Los Lobos

Los Lobos (, Spanish for "the Wolves") are an American rock band from East Los Angeles, California, United States. Their music is influenced by rock and roll, Tex-Mex, country, zydeco, folk, R&B, blues, brown-eyed soul, and traditional music such as cumbia, boleros and norteños. The band gained international stardom in 1987, when their cover version of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba" topped the charts in the U.S., the UK and several other countries. In 2015, they were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2018, they were inducted into Austin City Limits Hall of Fame.


1973–79: Formation and early releases

Vocalist and guitarist David Hidalgo and drummer Louie Pérez met at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, California, and bonded over their mutual affinity for obscure musical acts such as Fairport Convention, Randy Newman and Ry Cooder. Pérez recalls, "We’re looking at each other, 'You like this stuff? I thought I was the only weird one.' So I went over to his house one day for about a year, which we spent listening to records, playing guitars, and starting to write songs." The two borrowed reel-to-reel recorders from a friend and created multitrack recordings of music spanning from parody songs to free-form jazz. They later enlisted fellow students Frank Gonzalez, Cesar Rosas and Conrad Lozano to complete the group's lineup, in 1973. Their first album, Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles, was recorded at two studios in Hollywood in 1977 over a period of about four months. At that time, they all had regular jobs, and it was hard to get together for the sessions. To accommodate that situation, their producer Louis Torres would call the engineer, Mark Fleisher, who owned and operated a high-speed tape duplicating studio in Hollywood, to find a studio when he knew all the band members could get off work that night. Most of the songs were recorded at a studio on Melrose Avenue, located next to the Paramount studios at the time, and a low-priced studio on Sunset Boulevard.

The band members were unsatisfied with playing only American Top 40 songs and began experimenting with the traditional Mexican music they listened to as children. This style of music received a positive reaction from audiences, leading the band to switch genres, performing at hundreds of weddings and dances between 1974 and 1980. However, Los Lobos took notice of the popular groups on the Hollywood music scene and added influences of rock to its sound.

Originally, they called themselves Los Lobos del Este (de Los Angeles) ("The Wolves of the East [of Los Angeles)]"), which was a play on the name of the norteño band Los Tigres del Norte; also, there was another conjunto band at the time named "Los Lobos Del Norte", who had released several albums already, and in fact Los Lobos del Este were from east L.A. The name was quickly shortened to Los Lobos.

1980–88: How Will the Wolf Survive? and commercial success

The band's first noteworthy public appearance occurred in 1980 at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, when they were hired by David Ferguson and CD Presents to open for Public Image Ltd. In 1983, the band released an extended play entitled ...And a Time to Dance, which was well received by critics but sold only about 50,000 copies. However, the sales of the EP earned the group enough money to purchase a Dodge van, enabling the band to tour throughout the United States for the first time. Los Lobos returned to the studio in the summer of 1984 to record its first major-label album, How Will the Wolf Survive?, in 1984. The album's title and the title song were inspired by a National Geographic article entitled "Where Can the Wolf Survive", which the band members related to their own struggle to gain success in the United States while maintaining their Mexican roots.

The film Colors includes "One Time, One Night" in the opening credits, although the song was not included on the soundtrack album. In 1986, members of Los Lobos appeared alongside Tomata du Plenty in the punk rock musical Population: 1. In 1987, they released a second album, By the Light of the Moon. In the same year, they recorded some Ritchie Valens covers for the soundtrack of the film La Bamba, including the title track, which became a number one single for the band. In 1988 they followed with another album, La pistola y el corazón, featuring original and traditional Mexican songs.

1988–94: The Neighborhood and Kiko

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the band toured extensively throughout the world, opening for such acts as Bob Dylan, U2 and the Grateful Dead.

Los Lobos returned with The Neighborhood in 1990, and the more experimental Kiko (produced by Mitchell Froom) in 1992. In 1991, the band contributed a lively cover of "Bertha", a song which they often performed live, to the Grateful Dead tribute–rain forest benefit album Deadicated. In 1994 they also contributed a track, "Down Where the Drunkards Roll", to the Richard Thompson tribute album Beat the Retreat.

On the band's twentieth anniversary they released a two-CD collection of singles, outtakes, live recordings and hits, entitled Just Another Band from East L.A.

1995–98: Papa's Dream and Colossal Head

In 1995, Los Lobos released the prestigious and bestselling record Papa's Dream on Music for Little People Records along with veteran guitarist and singer Lalo Guerrero. The band also scored the film Desperado. The album track "Mariachi Suite" won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and stands as their last Grammy Award to date (the other two Grammy Awards were in the category of Best Mexican-American Performance in 1983 and 1989 for the song "Anselma" and the album La Pistola y el Corazón).

In 1996, they released Colossal Head. In spite of the fact that the album was critically acclaimed, Warner Brothers decided to drop the band from their roster. Los Lobos spent the next few years on side projects. The band contributed along with Money Mark to the AIDS benefit album Silencio=Muerte: Red Hot + Latin, produced by the Red Hot Organization, on which they performed "Pepe and Irene."

1999–2006: Mammoth Records, subsequent releases

Los Lobos signed to Mammoth Records and released This Time in 1999. Mammoth also reissued 1977's Del Este de Los Angeles. In 2000, Rhino/Warner Archives released the boxed set Cancionero: Mas y Mas.

In 2001, Los Lobos was awarded the El Premio Billboard Award.

The band released their Mammoth Records debut, Good Morning Aztlan in 2002. They released The Ride in 2004. The Ride featured Tom Waits, Mavis Staples, Bobby Womack, Elvis Costello and others covering Los Lobos music along with the band.

Los Lobos released its first full-length live-show DVD Live at the Fillmore in 2004. The DVD captures the band's act over a two-day period in July at the famed San Francisco venue.

In September 2006, Los Lobos released The Town and the City (Mammoth Records) to much critical acclaim. The album's lyrics deal with Louis Perez's childhood in East Los Angeles, while the music provides complex and original soundscapes reminiscent of their previous release Kiko. Cartoonist Jaime Hernandez did the artwork for the album. The album is told in the first person, with each song serving as an episodic step.

2007–present: Tin Can Trust

In 2007, Los Lobos performed a cover of Bob Dylan's "Billy 1" (from Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid) for the soundtrack to Todd Haynes's film I'm Not There. Also in 2007, they participated in Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Vanguard), contributing their version of Domino's "The Fat Man."

In 2009, the group under contract to Disney Music released an album of Disney covers, Los Lobos Goes Disney (Disney Sound/Walt Disney Records) and participated in a tribute album to the late Doug Sahm, Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm (Vanguard).

In 2010, Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo were featured artists in the Experience Hendrix Tour. On August 3, 2010, the group released their first album of new material in 4 years, entitled Tin Can Trust, through Shout! Factory, which features two Spanish-language tracks.

In 2011, the group was awarded the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2013, the group toured Europe supporting Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

On October 9, 2015, Los Lobos was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time.

In 2017, Los Lobos appeared in the multi award-winning documentary film The American Epic Sessions directed by Bernard MacMahon, where they recorded, “El Cascabel”, live direct-to-disc on the first electrical sound recording system from the 1920s. During their session, the belt holding the 100Ib weight that powered the 1924 cutting lathe broke and Jack White had to rush to an upholstery shop to repair it.

Los Lobos was inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame in 2018.

On October 4, 2019, Los Lobos released "Llego Navidad", an album of Christmas music from Central America and South America with Mexican folk songs, as well as an original song by Hidalgo and Perez.

On January 1, 2020, Los Lobos performed as the finale at the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.


  • David Hidalgo – vocals, guitar, accordion, fiddle, requinto jarocho (1973–present)
  • Louie Pérez – drums, guitar, jarana huasteca, vocals (1973–present)
  • Cesar Rosas – vocals, guitar, bajo sexto (1973–present)
  • Conrad Lozano – bass, guitarron, vocals (1974–present)
  • Steve Berlin – keyboards, woodwinds (1984–present)

    Former members

  • Francisco "Frank" González – vocals, mandolin, arpa jarocha (1973–1976)
  • Richard Escalante – bass, vocals (1973–1974)

    Touring musicians

  • Victor Bisetti – drums, percussion (1990–2003)
  • Cougar Estrada – drums, percussion (2003–2011)
  • Enrique "Bugs" González – drums, percussion (2012–present)



  • Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles (Just another band from East L.A.), 1978
  • How Will the Wolf Survive?, 1984
  • By the Light of the Moon, 1987
  • La Pistola y el Corazón, 1988
  • The Neighborhood, 1990
  • Kiko, 1992
  • Papa's Dream, 1995
  • Colossal Head, 1996
  • This Time, 1999
  • Good Morning Aztlán, 2002
  • The Ride, 2004
  • The Town and the City, 2006
  • Los Lobos Goes Disney, 2009
  • Tin Can Trust, 2010
  • Gates of Gold, 2015
  • Llego Navidad, 2019

    Live albums

  • Live at the Fillmore, 2005
  • Acoustic en Vivo, 2005
  • Kiko Live, 2012 (Recorded February 24, 2006 at House of Blues, San Diego)
  • Disconnected in New York City, 2013


  • Just Another Band from East L.A. – A Collection, 1993
  • El Cancionero Mas y Mas, 2000 (boxed set)
  • Wolf Tracks: The Best of Los Lobos, 2006

    Extended plays

  • ...And a Time to Dance, 1983
  • Ride This – The Covers EP, 2004

    Soundtrack, compilation, and guest appearances

  • Si Se Puede!, Various Artists, 1977 (Pan American Ent.) – backing band on all tracks
  • Eating Raoul: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1982 (Varèse Sarabande) – "Diablo Con Vestido" and "How Much Can I Do"
  • L.A. Rockabilly, 1982 (Rhino Records) – "We're Gonna Rock"
  • Graceland, Paul Simon, 1986 (Warner Bros.) – "All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints"
  • A Fine Mess: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1986 (Motown) – I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday
  • La Bamba: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1987 (Slash/Warner Bros.) – "La Bamba", "Come On, Let's Go" and six others
  • Colors, 1988 (Orion Pictures) – "One Time, One Night" (not on soundtrack album)
  • Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films, 1988 (A&M Records) – "I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)"
  • Bull Durham: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1988 (Capitol) – "I Got Loaded"
  • Hey Good Lookin (video), Buckwheat Zydeco, 1990 – with David Hidalgo and Dwight Yoakam
  • Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead, 1991 (Arista) – "Bertha"
  • The Mambo Kings: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1992 (Elektra) – "Beautiful Maria of My Soul''
  • In The Spotlight: A Beatles Songbook, 1993 (Lonesome Pine/PBS TV special) – "Tomorrow Never Knows"
  • Untamed Heart, 1993 (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) – "Try Me" (not on soundtrack album)
  • Beat the Retreat – Songs by Richard Thompson, 1994 (Capitol) – "Down Where the Drunkards Roll"
  • I Only Wrote this Song for You: A Tribute to Johnny Thunders, 1994 (Essential) – "Alone in a Crowd"
  • Grammy's Greatest Moments Volume III, 1994 – live performance of "La Bamba" from the 1988 Grammy Awards
  • Desperado: The Soundtrack, 1995 (Epic Soundtrax) – primary score composer and performer
  • The Last Supper, 1995 Columbia Pictures – "Wicked Rain" (not on soundtrack album)
  • Till the Night is Gone: A Tribute to Doc Pomus, 1995 (Forward) – "Lonely Avenue"
  • Not Fade Away (Remembering Buddy Holly), 1996 (MCA) – "Midnight Shift"
  • The End of Violence: Songs from the Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1997 (Outpost Recordings) – "Me Estas Matando"
  • Silencio=Muerte: Red Hot + Latin, 1998 (H.O.L.A Records) – "Pepe and Irene"
  • The Sopranos: Music from the HBO Original Series, 1999 (Playtone, Columbia, Sony Music Soundtrax) – "Viking"
  • Live at the World Café - Volume 9, 1999 (World Cafe) – "This Time"
  • Spy Kids: Music from the Dimension Motion Picture, 2001 (Chapter III Records) – "Spy Wedding" and "Oye Como Spy"
  • Look at All the Love We Found: A Tribute to Sublime, 2005 (Cornerstone RAS) – "Pawn Shop"
  • Nacho Libre: Music from the Motion Picture, 2006 (Lakeshore Records) – "Saint Behind the Glass"
  • Handy Manny, 2006 (Buena Vista Television, Disney–ABC Domestic Television television series) – "Handy Manny Theme Song"
  • I'm Not There: Original Soundtrack, 2007 (Sony Music Soundtrax, Columbia) – "Billy 1"
  • Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino, 2007 (Vanguard) – "The Fat Man"
  • Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm, 2009 (Vanguard) – "It Didn't Even Bring Me Down"
  • Man of Somebody's Dreams: A Tribute to Chris Gaffney, 2010 (Yep Roc Records) – "A Man of Somebody's Dreams"
  • El Infierno: Soundtrack, 2010 (Bandidos Films) – "Mexico Americano", "Serenato Norteña" and "Prenda del Alma"
  • Rango: Music from the Motion Picture, 2011 (Anti-) – "El Canelo", "Walk Don't Rango" and "Rango Theme Song"
  • Use Me, David Bromberg, 2011 (Appleseed) – "The Long Goodbye"
  • Music from The American Epic Sessions: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 2017 (Lo-Max, Columbia, Third Man) – "El Cascabel"


  • Live at the Fillmore, 2004
  • Kiko Live, 2012 (Recorded February 24, 2006 at House of Blues, San Diego)


    Featured singles