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The Mark & the Escorts Story

by Mark Guerrero

     Mark & the Escorts were born in 1963 when Ernie Hernandez, age 12, walked three doors down to my house on McDonnell Avenue in East Los Angeles.  He had been playing drums for a year and had a guitar player friend of his over, a 14 year old African-American named Robert Warren.  Ernie knew I had recently acquired a Gibson electric guitar and amp so he invited me over to his house to play with them.  I was thirteen at the time and had nothing better to do so I went over.  Soon we were The Escorts, playing all instrumentals, mostly surf tunes like “Wipe Out,” “Pipeline,” and various songs by the Ventures and Dick Dale.  Occasionally, we threw in a blues song for good measure.  We started playing parties, weddings and dances for pay, sometimes for as much as five dollars a piece!  After about six months, we decided we needed a bass player so I asked my friend Rick Rosas (then known as Richard Rosas) to buy a bass and he could join the band.  Our next move was to add a lead singer and since I felt my voice was too young sounding, we added my childhood best friend, Ricky Almaraz.  A few months later, Robert brought a friend over who played a mean tenor sax for a teenager.  His name was Trini Basulto.  Trini had print shop at Garfield High School and created some business cards for the band on which he printed “Mark & the Escorts.”  The name stuck.  At the time, East L.A. was the home of countless teenage bands, many had names with the leader’s name attached such as, Art & the Niteliters and Ronnie & the Casuals.  Our repertoire by this time included rock & roll, r&b, and British invasion music.  We played at popular venues such as, the Big and Little Union Halls, St. Alphonsus Auditorium, Kennedy Hall, the Alexandria Hotel, and the Montebello Ballroom.

     It was at this point that we came to the attention of East Los Angeles manager/producer, Billy Cardenas.  He was managing many bands at the time including The Blendells, The Premiers, and Cannibal & the Headhunters.  He started booking us into other venues such as, the Belair Rollerdrome in Pico Rivera and Rainbow Gardens in Pomona.  On February 21, 1965, we performed at the Shrine Auditorium with all the top eastside bands at a show called the “West Coast East Side Revue.”  An album of the same name was eventually released on Eddie Davis' Rampart Records containing studio recordings by the participating bands.  By this time we had lost our lead singer and added Richard Magaña on baritone sax and Joe Cabral on Farfisa organ to our lineup.  In June of 1965, Cardenas took us into Stereo Masters studio in Hollywood where we recorded two instrumentals, “Get Your Baby” and “Tuff Stuff.”  "Get Your Baby" was written by two members of The Mixtures, Randy Thomas and Wayne Edwards.  The Mixtures were a multi-racial band, as the name suggests, produced and managed by recording impresario Eddie Davis.  "Get Your Baby" was also recorded during the same era by two of East L.A.'s most popular bands, The Blendells and The Premiers.  I received writers credit for the flip side, "Tuff Stuff."  In October, we returned to the studio and recorded a vocal number entitled “Dance with Me,” with a singer Billy Cardenas brought into the project, and an instrumental called “Silly Putty.”  Strangely enough, nobody remembers who the vocalist was, including Billy.  "Dance with Me" was written and first recorded by another East L.A. band called The Fabulous Desires.  It was written by two of its members, Ricky Sanchez and Benjamin "Spider" Velasquez.  The song was also recorded by The Blendells.  I believe Billy Cardenas had us record it because The Blendells had broken up after recording the song.  Mark & the Escorts continued to perform for about another year, several members came and went, and then we changed our name to the Men from S.O.U.N.D.

     The nucleus of myself on guitar, and by now vocals, Rick Rosas on bass, and Ernie Hernandez on drums, stayed in tact through the mid-seventies.  The Men from S.O.U.N.D., who played the East L.A. circuit through 1968, evolved into “Nineteen Eighty Four” in 1969, playing songs by artists such as, Cream and Buffalo Springfield.  Named after the classic George Orwell novel, we recorded two singles  for Kapp Records that year, “Three’s a Crowd" b/w "Amber Waves" and "No Matter How Long It Takes" b/w "Baba."  "Three's a Crowd" was written by L.T. Josie, who the year before had written the hit song, "Midnight Confessions."  The flip side of "Three's a Crowd" was a song I wrote called "Amber Waves," a psychedelic style song very typical of the era.  I wrote both sides of the second single.  In the early 70’s we added John Valenzuela on guitar and went by the name of “the Mudd Brothers,” which was changed to “Tango” when we recorded an album of my original songs for A&M Records in 1973.

Members of Mark & the Escorts (1963-66)

Members on GNP Crescendo Records 45 rpm singles:
“Get Your Baby” backed with “Tuff Stuff” and “Dance with Me” backed with “Silly Putty":

Mark Guerrero, lead guitar 
Robert Warren, rhythm guitar
Rick Rosas, bass
Ernie Hernandez, drums
Joe Cabral, Farfisa organ
Trini Basulto, tenor sax
Richard Magaña, baritone sax
Lead vocal on “Dance with Me”- unknown,
Background vocals on “Dance with Me”- Mark Guerrero and Richard Magaña

Other members of Mark & the Escorts:
Ricky Almaraz- lead vocals (1964)
Richard Morin- vocals, guitar (1965)


For more info click here to go to the Mark & the Escorts pages
 

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Mark Guerrero
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