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Saturday, July 30, 2011

EASTSIDE LEGENDS - LITTLE JULIAN HERRERA






Before getting into the life and music career of Little Julian Herrera I must make a couple of points. Little Julian Herrera is my favorite singer with the finest voice to come out of the Eastside Sound. There is not much known about his life nor his disapperance after 1962 but he would become the idol of the young Chicano community in Southern California. He would become the first teen sensation of the Eastside preceeding Ritchie Valens.
  I was so intrigued by the music & mystery of Little Julian Herrera that I sent an e-mail to Steve Propes, author, record colector and disc jockey on radio station WPMD. Steve dedicated one of this 45's shows to Little Julian, playing his records & trying to fill in some of the missing pieces of the man's life.
  I also frequented Wenzels Music Town in Downey & owner Tom Wenzel & I would talk about Little Julian & Tom would tell me what he remebered of Little Julian's days on the Dig label. Truly fascinating stuff.

Little Julian was not Latino but Eastern European. According to some sources his given name was Ezekial and that he ran away from home in Massacheusetts at the age of eleven & hitchiked to Los Angeles. He also went by the name Ron Gregory according to a probation officer who had a picture of him.
  Little Julian would settle in Boyle Heights, a suburb of East Los Angeles and adapt the name Herrera from the Mexican-American family who took him in. The name Little Julian came from Don Julian of the Meadowlarks who had a hit with "Heaven & Paradise" at the time
  Little Julian met Johnny Otis  who asked him to perform in his shows at El Monte Legion Stadium where he became a star attraction. In the summer of 1956 Little Julian would record for Otis' newly formed Dig label. The session would produce "Lonely Lonely Nights" and "In Exchange For Your Love'. The group backing Little Julian is probably the Premiers who were also on the Dig label. The record would be a big hit locally but would do little elsewhere.






You may listen to both "Lonely Lonely Nights" and "In Exhange For Your Love" here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdT9EoBAbr8


In the spring of 1957 Otis would get around to releasing a follow-up record "Symbol Of Heaven" and "Here In My Arms"



You May Listen To "Symbol Of Heaven" Here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77jMpkCbdcE




You May Listen To "Here In My Arms" Here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI-WnGVObcg

Shortly afterward, Johnny Otis abandoned his Dig label to pursue opportunities at Capital Records. Little Julian was introduced to the Tigers, a Pomona-based group through the lead singer of the Premiers, Sammy Yates. With Art Laboe as the producer Little Julian Herrera & The Tigers recorded "I Remember Linda" for the Starla label. The flip side was a Little Richard tune "True Fine Mama". "I Remember Linda" became a local hit due to the constant plugging by Art Laboe on his live radio show from Scriverner's Drive-In.
Although Ron Shy claims that he & James Thompson wrote "I Remember Linda" the label credits Egnoian (Art Laboe) and Otis (Johnny Otis) as writers. As the story goes Linda was James Thompson's girlfriend.




You May Listen To Little Julian Herrera & the Tigers "I Remember Linda" Here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcORyFbrA9g




You May Listen To Little Julian Herrera & The Tigers "True Fine Mama" Here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UQAzTjW-A0

Julian would be accused of statutory rape killing record sales and after a stint in jail he would disappear. In 1963, he was rediscovered by Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg who was told that Little Julian was performing in Tijuana. Hugg would release an updated version of "Lonely Lonely Nights" and "I Want To Be With You" on the Essar label. For this release Little Julian was backed by the Illusions, a band from the Bellflower-Long Beach area. Of major interest to record collectors, there are two markedly different takes of "Lonely Lonely Nights" issued on the Essar label with identical release numbers for which there is no known explanation.




You May Listen To Little Julian Herrera "Lonely Lonely Nights" (Essar) Here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVnLu6f0Z0Y



You May Listen To Little Julian Herrera "I Want To Be With You" Here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N--3C4O4A5g


You will find both takes of Little Julian Herrera & The Illusions on the CD "The Illusions - Surfin & Stompin The Complete Story" released on the Gee-Dee label.







Little Julian's last release would be "Your Careless Love" and "You Will Cry" released on the Emmo label. Another Eastside Classic this record is extremely hard to find.





You May Listen To Little Julian Herrera "Your Careless Love" Here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M269snAlitQ&feature=g-all&context=G25af30fFAAAAAAAAOAA







You May Listen To Little Julian Herrera "You Will Cry" Here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFK4CpxRlF4



Little Julian would disappear into obscurity again. According to Huggy Boy's last interview, Little Julian's body was found in Elysian Park. RIP Little Julian.

With just five singles to his musical discography, Little Julian Herrera remains a mystery but a true Eastside Legend.

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED!!!

Soley for historical, educational & listening pleasure.

2 comments:

  1. I would like to say a little comment.
    Lil Julian Herrera lived in the One Ways, in
    Norwalk Ca. In the late fifties. I have a sister
    and a high school friend that was going with Lil Julian, difference times acourse. I had went to his house in the One Ways of Norwalk, he did play the piano and sang for us. My friend had told me the last time she saw him, was when she was painting a room at her house and she said that he came to her house, which it was a couple of blocks from her, and that was the last time she had heard from him.
    I still play his records today.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Little Julian Herrera was a Hungarian refugee
    raised by the Herrera family in Los Angeles.
    Was a local hit sensation and sang with the Twiliters, Tigers, Romancers, Premiers per
    Johnny Otis on KLON radio w/Steve Propes early 80's.

    ReplyDelete