Editor’s Note: Every once in a lifetime someone very special enters your life and influences the person you become. Al Hurricane, Sr. was one of those people. Hurricane died at the age of 81 last Sunday, entertaining thousands of fans for several decades. A gentleman with a voice that warmed your heart, who transmitted happiness when he sang, will forever be remembered by many New Mexican and world fans. At the age of 19, I saw a live performance by Hurricane at the GAO in Denver and his music is now eternal. Thank you Sanchez Family for sharing this humble and talented man with us.
At the age of 19 I moved to Denver after completing a year of college in Albuquerque. Metro State was my next stop. Denver was my home away from home and my brother Orlando was a newly arrived thirty-something from California making Denver his home. My brother has a connection to music like no other fan. Whether that music be rock or New Mexican music, my brother appreciates all music. When he can’t listen to music, he sings, or taps his foot to a beat only heard by him (like at the dinner table).
In our northern New Mexico home and some decades ago, the big name in that region was Al Hurricane. Hurricane (Al Sanchez) and his family of talented musicians made the New Mexico sound. That sound was a combination of Mexican music, oftentimes incorporating the sound of rock and blues made for a unique sound so familiar to those who grew up there. In 1972 Hurricane headlined at the GAO, the Good American Organization, owned by KBNO’s Paco Sanchez. Hurricane was the pride of New Mexico playing a diversity of classic rock like “La Bamba,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Kansas City” and good old New Mexican music. His brothers Tiny Morrie (of “Lonely Letters/Cartas Tristes” fame) and Baby Gaby accompanied him. Also on stage was Gloria Pohl who later married Tiny Morrie. Their talented offspring is today known as Sparx (daughters) along with their brother, well known New Mexico musician, Lorenzo Antonio. At that historic GAO building, also on stage was Al Hurricane, Jr, making his debut at age 12.
This past weekend at the Adams County Fairgrounds, 1,000 of Hurricane’s closest friends came to say good-bye. Al Hurricane, Sr. was supposed to play his last professional song on stage. Many more of his closest friends were left with no possibility of a ticket buy. To accomodate those friends, an encore performance is scheduled sometime before year’s end.
Looking back at myself at the age of 19, and previously growing up in New Mexico meant you were a different sort of fan. One that could enjoy the likes of the Beatles, Willie Nelson, the Rolling Stones, Al Hurricane, Dolly Parton, Tiny Morrie, the Temptations, Elvis and did I mention Al Hurricane?
On that special night in 1972, I recall my brother purchasing an album and asked me to get it autographed by the soul family of New Mexico music. The beautiful Sanchez family was accommodating and I will never forget the joy they brought to me and a packed house--much like Saturday night.
Al Hurricane, Sr. has played with the likes of Fats Domino, jammed with Chubby Checkers and James Brown and has filled the hearts of many a lonely soul with his signature song, “Sentimento.” He has played every hall between Albuquerque and Cheyenne and many others east to west. This almost 80-year old musician leaves a lasting impression on that young girl who saw him for the first time at the age of 19.
As he now battles prostate cancer, Al Hurricane, “Quiero Que Sepas”, that your fan base (your familia) prays for your well being and thanks you for years of good old heartfelt New Mexican Music.
Vaya con Dios.