Monday, December 15, 2008

Latino singing legend looking for resurgence

Suavecito - The Legend Lives On
Singer, songwriter looking for rebirth
Adrian Perez, Latino Journal/Vida de Oro

Sacramento, CA – The unique California Latin Rock sound was born in the late 1960’s out of San Francisco’s Mission District. The fusion of percussion instruments with electric guitars and keyboards produced the power sound of Santana. To top that, Latino bands introduced horns, creating a unique blend of salsa and rock. Out of this sound, the band MALO was born. A highly talented and energetic band comprised of legendary musicians like Aurelio Garcia, Gorge Santana, and Luis Gasca. But their status as a legendary Latino band is attributed to their 1972 hit single “Suavecito.”

Today, and 35 years later, “Suavecito,” (Spanish for soft) continues to be the staple song at Latino events including birthdays, baptisms, quinceneras, weddings, and anniversaries. It has a high rotation in R&B and oldies format radio stations. In fact, some DJ’s have referred to “Suavecito” as the Chicano National Anthem. But, who wrote this legendary ballad and where is he?

Meet Richard Bean, a former saxophone/timbale player and former lead singer/songwriter for the super group MALO. Bean now performs his legendary song with his own group, SAPO. And, after all these years, he still croons “Suavecito” with his hypnotic silky smooth voice, setting a romantic mood in any setting and in any language.

“I would have never known to this day that that song would’ve been so popular worldwide and inspire so many people in so many different ways,” Bean tells Jonathan Perez, host of Americas’ Music Café on

Bean says he sacrificed two years of algebra class, focused on writing poems instead of learning numbers. “Suavecito” was initially written as a love poem for his girlfriend, but she broke his heart before he was able to share it with her, and instead, it became a song many Latinos relate to the first kiss, falling in love, or getting married.

After recording “Suavecito” for Warner Brothers Records, Bean left MALO, attributing his departure to creative differences. Yet today, MALO continues to perform many of Bean’s songs, including Suavecito. And as for Bean, he formed another band with his brother and called it SAPO (Spanish for frog). When asked why SAPO, Bean replied “…Jumpin.”

Recently, recording artists Sugar Ray dedicated a platinum album to Bean because of the influence he had on their super hit, “Every Morning.”

To experience the full interview, tune in to Americas’ Music Café on Channel 9 at

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