War Bassist Remembers East L.A. Music Legend Bobby Espinosa of El Chicano

Bobby Espinosa played on the hits "Viva Tirado" and "Tell Her She's Lovely"
Bobby Espinosa played on the hits "Viva Tirado" and "Tell Her She's Lovely"

The music community of East Los Angeles lost one of their pioneering legends when El Chicano cofounder Bobby Espinosa passed away Saturday. The keyboardist died at the age of 60 due to health problems not disclosed to the public. Espinosa lent his Hammond B3 organ to such notable recordings as the genre-bending "Viva Tirado," which became a national hit in 1970, reaching No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100.  

Francisco "Pancho" Tomaselli, bass player for the groundbreaking funk band War that formed in Long Beach in 1969, shared the stage many times with Espinosa. "The very first time I played 'Viva Tirado' was with Bobby," Tomaselli says. "It was a terrible loss for the Chicano community. He was a sweet person and he was a good person. Bobby was always ready to jam and get behind the keys and do it." 

The mellow bass groove of "Viva Tirado" melded with Espinosa's distinctive keys to create a new Latin rock/jazz fusion that redefined the sonic landscapes of the generation the band took its name from. "[Espinosa] and Lonnie Jordan [co-founder and current lead singer of War] were very influential B3 players," Tomaselli says.

He adds, on behalf of himself and band mates: "We will miss him greatly. Espinosa is in a better place now, probably jamming with Jimi Hendrix."

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