Monday, October 23, 2017

R.I.P. Al Hurricane

I was on the air doing my radio show last night when I learned of the death of Alberto Sanchez, better known as Al Hurricane. He died from prostate cancer, He was 81.

Al was the undisputed king of New Mexico music. I've been a fan for about 40 years but I didn't get to meet him until 1998 when I interviewed him for the New Mexican. At that point he still was going strong as a musician.

Here's a copy of that interview

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
June 7, 1998

It's star time New Mexico style.

The band is pumping a Norteno beat and the audience is warmed up. Literally. It's an outdoor show on a hot afternoon, but nobody seems to mind the sweat and the sun.

"Are you ready for the star of the show?'' the man behind the keyboards asks. The crowd roars in approval.

"Well, sorry. We're not bringing him out yet.'' But the bandleader's smile gives away his little joke. "No, I'm just kidding. Here he is, ladies and gentleman, the star of the show, the Godfather of New Mexico music, and my father, Mr. Al Hurricane!''

The Godfather emerges from his tour bus parked to the left of the stage as all eyes turn to him. He cuts a dashing figure white suit, white shoes, a mop of black curly hair and a face marked by a black eye patch a grim souvenir of a life as a traveling musician turned into a celebratory trademark of a man and his music.

"Orale!" Hurricane shouts, waving his hand in greeting and grinning. Some shout back. Others just clap and cheer louder. By now it's a standing ovation and he hasn't even started.

He basks in the moment. This more than the money, he says is what propels Alberto Nelson Sanchez, the man behind the Hurricane.

For about 40 years Sanchez/Hurricane has been making a living with his music. He owns his own record company, Hurricane Records, which still thrives in the age of the compact disc. In past years his family also owned its own recording studio and nightclub in Albuquerque.

And while the entertainment business is full of stories of careers destroying family relationships, the musician's road seems to have had an opposite effect on the Sanchez clan.

Hurricane has shared the stage with his younger brothers "Tiny Morrie" and "Baby Gaby," who was part of a recent show at Camel Rock Casino. He has seen his son, Al Jr., grow up to become his bandleader, and his nieces and nephews find musical careers of their own. He currently is working with his youngest daughters on what he hopes will turn into a recording project.

But the road has had its share of pain and loss for Hurricane as well.

He lost an eye in an automobile wreck on the way to a gig in Colorado in November 1969.

Both of his marriages ended in divorce, the second one with extremely tragic consequences.

In 1986, soon after his second divorce, his ex-wife's boyfriend killed his 2-year-old daughter. The boyfriend, Ruben Lopez, and Hurricane's ex-wife each were convicted of charges of child abuse resulting in death. Both served time in prison. Hurricane had a heart attack soon after the killing.

But his family, his music and his fans all helped him heal and go on.

The Godfather! ("Don't call me `El Padrino'," he later cautions a reporter. "There's a singer down in Texas who goes by El Padrino.") As the crowd outside of Camel Rock Casino cheers, it's easy to see that the man called Hurricane has won a big spot in their hearts. And you can tell he feels that love. Maybe that's why he doesn't immediately take the stage, but goes right for the center of the crowd.

Holding a wireless microphone, Hurricane sings his first several tunes right there among the people. Between songs he shakes hands with his fans, tells jokes with the men and flirts with the ladies. (Nothing raunchy, mind you. Not far away in the audience is Bennie Sanchez Hurricane's mother). During one song, he dances with a little girl who has come to the show with her parents.

Indeed, it's an all-ages show. As Hurricane finally joins his band on stage and more couples start dancing, you can see many generations. Men and women who look old enough to be the parents of the 61-year-old Hurricane dance next to couples in their teens not to mention small children who scamper about the concert area.

It's an inter-generational gathering on stage also. Hurricane's son, Al Jr., 38, leads the band and is a recording artist in his own right. At the recent Camel Rock gig, two daughters, Erika, 20 and 13-year-old Danielle the twin sister of the girl who was killed sang a few songs. Other sons and daughters have played with him in the past.

Hurricane has been playing music in public since he was younger than Danielle.

He was born in Dixon in 1936, but spent most of his early years in Ojo Sarco. His mother gave him the nickname "Hurricane'' as a child.

"I couldn't reach across the table without spilling a bunch of things and knocking everything over," he said in a recent interview at one of his favorite Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque.

The Sanchez family moved to Albuquerque when Al was 9 years old. At first he found himself picked on because of his light complexion and natural blonde hair. (His jet black toupee is one of the worst-kept secrets in New Mexico entertainment circles).

But his music helped him win acceptance. Both his mother and his father, Margarito, who died in 1979, encouraged him in this direction, he said.

As a youngster he worked as a strolling troubadour at restaurants in Albuquerque's Old Town. As a student at Albuquerque High School he formed his own band.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Bennie Sanchez began a career of promoting rock shows at the old Civic Auditorium in Albuquerque. Among those who performed were James Brown, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. Hurricane said he played with Chubby Checker in Santa Fe at a show his mother produced.

The young Hurricane's group was frequently chosen to open the show for touring national acts and sometimes was hired as a ``pickup'' band for famous singers coming through town without their own backup groups.

This is how Hurricane hooked up with Fats Domino. For a short time he traveled with Domino, though he said he turned down a chance to tour Europe as a part of Domino's band in the early 1960s because he did not want to leave his wife and young children.

Hurricane had married his high school sweetheart Nettie. The couple had four children Al Jr., Darlene, Sandra and Jerry.

Hurricane said he also played some concerts as a guest guitarist with Marvin Gaye's band in the mid-1960s.

While he loved rock and soul music, by the late 1960s he realized "people here were hungry for Latino music."
The Godfather-to-be cut his first album Mi Saxophone in 1967 for a small independent record company. Soon after that, he and his family started Hurricane Records, which produced albums for Hurricane, Tiny Morrie and Baby Gaby, and later Al Jr.

More than 40 albums would be released on vinyl during the next couple of decades. Like other record companies in recent years, Hurricane now only deals in CDs and tapes. Hurricane said he has six of his own albums currently available on CD.

Meantime, brother Morrie and his mother set up a family recording studio on San Mateo Boulevard, purchasing recording gear from Norman Petty Studios in Clovis. "Norman Petty offered us a deal on his Buddy Holley equipment," Hurricane said.

And noticing that there was no venue in Albuquerque for Chicano music, the family bought the Far West nightclub on west Central Avenue.

Thus the Sanchezes became a mini-music industry of their own recording music at their own studio, distributing it on their own label and playing live at their own nightclub.

The family toured quite a bit in those days, mainly through the Western states with cities that had sizable Hispanic communities.

It was on the way to one of those out-of-state gigs that Hurricane lost his right eye.

"It was November First, 1969, in Walsenberg, Colorado,'' Hurricane recalled. "We were in our way up to a show in Denver. I was in a car, there were six of us, band members, you know. We were pulling a trailer with our equipment. Tiny, Gabe and my mom were behind us about two or three hours.''

The car hit an icy bridge and started to slide, Hurricane said. ``It turned over five times and I came out of the driver's side.''

There was a shard of glass stuck in his eye.

Hurricane's wife and children came to the hospital, he said. They got off the elevator as nurses wheeled him by in a gurney, "I heard my wife tell my son, `Look at that poor man. I hope your dad is not in that bad of shape.' My face was so swollen up my own wife didn't recognize me.''

The accident and the new eye patch didn't stop the music. But his first marriage soon came to an end. Hurricane remarried in 1971.

With his new wife, Hurricane had four more children Nelson, Erika and the twins Danielle and Lynnea.

By the early 1980s, Hurricane decided to sell the nightclub and the recording studio.

Tiny Morrie and his family moved to Mexico, where his son Lorenzo Antonio became something of a teen idol. Morrie's daughters would form a Spanish-language pop group called Sparx a few years down the road.

Baby Gaby by this point had decided to quit the music business. He became a postal worker but still performs occasionally.

The mid-1980s became the most horrible time in Hurricane's life the second divorce, the killing of Lynnea, the heart attack, which he says came about due to the stress of losing his little girl.

Lynnea Sanchez was pronounced dead on arrival at University of New Mexico Hospital on Nov. 5, 1986. An autopsy later showed that she died of blunt trauma to the back or the abdomen.

Hurricane's wife, Angela Sanchez, then 34, and her boyfriend Ruben J. Lopez, then 44, were arrested. In September 1987 a jury convicted both of child abuse leading to death.

Lopez was sentenced to nine years in prison. He was released in 1992 and is still on parole. Angela Sanchez was sentenced to six years and served about half her term.

Hurricane said he had no choice but to go on and be strong. "She went to prison and suddenly I had to be the mother and the father of my children, '' Hurricane said. "You know it really touched me. Last Mother's Day my son Nelson called me and said `Happy Mother's Day, Dad. You were my father and mother.' ''

These days Al Hurricane has slowed down. Not nearly as much touring, just a couple of gigs a week. He says he's working on a new album but doesn't want to say when to expect it. "Whenever I say, it would be later,'' he said.

But he still loves the music, still loves the applause, still loves it when a fan interrupts an interview to get an autograph and a kiss.

And the Godfather loves passing his music on to a younger generation. He recalled a recent show at a school in Las Vegas, N.M. The students he said were just as enthusiastic, if not more, than his regular audiences. "They were grabbing me, caressing me, '' he said. "I told the vice principal later that I felt like Elvis Presley. He told me, `You are our Elvis Presley.' "

Here are some videos, starting with one that was produced by Natalie Guillen for The New Mexican two years ago:

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Sunday, Oct. , 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Norma by NRBQ
Spookmaster by The Ghastly Ones
Between Me and You, Kid/ Six Two One by Mudhoney
Swampland by Pere Ubu
Skippy is a Sissy by Roy Gaines
Ride With Me by Sulfur City
Jettisoned by Thee Oh Sees
Two Headed Demon by Urban Junior
Dispatch from Mar-A-Lago by L7

R.I.P. Al Hurricane

Mi Saxophone
La Mucura
El Burro Norteno

Bikini Girls with Machine Guns by The Cramps
Ghost Rider by The Gories
Bela Lugosi's Star by Nekromantix

It's the Law by Bob Log III
Red Wine by Juke Joint Pimps
Walk Out by Barrence Whitfield & The Savages
I'm Insane by T-Model Ford
Coffin Lid by Mark "Porkchop" Holder
Somebody's Child by The Routes
Marcia Funebre by Los Eskeletos
Thank You, Mr. K by Ty Segall
Teen Angel by Dirty Fences
What Can I Do? by Howlin' Max Messer

Cruel Cruel World by Jackie Shane
Chicken Pussy by Bongwater
The House at Pooneil Corners by Jefferson Airplane
Bad Attitude by Lisa Germano
In Germany Before the War by Marianne Faithfull
I'm Still Here by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, October 20, 2017


Friday, Oct. 20, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens
Til the Well Runs Dry by Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones
Big Time Annie's Square by Merle Haggard
How Cold Hearted Can You Get by Hank Thompson
Mama's Fried Potatoes by Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band
Okie's in the Pokie by Jimmy Patton
5 Minutes to Live by Joecephus & The George Jones Massacre
I Swear to God by Tyler Childers
Vandalism Spree by Hellbound Glory
Gamblin' Barroom Blues by Steve  Forbert
Cadillacin' by Paul Burch

Back Side of Dallas by Jeannie C. Riley
Shandy by Kris Kristofferson
The Taker by Ryan Bingham
Good Luck by Margo Price
Bellville County Line by Beth Lee & The Breakups
Sing a Worried Song by Legendary Shack Shakers
Such is the World We Live In by Chris Hillman
DYGKD by The Ghost Wolves

Bonaparte's Retreat by Pee Wee King
Bonaparte's Retreat by John Hartford
Flowers on the Wall by The Statler Brothers
You Broke My Heart by Steve Earle
Prayer by Ray Wylie Hubbard
You've Been a Good Old Wagon by David Bromberg
Aunt Peg's New Old Man by Robbie Fulks
Blues for Pilgrum by The Imperial Rooster
In the Boxcar by Joe West
You're Not My Same Sweet Baby by Chuck Prophet
Old Devil Time by Pete Seeger
Papa by Cynthia Becker
Nothing in This World for Me by Howard Armstrong
Happy Hour by Ted Hawkins
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Thursday, October 19, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: While the Fiddles Played "Bonaparte's Retreat."

Napoleon's Retreat from Moscow by Adolph Northen

It was on this day in 1812 that Napoleon Bonaparte, decided to retreat from Russia. In June of that year, he'd invaded with an army of 500,000 soldiers.  But things didn't go well.

As tells it:

During the opening months of the invasion, Napoleon was forced to contend with a bitter Russian army in perpetual retreat. Refusing to engage Napoleon’s superior army in a full-scale confrontation, the Russians under General Mikhail Kutuzov burned everything behind them as they retreated deeper and deeper into Russia. On September 7, the indecisive Battle of Borodino was fought, in which both sides suffered terrible losses. On September 14, Napoleon arrived in Moscow intending to find supplies but instead found almost the entire population evacuated, and the Russian army retreated again. Early the next morning, fires broke across the city set by Russian patriots, and the Grande Grande Armée’s winter quarters were destroyed. After waiting a month for a surrender that never came, Napoleon, faced with the onset of the Russian winter, was forced to order his starving army out of Moscow.

If that doesn't that sound like the basis for a good country song, I don't know what does.

Fastforward to 1937: Songcatcher Supreme Alan Lomax, traveling through Kentucky, recorded a fiddler named William Hamilton Stepp playing an old tune called "Bonaparte's Retreat." It sounded like this:

But before the tune made it into country music, it first had an impact on classical music. Aaron Copland used the melody for the main theme of his song "Hoe-Down" from his 1942 ballet Rodeo. Thus William Hamilton Stepp became rich and didn't have to work another day in his life.

Just kidding. Copland didn't give Stepp one bit of credit or a penny for the song.

Nice guy ...

In 1950, country star Pee Wee King added words to the melody. Nothing about burning Russian cities or starving soldiers. It was about a girl he met in a town way down in Dixie ....

Later in 1950, pop singer Kay Starr did a snazzy, jazzy version

Former Monkee Mike Nesmith, on his 1972 album Tantamount to Treason, took it to the realm of country rock (with a bizarre little intro that lasts about a minute before the vocals come in)

But my favorite version has always been by Glen Campbell, who turned it into a big country hit in the mis '70s. Here's a clip from a few years later on a TV show with Barbara Mandrell. She plays a mean steel guitar, but Campbell plays a meaner bagpipe.

I have to mention here that The Chieftains in 1976 released an album called Chieftains 6: Bonaparte's Retreat, the centerpiece of which is a 14-minute song called, you guessed it, "Bonaparte's Retreat." This actually is a medley of various tunes, seemingly unrelated to the song I've spotlighted here.

Unfortunately I couldn't find the whole piece on YouTube or Spotify or anywhere else, but I did spot the introduction.

So why didn't Napoleon XIV do a version of "Bonaparte's Retreat"?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Happy Birthday, Lee Harvey!

Lee & Marina: I can't remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride ...
Seventy eight years ago today, in the city of New Orleans a baby boy named Lee Harvey Oswald was born. He would grow up to change America.

As a young Marine he defected to the Soviet Union. But just a few years later he returned to the U.S. with his Russian bride.

Then, on Nov. 22, 1963, from a window of the Texas School Book Depository, he shot and killed President John F. Kennedy.

Unless you believe Oswald when he says he was just a Patsy.

Whatever the real story is, Oswald inspired some wild songs -- good, bad, ugly and beyond -- through the years.

Here are some of them. Let's start with that wigged out Texas combo, The Butthole Surfers, who to this day insist that "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave."

The Skatalites recorded this instrumental named for the assassin in Jamaica in the mid '60s -- while JFK's murder was still fresh on everyone's minds.

This one, "Love Song from Lee Harvey Oswald to Jackie Kennedy" by a guy named Albert DeMuth, is dark and abstract. It was released in October 2016.

And I would quell your endless doubt 
to be the lover you call 
with my back against the world 
and my ear against your wall. 

I just stumbled across this little piece of outsider art, posted only a couple of days ago. I wonder if the FBI has already visited Mr. Tommy Daniels.

But this Homer Henderson classic, "Lee Harvey," which also has been recorded by The Asylum Street Spankers, T. Tex Edwards, The Rockin' Guys, Laura Cantrell, Lucy Falcon and others, is the greatest Oswald song of all.

If you're into this sort of thing, check out my Tune-up column from a few years ago in which I reviewed Norton Records' Songs from The Grassy Knoll and the Conspiracy a Go-Go compilation from Turn Me On Dead Man Records.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Ring the Alarm by Quintron
Golden Key by The Vagoos
Don't Go Messin' by The Molting Vultures
Get Off the Road by The Man Eaters
Society of Plants by The Blind Shake
Stranger in Me Me by The Howlin' Max Messer Show
Hit the Road Jack by The Cat
Boys by The Beatles
Why is This Commercial by Negativland

Ghost of a Texas Ladies' Man by Concrete Blonde
The Black Cat by The Tombstones
Satanas es su Nombre by Los Eskeletos
Don't Shake Me Lucifer by Roky Erikson & The Aliens
Season of the Witch by Donovan
Sunshine Superman by Husker Du
Hurdy Gurdy Man by Butthole Surfers
Burn She Devil Burn by The Cramps

I'm in Love by Satan's Little Helpers
Home is Where the Hate Is by Mary's Kids
Burying the Bodies by Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons
Caught in the Devil's Game by The Darts
This Situation by Lucy & The Rats
Pink Stillettos by The Stillettos
Start Together by Sleater-Kinney
Never Say Never by Romeo Void
Love is All Around by Joan Jett
Lusty Little Lucy by Nick Curran & The Lowlifes

James Leg by mark "Porkchop" Holder
Oh Sinner Man by Black Diamond Heavies
Natchez Trace by Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls
You Went Away by Phil Hayes & The Trees
Red Eye Blues by Pere Ubu
The Curtain Falls by Bobby Darin
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Benefit and Life Celebration of Micah Chappell

Micah Chappell, drummer for the Santa Fe band Chango, died this morning. He'd been suffering a terminal disease.

Friends and family already had been planning a benefit show for him and his wife Chris Trusnovic-Chappell, who in addition to the emotional stress, has been under financial strain because of Micah's illness.

The above poster was created by Sam Haozous last night, obviously before Micah died. Now the show is a benefit for Chris and life celebration for Micah. It's Wednesday, Oct. 18 at The Underground (the basement of Evangelo's), 200 W. San Francisco St., in downtown Santa Fe. The show starts at 9 p.m.

Playing there will be The Imperial Rooster from Espanola and The Dildonts (who I haven't heard, though I love their name.) Also there will be a silent auction offering the works of Santa Fe artists.

In addition to Wednesday's event, there is a Go Fund Me campaign to help Chris.

Try to make this show.

R.I.P. Al Hurricane

I was on the air doing my radio show last night when I learned of the death of Alberto Sanchez , better known as Al...