Thursday 17 January 2019

'Godfather of New Mexico music' Al Hurricane dies at 81

Al Hurricane developed a distinct sound bridging New Mexico's unique Hispanic traditions with country and rock
Al Hurricane developed a distinct sound bridging New Mexico's unique Hispanic traditions with country and rock

Al Hurricane, known as the "Godfather of New Mexico music" for developing a distinct sound bridging the state's unique Hispanic traditions with country and rock, has died at the age of 81.

His son, Al Hurricane Junior, told the Associated Press that his father died from complications related to a long battle against prostate cancer. Two of his daughters were at his side.

Mr Hurricane Jr said his father had already said his goodbyes to his friends, fans and his children. "He didn't want people crying when it was his time to go," his son said.

Hurricane's death came two years after he went on a farewell tour following his announcement that he had Stage 4 prostate cancer and kept performing despite chemotherapy treatment.

Born Alberto Nelson Sanchez on July 10 1936 in the tiny village of Dixon, New Mexico, he was raised for a time in Ojo Sarco before moving to Arizona and later Albuquerque. He learned to play the guitar thanks to his mother and his father, a miner.

Hurricane began his professional music career by singing in Albuquerque Old Town restaurants before releasing his first songs, Lobo and Racer under the band Al Hurricane & the Night Rockers in 1962.

He released his first album, Mi Saxophone, in 1967. The album contained his signature song Sentimiento, a ballad he wrote for his first wife and mother of his four children. Years later, a young Tejano singer named Selena would hear the song and record her own version of it.

In 1969, while on a trip to Colorado, a car carrying Hurricane and five band members skidded on an icy bridge and overturned five times. A piece of glass struck Hurricane's right eye, causing him to lose it. He was to wear an eye patch for the rest of his life, and it would become part of his unique look.

Other popular songs he recorded were South Bend/Burrito and Mexican Cat/Pedro's Girlfriend. The songs blended traditional New Mexico corridos, Tejano, rock, folk, and country. Often he sang them in both Spanish and English.

He went on to record more than 30 albums and received a number of awards while travelling internationally.

Following the 1980 Santa Fe prison riot - one of the most violent prison riots in US history - Hurricane released the song (El Corrido De) La Prison De Santa Fe, which was a narrative about the conditions that led to the uprising. Hurricane would later say the song did not seek to place blame for the violence but to tell a story of the riot that left 33 dead and 200 injured.

In his later years, Hurricane would campaign on behalf of former US Representative Heather Wilson and current New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, both Republicans.


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