Lots of musicians compare their careers to roller-coaster rides, but Los Lonely Boys have had so many close-your-eyes-and-hang-on moments in the 14 years since they recorded their self-titled debut, they should buy an amusement park.
The story of how the Garza brothers – vocalist/guitarist Henry, bassist/vocalist Jojo, and drummer/ vocalist Ringo – rode their bluesy “Texican rock” sound from San Angelo, Texas, to worldwide fame is one of rock’s great Cinderella tales. But the story of how they’ve persevered in the face of subsequent challenges is just as compelling. In 2013, they canceled 43 shows and paused work on their last album, Revelation, after Henry was seriously hurt when he fell from a stage in Los Angeles. A couple of years previously, vocal cord nodules forced Jojo to stop singing for months. And in 2015, their mother passed away.
Their strong brotherly bond helped them through those rough spots – just as it did when they made the hard decision to step out from under their father’s musical leadership and form their own band after performing with him since childhood. The desire to follow their musical muse still drives them today, according to Jojo.
“There is no rest for those who are chosen to be musicians,” he says. “Ideas for songs are constant. We are being charged with what will be spread through our songs. We want to make music that brings people together.” That’s why they titled their 2014 release Revelation. Its songs were meant to serve as mirrors of sorts, reflecting aspects of our lives in ways that reveal new insights. “As musicians and artists,” Jojo says, “we’re here to connect with people.”
Henry’s accident caused all three brothers to re-examine not only how they make music, but how they conduct their lives. “The whole experience was a wake-up call,” Jojo admits. “It reminded us of what’s really important.” And what’s important is family. And music. For this trio, the two are inseparable. In fact, the sons of Enrique “Ringo” Garza, Sr. are a second-generation sibling band; their dad and his brothers played conjunto as the Falcones before the elder Garza formed a band with his sons.
They were still teens when he moved them to Nashville, hoping to hit career paydirt. But their big break came after they returned to Texas and began playing Austin clubs in the early 2000s. One day, Willie Nelson’s nephew heard some demos. Next thing they knew, Willie showed up at a gig. Then he showcased them at Farm Aid, fronted recording time at his famed Pedernales Studio and even guested on their album.
Released in 2003 on startup label Or Records, Los Lonely Boys got picked up by Epic and re-released. Propelled by its No. 1 single, “Heaven,” it sold over 2 million copies, spending 76 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 album chart and earning them a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group.
Jojo believes that life’s upheavals have tightened their bond even more. “We stick together,” he adds, “and we’re trying to pass on that feeling of brotherhood, of familia, in all the music we make.”
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