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Thursday, May 17, 2012


                                    THE BLENDELLS

Band Members:

Mike Rincon (bass)
Ronnie Chipes (drums)
Rudy Valona (lead guitar)
Don Cardenas (sax)
Tommy Esparza (rhythm guitar)
Sal Murillo (Vocals)

The Blendells were one of three East L.A. bands to have a national hit, The other two being the Premiers and Cannibal & The Headhunters.

In 1962, Mike Rincon, leader of The Blendells was inspired by rhythm & blues & decided to form his own groups. Mike Rincon & Ronnie Chipes attended Cathedral High School in Lincoln Heights, California. Rudy Valona & Tommy Esparza attended Garfield High School. Sax player Don Cardenas and Sal Murrillo of the vocal duo Sal & Marge were added.

The group's original name was The Blenders but was soon changed to The Blendells as an homage to the 1950's vocal group, The Dells. The group got their start playing the Big Union in East Los Angeles. Rudy was able to get Billy Cardenas to come and hear the band and become their manager. Billy got the group gigs playing the East L.A circuit including The Paramount Ballroom.

Billy took the Blendells to Eddie Davis who had seen The Blendells perform an obscure Stevie Wonder song called "La La La La La" at a show in La Puente, CA. The group was taken to Stereo Masters on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Eddie wanted the song to have that "live" feel so he brought in the all-girl car club the Chevelles to add background noise.

"La La La La La" and "Huggies Bunnies" were released on Rampart Records (Ramaprt 641) in 1964.

Eddie Davis took the recordings to Reprise Records for further promotion and distribution. Reprise released the record (Reprise 0291) in 1964.

You May Listen To The Blendells "La La La La La" Here:

You May Listen To The Blendells "Huggies Bunnies" Here:

"La La La La La" would peak at number 62 on the Billboard charts in 1964.

The Blendells would appear on national televison show "Hullabaloo" and "9th Street West"

Their record would be popular worldwide as witnessed by this French single.

Sal Murillo's mother would enter into a contract dispute with the label which led Eddie Davis to ask Sal to leave the band. The Blendells without their lead singer, Sal would go on tour with many big name acts such as Roy Orison, The Dave Clark 5, The Shirelles and Chuck Berry.

The Blendells would leave Eddie Davis and move on to Reprise Records & go back into the studio for a follow-up record. "Dance With Me" and "Get Your Baby" were released in 1965 (Reprise 0340).
Ralph Ventura is the singer on "Dance With Me" and though a track had been recorded The Romancers band went over it.

You May Listen To The Blendells "Dance With Me" Here:

The lead vocalist on "Dance With Me" was Ralph Ventura, trumpet player for The Romancers.

During one of their tours, Rudy & Tommy were let go after some inter-band member disputes and were replaced by Bob Hernandez of The Romancers and Johnny Diaz of The Rhythm Playboys. There were times when Andy Tasso of The Romancers would sit it.

Rudy Valona, Tommy Esparza and Sal Murillo would go on to form their own group called, The Vaqueros.
The Vaqueros first single was "Vaquero Beat" and "Oh So Tenderly"

You May Listen To The Vaqueros "Vaquero Beat" Here:

The Vaqueros would record a second single "Hey Girl" and "Simple Minded Me"

As with many other Eastside bands, The Viet Nam War  would effectively put an end to The Blendells and The Vaqueros as their members were drafted.

On December 26, 2003, Rudy Valona of The Blendells passed away.



Soley for historical and educational purposes and for listening pleasure.

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