KDCE Radio’s Featured Artist of the Month
This month’s featured artist is Al Hurricane aka the GODFATHER of Northern New Mexico Music. Each month KDCE Radio will feature an artist from the local area that has contributed to making New Mexico music what it is today. Artists like Al make a difference in keeping New Mexico as we know it, New Mexico.
Al Hurricane was born on July 10, 1936 in Dixon, New Mexico. His birth name is Alberto Nelson Sanchez. Hurricane was a nickname given to him by his mother because he was like a little Hurricane, always knocking things over at the dinner table and objects in his path. His father’s name is Jose Margarito Sanchez who died in 1979, and his mother’s name is Bennie L. Sanchez and is currently living in Albuquerque, NM.
Hurricane grew up in different parts of New Mexico and Arizona. He’s lived in Ojo Sarco, NM, where his father was from, Bayard, NM, Jerome, AZ, and finally moved and settled to Albuquerque in 1947.
Hurricane started singing at an early age, approximately 3 years old, and started playing the guitar at 5 years old. His Mom showed him how to play a song on one string of the guitar. When his Dad came home, Hurricane showed him what he had learned and his Dad said, “very good mi hito, now let me show you how to play the song on two strings.” At the age of 12, he was singing and playing guitar at the wishing well in Old Town, next to La Placita, for tips. He also had a job at La Placita as a bus boy and then waiter. He quit his job at La Placita and worked as a waiter at the Sky Line Club. Quite ironically, the Sky Line Club later became know as the Far West Night Club, where Hurricane performed for many years.
Hurricane attended numerous schools while growing up and graduated from Albuquerque High School in 1954.
Hurricane has had many nicknames and names for his band over the years. They have been billed as “Al Banana and his Bunch”, “The Night Rockers” (which stayed for a long while), and most recently as “The Al Hurricane Band.” Al himself as been billed as Albert Nelson, Bert Nelson, The Little King of Rock & Roll, and ultimately as El Godfather, La Leyenda de Nuevo Mexico–The Legend of New Mexico. He has been making music and has had his band for over 50 years. Al has recorded 30 albums, starting with his first in 1967, “Mi Saxophone,” and his latest release in 2003, “Que Viva EL Godfather.” Hurricane has had several #1 Hits throughout New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and throughout the Southwest. He also recorded under the group name “Bandido” on Discos Musart and EMI Capitol labels. A few of the recordings with Bandido were #1 Hits in Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as in New Mexico, Colorado and throughout the Southwest.
Hurricane has played guitar for such legendary artists such as Fats Domino and Marvin Gaye. Hurricane’s band has also backed up artists such as Chuck Berry, Jimmy Clanton, & Chubby Checker. Al’s tourdates have included locations such as: Chicago, Miami, Asuncion, Paraguay, Buenos Aires, Argentina and Malaga, Spain, with the majority having taken place in the Southwest and Western United States.
Hurricane owned a recording studio in Albuquerque, which contained equipment that Buddy Holly recorded on, and was purchased from Norman Petty. He still owns a recording studio but has been updated with new equipment. He also co-owned a nightclub known as the Far West.
The loss of his right eye came as a result of a car accident on November 1, 1969, on the way to a performance in Denver, CO. There were six people, (band members) in the car, including Al. He was the only one seriously hurt. Another member of the band broke his arm and needed a couple of stitches on the top of his head. But, the accident and the new eye patch didn’t stop the music.
Hurricane’s birthday is July 10, his Zodiac Sign is Cancer, Favorite Color is Teal Green, Favorite NFL team is the Dallas Cowboys, and he loves all sports. Hurricane loves eating beans and tortillas and going to the movies. Of course, one of his biggest loves is being on stage and performing. He also has a true devotion to recording. According to Al, he would record every single day if he were able to.
Hurricane has been married twice, but is now currently single. He has eight children, with seven still living. The oldest is Al Jr. The rest are as follows: Darlene, Sandra & Jerry Dean, from Hurricane’s first marriage. Nelson, Erika, Danielle & Lynnea from Hurricane’s second marriage. Danielle & Lynnea are twins. Lynnea was killed when she was 2 years old.
Hurricane has won numerous awards, such as The Lifetime Achievement Award given to him by the New Mexico Hispanic Awards Association, the Governor’s Award for Music in 1993, and May 5, 2002 was named Al Hurricane and Family Day.
Check Al Hurricane’s website for booking dates, music and more information
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