LOS SAICOS



I've got an evanescent image of them, it has passed 32 years since they appeared in peruvian TV shows looking tremendous with their unbelievable defying attitude, dressed in leather jackets and pants yelling out: "echemos abajo la estación de tren!/ demoler, demoler, demoler, demoler/ echemos abajo la estación de tren/ Nos gusta volar estaciones de tren" (Let's tear  railway station down!/ tear down, tear down, tear down, tear down/ Let's tear railway station down/ We like blowing railway stations up")

By the end of '50's Lima (Peru's capital city) voraciously assimilated the premieres of “The Wild One”, “Rebel Without A Cause” or “Blackboard Jungle” , the arrival of the first imported records by Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Dale Hawkins, and of course the birth of  local versions, being the very image of the foreign rock ‘n roll stars. MAG Records issued the first efforts of the first rock ‘n roll singers of the country.

By mid 1957 every conservative local newspaper’s headlines read like this: “Rock ‘n Roll fever reached Lima. By midnight of  Thursday 31st and according to the 54 destroyed seats of the Perricholi Theatre, the limean youngsters, emulating the new londoner teddy boys, lived without realizing it a historical moment in the spectacle sociology. They reacted in the same way that their contemporary from the Bronx did. When Anakaona began dancing , youngsters began outrageously yelling out “Rock ‘n Roll!!!!!!. No mambo, rumba or  guaracha, they just wanted rock’n roll and rock ‘n roll came together with dancers Betty Di Roma and Oscar Neyra, but unfortunately their show neither liked them. The only thing that kids wanted was to dance themselves. So the organisers decided to call off the event and the lack of attention of crowd’s demands ended up in total destruction......as the outrageous troglodytes fans of rock ‘n roll were disappointed they attacked the installations.  Rock ‘n roll virus has reached Lima and policemen are in charge of preventing the epidemic.

At this time appeared the first rock’n roll clubs, the first bands (Los Millonarios), the first solo singers (Mike Olivier, Chela Roselló, Billy Villiers, Nadia Milton)...... and the first youngsters gangs: Los Bucaneros from San Isidro (The San Isidro Buccaneers), Los Tabacos Negros from Barranco (The Barranco Black Tobacco), Los Zoquis from Lince and so on, in such districts like La Victoria, Breña, and Jesús María.
Scandals and excesses made by the “outrageous rockers” were up to date, although newspaper “El Comercio” informed about the subject like follows: “Things are getting hot. First it was the ones from Miraflores and Barranco, now the ones from Lince, Santa Beatriz and Palermo. There are great fights between districts and it’s only because of girls ..... things are not so dangerous as it seems ......... it makes no sense to call criminals to these troublesome scamp kids, it’s just exaggerated.

Every weekend they began to organise little live performances at different cinemas like Colon, Diamante and Tauro and first summer festivals by Lima beaches. They were just trying to make their own versions of the actual hits of that moment properly and also to imitate the foreign singers.

Little by little many different bands appeared in several neighbourhoods all around the city. They combined the hit versions with their own stuff: Golden Boys (they later became Golden Stars), Zodiacs, Silver Twisters (they later became Silverton’s), Los Shains, Los Dragones (this was a terrific instrumental number that came out from the chinese neighbourhood close to Lima’s Central Market who became famous under Los Belkings name), Los Yorks, Doltons, Holy’s Keln Gates, Flyers, Loop, Sunsets, Dreams or Telecasters...... but only Los Saicos were the ones that provoked the  real short circuit.
When they appeared at the Cine Colón matinee it was an scandal. They had that evil and raw air that it can still be felt in their songs even though they have been written 35 years ago. If  you still shiver when you hear "Cementerio" (Graveyard) or "El Entierro de Los Gatos" (Cats' Funeral) which are gloomy stories adorned with noises, screams and ideal sound effects for those who love moonless nights, or the brutality of their "love songs" like "Come On" and "Te Amo" (I Love You), Can you imagine the effect that caused the appearance of such characters at that moment?

In fact, the original band's name was to be "Los Sádicos" (The Sadists) but they were censored so according to their particular sense of humour they deleted one letter and played with the english pronunciation of "psychos". One of the members was the owner of some record store close to the Cine Colón (today it has a become porno cinema)  in the Belén street in the middle of limean downtown and that was their point of departure to the gigs. But rehearsals and recordings took place in an old abandoned cinema in Barrios Altos where the girl in charge of  the small independent label (Dis Perú) released  their singles. She had made up a recording studio where she managed to make Los Saicos get that marvellous, bursting and muddy sound of their records.

Their existence was ephemeral  (1964 - 1967) and their discography features only six singles. There is almost no specific information about the band nor in Perú neither in USA  or England, the '45's were released with no information, sleeve was just an ordinary paper with some publicity slogans from the record company printed on it and at that time the only information you could get about bands was the one appearing on the sleeves. There are no image files from their live performances and this makes the mysterious and obscure halo that  surrounds them even bigger.
As a matter of fact they were the ones who set the foundations of local rock 'n roll. The bands coming after stop imitating foreign stars, they just wanted to sound like Los Saicos!!!!!!

Some years ago Pico Ego (Los Shain's  guitarist) told me that he saw the rehearsing sessions of what would later be Los Saicos' first LP but this LP was never released. Probably, it was a compilation of the six '45's, it was the style at that time when a band was successful .

Nobody knows exactly nor what happened with Los Saicos' member after splitting neither the reasons for  their breaking up. Surprisingly the ones who knew them say that breaking had nothing to do with internal conflicts or that kind of things, it is just that they suddenly decided to give up everything.  There is a rumour that one of them is nowadays an outstanding peruvian engineer at the spatial american agency NASA.

Los Saicos let their visceral hate out with no gags and they connected with the massive audiences.
They combined anger, arrogance, anarchy,  and direct and explicit lyrics with a primitive musical talent  (none of their songs last more than 2.30¨) and the west south american coast clearest punk attitude. Their wilderness had nothing to do with what bands like Sandro Y Los De Fuego (Argentina) and Renato + Seus Blue Caps (Brazil)  or Enrique Guzmán y Los Teen Tops (Mexico) did at the same time. Los Saicos were almost a social threat.

This re-edition goes further the anecdotal : Los Saicos were years  ahead of their time and they're still in vogue. Some say Latin Rock?  Yes  LATIN ROCK ,asshole!!

Text Paul Hurtado de Mendoza
English Translated by María de los Angeles Grossi
 
 

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