The story of this enduring Latin rock band begins with lead singer Arcelio Garcia. As a teenager, Arcelio joined a friend’s singing group when their baritone went into the army. He had found his metier and began to learn from his more experienced friends. Arcelio was soon invited to join a band called the Malibus, named after the Chevy sportscar. They became a very well-known and popular band in the Bay area in the mid-sixties. At first they played mainly R&B, but later started to add Latin music to the mix.

Three or four years into the career of the Malibus, a guitarist was brought in by the name of Jorge Santana, the brother of the already famous Carlos Santana. In 1970 the Malibus changed their name to Malo and things started happening. At times numbering as many as ten or more musicians, Malo’s powerful sound was different to that of Santana in that the line-up included a serious horn section, which included, at various times, leading trumpet player Luis Gasca, as well as percussionists Coke Escovedo, Francisco Aguabella, Victor Pantoja and Richard Bean (of Sapo fame).

They were signed to Warner Brothers Records and recorded their first album, which was simply entitled “Malo” (BS-2584). Arcelio co-wrote four of the six songs, including their classics “Nena” and “Cafe.” Released in 1972, “Malo” also included “Suavecito,” which had evolved from a song they had written and been doing in clubs called “My Love.”

One of the band members at the time, Richard Bean, wrote a new lyric which gave birth to a major hit record. Malo members Pablo Tellez and Abel Zarate also got credit for the composition.

Warner Brothers released Malo’s second album, “Dos” in 1972, followed by “Evolution” in 1973.  Illness kept Arcelio Garcia out of the group for a year in 74-75. This was the period when Little Willie G., formerly of Thee Midniters of East L.A., came in and became lead singer for Malo. Willie did one album entitled “Ascención” and toured with the band. This album was Malo’s last with Warner Brothers.

Back in good health, Arcelio, who owns the Malo name and logo, moved to New York and started Malo anew. This resulted in the release of Malo V in 1981. Arcelio then came back to the West Coast, where he has been based ever since.


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