Tierra (band)

Last updated

Years active1973–present
Associated acts El Chicano
Past membersSteve Salas
Rudy Salas
Steve Falomir
Philip Madayag
Joey Guerra
Bobby Navarrete
Andre Baeza

Tierra is a Latin R&B band, originally from Los Angeles, California, that was first established in the 1970s by former El Chicano members Steve Salas (vocals) and his brother Rudy Salas (guitar). The other original members were Bobby Navarrete (reeds), Joey Guerra (keyboards), Steve Falomir (bass guitar), Philip Madayag (drums), and Andre Baeza (percussion). Their biggest hit was the 1980 remake of The Intruders' 1967 hit "Together", written by Gamble & Huff, which reached #18 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #9 on the US Billboard R&B chart. [1] It was a number one record on Los Angeles radio. [2] [3]



Tierra has the distinction of being the first Latino band to have four songs on the national chart with two of them in the Top 100 at the same time. [4]

Around 1973, Rudy and Steve Salas formed Tierra and their self-titled debut album was recorded. By the mid-1970s the band consisted of the Salas brothers, Rudy Villa on reeds, Kenny Román on drums and Latin-percussion, Conrad Lozano on bass, Aaron Ballesteros on drums and vocals, Alfred Rubaclava on bass and Leon Bisquera on keyboards. Around that time they recorded the album Stranded for the Salsoul records label. [5]

In 1980 they had a platinum hit with their version of "Together" which was a remake of the 1967 song by The Intruders. [6] The song which was written by Gamble & Huff, reached #18 on the Billboard Hot 100, #30 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #9 on the US Billboard R&B chart. [7] A few months later they had another chart hit with "Memories". Later in the year they charted again with "La La Means I Love You". [8]

In 1981, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times Rudy Salas was quoted as saying "Sometimes I couldn't feed my family, I'm going out to get a legitimate job." at those bleak moments, his then wife Martha Salas would intervene. "She would talk me out of it," Salas said. "She knows how I love music. She would tell me, "No way you're gonna quit, you'd just take it out on me and the kids and we'd all be miserable." "She was right". [9] [10]

In 1995, they released their A New Beginning album. [11]

Around 1997, younger brother Steve supposedly quit the band after disputes over leadership of the band, money and management. In an interview he claimed that he was fired by his brother Rudy. He formed his own band and for a period of time there were two bands bearing the name Tierra. The Tierra band led by Steve Salas was booked for three nights at the Conga Room. Rudy Salas's wife Joanna Alvarado Salas contacted the club to inform them that the real Tierra was the one fronted by her husband. This led to the club's booking manager Robert Vargas getting into negotiations and mediating between the two brothers with a plan to have a band consisting of the two brothers and as many members as possible from their successful years in the early 1980s. An argument developed over the line up, and Steve Salas backed out two weeks before the concert was to take place. He then apologized, and In January 2002 they were booked to play the Conga Room. [12]

Recent years

Their most recent album is On Solid Ground which was released in 2013. They appeared on Kid Frost's 2001 CD, Still Up in This Shit! , performing a new version of The Notations' "I'm Still Here".

Band member Isaac Avila died at age 49 of a brain hemorrhage on August 30, 2009. [13] Johnny "The Stick" Valenzuela died some time between 2010 and 2013. [14] Bassist Steve Falomir died due to a stroke on January 21, 2012 [15] in Los Angeles. Rudy Salas died on December 29, 2020. [16]

As of May 2015, Tierra was still active and there was talk of a collaboration between Tierra and DW3 aka Down With Three that consists of Billy Mondragon, Damon Montelongo, and Eric Mondragon. [17] [18]

Past members

1973 lineup

Other members


See also

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  1. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 580.
  2. KRLA survey for week ending November 28, 1980. http://www.las-solanas.com/arsa/surveys_item.php?sv=97834
  3. Radio & Records (November 14, 1980). "Parallel One Playlists". Surveys for both K-EARTH and KRLA have "Together" at number one.
  4. 94.7 The WAVE May 22, 2015 Tierra’s Rudy Salas Talks Music, Performing & More By Pat Prescott
  5. Barrio Rhythm: Mexican American Music in Los Angeles Steven Loza 104 Part I: HistoryTierra
  6. Postnational Musical Identities: Cultural Production, Distribution, and Consumption in a Globalized Scenario Edited by Ignacio Corona and Alejandro L. Madrid Page 141 Assimilation, Reclamation, and Rejection
  7. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 580.
  8. Billboard Artists / Tierra Chart History
  9. The Los Angeles Times, Sunday November 8, 1981
  10. The Pantagraph, Saturday, November 21, 1981 - Page 45 Mexican-American bands struggle to make it
  11. All Music Tierra A New Beginning
  12. Los Angeles Times January 16, 2002 A Band (or Two) of Brothers - Augustin Gurza
  13. The Dead Rockstars Club 2009 July to December
  14. ¡LatinoLA! April 25, 2013 Chicano Music Legend Rudy Salas of Tierra
    The lead guitarist and songwriter for East L.A.'s legacy band speaks up about his new music, his politics, and his family By Belinda Quesada, Contributing Writer
  15. The Dead Rockstars Club 2012 January to June
  16. https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/entertainment/music/2020/12/30/rudy-salas-tierra-music-band-leader-and-cofounder-dies/4093495001/
  17. 94.7 The WAVE May 22, 2015 Tierra’s Rudy Salas Talks Music, Performing & More By Pat Prescott
  18. The Electronic Urban Report July 23, 11 DW3 Reintroduces Latin Soul Music with their Hot New Release ‘On the Floor’
  19. Lowrider website January 1, 2010 Lifestyle / Entertainment, Tierra of East Los Angeles by Steve Gonzales and Mike Landers
  20. The Dead Rockstars Club 2009 July to December
  21. Lowrider website January 1, 2010 Lifestyle / Entertainment, Tierra of East Los Angeles by Steve Gonzales and Mike Landers
  22. JazzTimes January / February 1998 Various Artists, Latin Legends Live By Marcela Breton
  23. Bisquera, Leon (2018). "Bio".Cite journal requires |journal= (help)



  1. "Chicano Music Legend Rudy Salas of Tierra" By Belinda Quesada, Contributing Writer Published on LatinoLA: April 25, 2013
  2. LA Times Online Staff Writer Agustin Garza May 27, 2008