks, a few weeks later we went in again and he layed down four more. Will Patterson and I had layed down some tracks for another song of mine the year before, "You Don't Know Me At All" and so we went in and finished it up at Boony Toons Studio in Placitas, N.M. I had one more original song to record, so Will and I arranged the song. I played the huapango rhythm on the guitar and Will played the keys, bass guitar and lead acoustic guitar. "Nuestro Angelito" was done.
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