Malo is one of the most successful and enduring Latin Rock bands in the world. This year, 2007, they're celebrating their 35th anniversary. Their biggest hit, "Suavecito," reached #18 on the Billboard charts in April of 1972. They've played all over the world and have performed on bills with The Rolling Stones and Queen. Malo has at least 10 albums to their credit and continue to tour. In 1997, along with Tierra and El Chicano, they recorded a live album called "Latin Legends Live." The three bands have toured extensively since as "Latin Legends."
To get the story of Malo, it begins with lead singer Arcelio Garcia. Arcelio was born in Puerto Rico and moved to San Francisco with his family when he was three years old. When he was a teenager, some friends of his had a singing group and asked him to sing with them because their baritone had gone into the army. Arcelio didn't know if he could sing, but said he'd give it a shot. He found that he liked it and started to learn from his more experienced friends. One day a car drove by while Arcelio was singing on the sidewalk with his group. The driver told Arcelio he liked his voice and asked him if he would join his band. Arcelio checked it out and joined the band called The Malibus, named after the sporty Cheverolet. They went on to become a very well known and popular band in the Bay area in the mid-sixties. At first they played mainly R&B, but later started to add Latin music to the mix. Three or four years into the career of The Malibus, a guitarist was brought in by the name of Jorge Santana, the brother of the already famous Carlos Santana.
In 1970 the Malibus changed their name to Malo and things started happening. By 1971 they were signed to Warner Brothers Records and recorded their first album which was simply titled "Malo" (BS 2584). Arcelio co-wrote four of the six songs, including their classics "Nena" and "Cafe." Released in 1972, "Malo" also included "Suavecito" which had evolved from a song they had written and been doing in clubs called "My Love." One of the band members at the time, Richard Bean, wrote a new lyric which gave birth to a major hit record. Malo members Pablo Tellez and Abel Zarate also got credit for the composition. "Suavecito" led to world tours and laid the groundwork for their career of over three decades so far. The members on the first album were: Arcelio Garcia, lead vocals; Jorge Santana, lead guitar; Abel Zarate, lead guitar, vocals; Pablo Tellez, bass; Richard Spremich, drums; Richard Kermode, keyboards; Luis Gasca, trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals; and Roy Murray, 2nd trumpet, trombone, flute and sax. Guest musicians included Coke Escovedo, timbales; Victor Pantoja, congas; and Richard Bean, timbales and lead vocal on "Suavecito." Malo has always had a "melting pot" of an ethnic mix, with Chicanos, Anglos, and people of Puerto Rican, Nicaraguan and Filipino descent. Later in 1972, Warner Brothers released Malo's second album , "Dos" (BS 2652), followed by "Evolution" (BS 2702) in 1973. In 1974, Arcelio was incorrectly diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. It turned out to be yellow jaundice, but he was unable to sing for a year. This was the period when Little Willie G, formerly of Thee Midniters of East L.A., came in and became lead singer for Malo. Willie did one album with Malo titled "Ascencion" (BS 2769) and toured with the band. This album was Malo's last with Warner Brothers. Back in good health, Arcelio, who owns the Malo name and logo, moved to New York City and started a new Malo. This resulted in the release of an album titled "MaloV" in 1981. Arcelio then came back to the west coast, where he has been based ever since. In 1986, Malo had an album called "Coast To Coast" on the Blue Heron label. "Senorita" was released on GNP Crescendo Records in 1995. In 1997, two albums were issued, "Malo Rocks The Rockies" on an independent label, and "Latin Legends Live" on Thump Records, which features Malo, Tierra and El Chicano. The Latin Legends album was recorded live at The Hop in Puente Hills, California, and it has sold very well according to Arcelio.
Malo's current lineup includes: Arcelio Garcia, lead vocals; Octaviano, lead vocals; Gabriel Manzo, lead guitar; David George, drums; Gibby Ross, timbales; Daniel Cervantes, keyboards; Constantine (Gus) Bogios, bass; Frank Bailey, trumpet; Jack Musgrove, trumpet; Pete Rodriguez, trombone; and on selected occasions, the legendary Jorge Santana on guitar.
Malo has given back to the community by doing many benefits for schools and other good causes over the years. They recently raised over $35,000 to refurbish public baseball fields for Latino teams in the Bay area. Arcelio is also proud of the fact some of Malo's music, including two songs he co-wrote, "Nena" and "Cafe," are in college music textbooks. He jokingly says that was the only way he was going to get to college.