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Tribute to Don Tosti
August 17, 2004

by Mark Guerrero

     On Tuesday night, August 17, 2004 an event was held to honor Don Tosti and to announce the donation of Mr. Tosti's collection, which includes items such as photos, music, papers, and recordings, to the University of California at Santa Barbara.  The event was organized and sponsored by the university, whose California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA) include a Performing Arts Collection to document the legacy of historic Mexican-American music in California.  Also helping to organize the event were musician Johnny Meza and his wife singer/music agent, Lola Rossi.  Several years ago, my family donated my dad's (Lalo Guerrero) collection to their archives.  When the director of CEMA, Salvador Guereña, was at my house collecting my dad's music on cds earlier in the year, I suggested he speak with Don Tosti about his collection.  I spoke to Don about it and hooked them up.  Shortly after their meeting and agreement for the Don Tosti collection to be donated to the university, Don was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.  Mr. Tosti's health was deteriorating when the Tribute to Don Tosti was being organized, but it was hoped Don would be able to  attend.  Unfortunately, he passed away on August 2nd, two weeks before the tribute.  Since it was a private event, with seating for around fifty guests, invitations were limited to close friends, family, and officials from CEMA.  I was asked by Sal Guereña to say a few words about Don Tosti's life and career at the Tribute.

     The Tribute was held at Las Casuelas Terraza Restaurant in Palm Springs, CA, which happens to be where my home gig is located.  I perform regularly year-round with my cover band, Hot Rox, when I'm not doing out of town concerts with my other band, Mark Guerrero & Radio Aztlán.  Some of the special guests at the Don Tosti Tribute were Chicano music legends Lalo Guerrero, Trini Lopez, and Manny Lopez, as well as Don's sister Marilyn Martinez-Wood and his nephew Steve Lewis.  The event was covered by the local newspaper, The Desert Sun, and the local CBS affiliate.  Sarah M. Pritchard, University Librarian, welcomed the guests and spoke briefly about the evening's program.  Sal Guereña addressed the audience next with information on the CEMA program and how the Don Tosti donation came about.  Mr. Guereña also announced Don Tosti's generous endowment to the university for the preservation of Mexican-American musical heritage.  Don's nephew, Steve Lewis, spoke next about his uncle and thanked everyone involved with organizing the event.  I followed with a presentation that included sound bytes from a 1998 interview I conducted with Don Tosti and from some of his recordings.  I spoke about Don's life and musical career with relevant comments in Don's own voice from the '98 interview followed by examples of his best music.  My presentation went extremely well and was very well received.  Don's sister Marilyn Martinez-Wood then briefly spoke about her brother as a gesture of family remembrance.  It was a warm and emotional gathering that celebrated his life, while mourning his passing.

See Program Cover and Schedule Below


Click here for Don Tosti info on CEMA website

 

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Mark Guerrero
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