Latin Rock Timbalero Rudy Regalado Dies at 67

Timbalero, band leader and composer (Hector) Rudy Regalado passed away on November 4th, 2010, in Las Vegas, Nevada at the age of 67. Born in Venezuela, Regalado was one of the top Latin Rock timbaleros based in East Los Angeles, California area during the 1970s. Regalado played with the Latin Rock band El Chicano which surfaced during the Santana and Malo Latin Rock era.

El Chicano recorded 7 albums for MCA and had a series of hits, including the song“Tell Her She’s Lovely”, included in their 1973 self-titled LP, El Chicano, that also went Gold for the group. El Chicano also composed the theme song for the 1970s television series “Baretta.”

El Chicano included Bobby Espinosa on Hammond B3 organ, Freddie Sanchez on bass, Mickey Lespron on guitar, and the fiery rhythm foundation of Andre Baeza on congas, Rudy Regalado on timbales, and John De Luna on drums. Freddie Sanchez and Bobby Espinosa rejoined forces in the 1990s to work on new music, including two other original members, Rudy Regalado and Jerry Salas. El Chicano continues to be active with a combination of original and new members.

Rudy Regalado recorded five albums with El Chicano in the 1970s. In addition, he participated in a variety of sessions with the Zawinul Syndicate, Quincy Jones, Alphonse Mouzon, Caravana Cubana, and many others.

After spending 12 years with El Chicano, Rudy Regalado formed his own All-Star Band in 1983. Initially known as Todos Estrellas, Rudy’s Orchestral Dream Team soon changed its name to Chevere.

As part of an El Chicano reunion in 2009, Rudy Regalado performed in front of over a 100,000 screaming fans at the 40th anniversary of Woodstock in San Francisco.

I saw Regalado in action. He was known for his fiery timbales style. One of the highlights of his life was a timbales duel with timbales legend, the King of the timbales, the late Tito Puente.

Author: Les Moncada

Les Moncada is a Latin Jazz orchestra leader and conguero for over 40 years. He was born in Oakland, California and currently resides in Sacramento, California.

Les Moncada is a student of conga and batá master Francisco Aguabella, a friend of the late promoter Bill Graham, vibraphonist Cal Tjader, Latin Jazz band leader Pete Escovedo, conguero Mongo Santamaria and many, many more.

He has been writing for many years for World Music Central.

Les has several Facebook sites: Timbales and Congas Bongo Bata & bells; Conguero, Professional Conguero & their Instrument; Bongocero, Professional Bongocero their Instrument; Alambres Dulces, Tres, Cuatro & Laud


14 thoughts on “Latin Rock Timbalero Rudy Regalado Dies at 67”

  1. I had the pleasure of playing with the legendary band El Chicano during the band’s glorious days where we travel the U.S.A. playing huge stadiums touring next to Three Dog Night, Rod Stewart and Faces, BB King just to name a few. We did national TV shows including Dick Clark’s American Band Stand, Mike Douglas Show and much more. The El Chicano rhythm section at the time was: Rudy Regalado on trap drums; me, Mike Rojas on timbales; Andre Baeza on congas, Bobby Espinosa keyboards, Freddie Sanchez bass, Mickey Lespron guitar.

    I am one of the pioneers of Latin rock timbaleros/drummers during the Santana era whom later on he called me to replace Chepito Areas, which I refused because he wouldn’t give me a contract, since I had a great gig already. Also played with The Stones 5 concerts at The La Forum in 1975.

    I’m an accomplished salsa timbalero who has recorded with worldwide renowned sonero Azuquita whom we recorded Azuquita In Hollywood with the Eddie Palmieri band. As a trap drummer I have backed the best Latin American top singers such as Juan Gabriel, Jose Jose, Camilo Sesto and more same on the salsa seem too many to name here. Great to know about you Les Moncada, please see my Facebook face page have two…almost forgot am the first guy who incorporated a vallenato in salsa in my 9 time pre-nominated CD Sopa De Ritmo…and of course I also hosted Adelante Hispanos! With Mike Rojas prime time on TV and radio. As a producer I was the talent coordinator for Miller’s Maquina Musical in 18 cities, the largest series of free concerts in the U.S.A. I also created Queremos Salsa! for Anheuser Buch with the biggest names on that genre of music and Sabor a Centroamérica! For R.J Reynolds.

    Is good that top writers like you know more about talented Latinos who started based in L.A.

    Should you need to solicit my music etc, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Bless you always Les Moncada!

    Mike Rojas

  2. I’ve known Rudy my whole life. He was a wonderful man and will be missed. My grandfather Oscar Meza played with since the 70,s.

  3. Rudy was a man who I can say had a very beautiful spirit. He always had a smile and his playing was impeccable. I had the privilege to play bass with this man and you always had to bring your “a” game. Que “chevere” fue conocerte!, which means it was really great to know you . There must be a tremenda rumba in the sky now that you are there. We will miss you and your playing. God bless you and your family

    Pete Varela


  5. I had the privelage of working with this wonderful talent several times especially last April 2010 at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino with the Gary Anderson Big Band (Emmy Awarded) to do INOLVIDABLE (and others) together. Rudy…I will miss you and I will keep your beautiful wife and family always in my prayers.
    Sinceramente con carino..

  6. I didn’t know Rudy all that well on a personal level, but I remember his electric smile and his incredible energy. I first met Rudy at a fund-raiser in Van Nuys. His band, Chevere, performed and I was in charge of the sound system. I was called at the very last minute and scraped-up whatever equipment I had to put a system together. Other professional musicians might have looked at my rig and been critical or concerned. If he was, he didn’t show it. He shook my hand, told me what instruments needed to be miked, who needed a vocal mic, and away we went. When his performance was over, he personally came over to me to thank me for the job I had done. Apparently they had performed earlier in the day at Raging Waters and the sound system was terrible.

    The next time I worked with Rudy was at a 4th of July concert at Whittier Narrows, only this time, Bobby Espinoza hired me at the last minute as a “one day” lead vocalist for El Chicano. I had no rehearsal with the full band, so I was a complete surprise and unknown to most of the band members. Not being used to the “front man” role, I took my Bongos on a stand to have something in front of me to give my hands something to do. Rudy walked up on stage, looked at me and asked, “So what are you doing”? I explained the reason for the Bongos and assured him I wouldn’t really be playing them. He smiled and said, “Okay. Let’s go!”

    Rudy and Chevere also performed at my niece’s wedding reception, which gave me another opportunity to say ‘hello’. They were great. I would occasionally see Rudy at the NAMM show in Anaheim and he seemed to always remember me and was always friendly and gracious. Rudy: You will be missed. Please say hello to Bobby Espinoza for me and save me a spot as your sound man or substitute lead singer when I join you guys!

  7. a few words about my friend rudy, I worked with rudy for about 2 years before I started Son Mayor
    one time we had a rehearsal at stein on vine as I arrived I noticed Rudy sitting inside one of those old public phones sitting there with a small plastic tub filled with quarters calling his musicians, I asked him “why don’t you call from home” he told me “man! my wife doesn’t let me use the phone to call my musicians, the phone bill is too expensive” that was rudy, he loved music so much, and
    found a way to play music no matter what. He was a sweet guy, I have nothing but beautiful memories of him. Que Dios te tenga en la Gloria Rudy, Me saludas a Machito!!!!!

  8. To say Rudy was special is an understatement. He was a consummate professional. He was insanely talented but equally as humble. He was one of the kindest people I know. I was the girl singer in El Chicano during the 70’s, right after Cruz Baca. Rudy was playing timbales then, and taught me a lot about latin rhythms. He would give me a pair of claves, a, specific rhythm to play, and turn me loose. I have great “time” (especially for a singer) because of him. That female voice you hear on “Tell Her She’s Lovely” is mine. I’ve seen and heard him over the years, with his other groups and he only got better with time. Those early days, though, were special, at least for me.
    He is missed but will live in our hearts forever. Gloria, I send you a big hug.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *