Al Hurricane Sr., the “Godfather of New Mexico music,” dies at age 81

Oct 23, 2017

Al Hurricane 1936-2017
Credit Hurricane Records

Lovers of the New Mexico sound are saddened to hear of the passing Sunday of Al Hurricane at age 81. His death was reported on the official fan Facebook page.  Various reports describe a battle with prostate cancer.  Hurricane performed a “farewell tour” in 2015.

Born Alberto Nelson Sanchez in Dixon, N.M., Al Hurricane went on to create, develop, record and promote a distinct blend of Norteño, country and rock music.  Early in his career, he performed alongside Fats Domino, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Clanton, and Chubby Checker.  Sanchez was part of a huge musical family.  Several of his children are musicians.  His siblings include Baby Gaby and Tiny Morrie.

The Albuquerque Journal writes: “In the early ’60s, he took traditional Mexican folk music, electrified it, added a smidgen of rock ‘n’ roll and created a unique style that remains popular. His early ’60s version of ‘La Bamba’ still kicks better than other versions of that hit tune.”

In 2003, then-Congresswoman Heather Wilson entered the story of his nickname into the Congressional Record: “his mother gave him his famous nickname because he was like a little ``Hurricane,'' always knocking things over at the dinner table and running through objects in his path.”

His moniker was clearly a metaphor for his determination in the music business.  Hurricane’s trademark eye patch was the result of an auto accident in 1969.  He was on his way to a concert in Denver.  Rumor has it he played the show anyway.

Sunday’s KUVO’s “Cancion Mexicana” program (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) will present a tribute to al Hurricane, “The Godfather of New Mexico music.”

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