Peruvian rock

Rock music entered the Peruvian scene in the late-1950s, through listening to performers like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Bill Haley, who popularized rockabilly in the United States. The first Peruvian rock bands appeared during this time. They included Los Millonarios del Jazz, Los Stars, Conjunto Astoria, Los Incas Modernos, and Los Zodiacs.


New trends like British Merseybeat and American surf became popular. A number of Peruvian bands built a loyal audience. Among them, Los Saicos who fusioned psychedelic rock, garage rock and surf, Los York's, Los Jaguars, Los Silvertons, Los Belkings, Los Doltons and Los Shains who featured rock guitar hero Pico Ego-Aguirre (later at Pax), as well as Traffic Sound, the first Peruvian supergroup, merging core players from Los Hang Ten's with other important musicians.


After the military took over the government in October 1968, rock was outcast as an alienating phenomenon by the government of General Juan Velasco Alvarado in various ways: banning concerts in key venues and even banning a highly anticipated Carlos Santana concert in 1971. However, some AM radio stations continued to play rock music (such as Radio Miraflores, Radio 1160, and Radio Atalaya). Also, record companies continued to release LPs of rock bands (such as Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix) in Peru. The movie Woodstock was shown in Lima every two or three years. Moreover, some bands left their mark, such as El Polen, Traffic Sound, Pax, We All Together, Telegraph Avenue, Black Sugar, Crossroads, Tripping Foxters, Red Amber the first progressive rock band, and in the late 1970s Fragil.

Other than the above, Peruvian rock descended into its most obscure era during the mid '70s, losing the momentum it had laboriously gained. Only one exception appeared in the late 1970s, the band Breeze with Roxana Valdivieso. They released one self-titled album and all of its songs were in English. Disco and salsa dominated the airwaves for the remainder of the decade. Some rock musicians became jazz musicians, such as guitarist Richie Zellon.


During the late '70s and early '80s, Peruvian rock bands (such as Vértigo, Acido and Up Lapsus una banda subte grabado the song Tormenta el sello discografico Odeon-Iempsa) were confined to the underground scene; with no radio or TV support. The half-hour TV show Disco Club led by singer-songwriter Gerardo Manuel (Rojas) was an occasional exception. Fragil released its first LP in 1981. Nevertheless, because of the deep crisis that the country was suffering, Peruvian rockers looked for a way to channel their frustrations. In this environment, it is no surprise that British Punk rock became a major influence to a few young Peruvians rockers of this era, and quickly a small "underground" scene started brewing parallel to the free-again 'mainstream' scene. Bands like Leusemia, Narcosis, Zcuela Crrada formed part of the first wave. The members of these bands were mostly from poor neighborhoods, but a few came from upper-class neighborhoods and had learned English in their schools.

Bands like Fragil, Rio, Miki Gonzales, Pax, Jas, Imagenes, Trama, Danai y Pateandolatas came from upper and middle-class backgrounds, uncovering the social division in Peruvian society. According to some scholars (mainly left wing thinkers), the 'underground' scene was by far richer in creativity, though lacking technical skills, some others think the "commercial" scene was more worthwhile, since the underground scene hardly reached more than a few hundred supporters per concert and mainly in the capital city of Lima, being virtually unknown to the rest of the country.

Quickly several bands started appearing and creating subgenres within the umbrella 'underground' scene. Radio or TV support was nonexistent for them (the mainstream bands did have some), poverty and lack of technology prevented most bands from recording any moderate-quality material. Despite all this, the present and future looked much brighter than in the '70s, since these bands, especially the mainstream ones, were pioneers in the rock scene after the '75–'85 downturn.

At the same time, a more underground scene of Death metal and Black metal developed in Lima. These bands had been influenced by European bands. Local bands such as Mortem and Kranium among others were formed in the '80s.


The further growth of the underground scene and the liberalization of Peruvian society and economy allowed different rock musicians to split and create sub-circuits, and rock became very diversified and varied. Some of the best (but not necessarily best known) rock bands from Peru came out during this decade. Leusemia became the leaders of not only the 'underground' faction, but of all Peruvian rock, undergoing a change from very basic rock band to a prolific and influential group that included rock anthems, ballads and symphonic, almost progressive rock. For those who liked the 80s post-punk, Dolores Delirio, Voz Propia and Cardenales were among the best at the 'goth' sound.

Huelga De Hambre was one of Peru's grunge-influenced group. El Aire, G3, Arcana, Radio Criminal, Los Mojarras, Mar De Copas, La Liga del Sueño and Rafo Raez where very solid bands of diverse genres that soon were followed in the late '90s by other great bands like La Sarita, Ni Voz Ni Voto, Cementerio Club, D'Mente Comun and Líbido that expanded Peru's rock universe.

Due to financial difficulties and lack of support from promoters most bands from different backgrounds had to end up playing the same few venues, which allowed the forming of a solid, knowledgeable and loyal fanbase. Although the concerts were very small at the beginning (50 people, average), as the decade progressed, more young people started to notice these bands and fill bigger venues with 500, 1000, or 2000 people. Towards the end of the decade megaconcerts like "Acustirock", "El Niño Malo", "Antimiseria" and "Inrockuptibles" brought in at least 10,000 fans each.

Peruvian media continued to largely ignore these bands, but started to slowly open up in the late '90s. The few Peruvian acts that got exposure where of a decidedly more upper-class and 'safer' sounding rock. The best bands of "mainstream '90s" rock were Nosequien y Los Nosecuantos, Miki Gonzales and Arena Hash, whose member Pedro Suárez-Vértiz became the most commercially successful Peruvian rocker of the decade as he went on a solo career.

The Black/Death Metal scene still remained as an underground act. The old bands, through a lot of effort, released fine self-produced stuff. Many Black Metal and Death Metal bands were formed such as black metallers Illapa, Belzec, Nahual and Death-Thrash Metal acts like Dark Silence, Ensalve and Hadez. Many conflicts between bands (which include thrash talking and rival feelings) and critical political-economics issues were the cause of many disbanded metal groups.

A report on Peruvian rock included in the July 1999 issue of Maximum RocknRoll mentions the following bands: Aeropajitas, Manganzoides, 60s garage punk/garage revival, Asmereir, a blend of punk/ska/reggae/hardcore/thrash, Leusemia, that put out a double CD through Coyote Records and it's titled Moxon, Histeria Kolectiva reminiscing of Leusemia, dios hastío euro-crustcore intense and desperate, Ataque Frontal classic I-spit-on-your-face band, one of the shapers of the scene, Psicosis ska/punk orchestra, 3 Al Hilo, punk rock & roll, Metadona female fronted pop-punk, Magras punk/hardcore and reggae, P. T. K. this means Pateando Tu Kara, Sudor de Huevos (SDH)-punk, Los Rezios, Autonomia, Migraña, Irreverentes, Hazloquechuchapunkron, Perú No Existe, Generacion Perdida as well as fanzines: Caleta, Sub, Cuero Negro and Crash Boom Zap.


A mature and prolific rock scene needed exposure in the whole country and Latin America. Due in thanks to the improved economic presence of the country as a whole in the region, this came soon. Peruvian TV and the Latin American division of MTV was quicker to notice and bring in Peruvian bands in their shows than the own Peruvian mainstream radio. Suddenly, Peruvian band videos were in normal rotation alongside regionally known acts like Soda Stereo, Shakira and Jaguares.

Peru's most successful band ever became Líbido, selling hundreds of thousands of discs worldwide and receiving Grammy nominations and several Latin MTV awards. Soon other bands like Amen, Zen and TK encountered similar success. Aliados and Inyectores, both made up of ex-G3 members, Los Fuckin Sombreros, Campo De Almas and Pelo Madueño, drummer of the '80s Peruvian rock band [Narcosis] and leader, vocalist and guitarist of the 90s Peruvian rock band La Liga Del Sueño, 6 Voltios, Space bee, Zaraúz, Brinvonda, Turbopotamos, Vaselina, Leusemia, Pancho Pepe Jazz Band, Los Claxon, DaleVuelta, Tráfico, Uchpa which is a rock & blues band in Quechua, Jose Arbulú, who is also the vocalist and lead guitar of Cementerio Club, and Area 7, an exponent of Peruvian Nu-Metal (i.e. new metal) and the country's only all-female metal band, were acts that developed at the local level. Peruvian electronic music has its representatives in bands like Theremyn 4, Unidad central, Deimos, Insumision, Ensamble, Vacuna tu hijo, Kollantes.

Dozens of new bands keep coming out and most of the '90s bands are still playing and have greatly improved the quality of their offerings. The albums of the early rock banks, including Los Saicos, Traffic Sound, and We All Together have been released on CDs. Radio stations are currently much more receptive of mainstream Peruvian Rock, given its recent relative commercial success although most of Peruvian media does not promote popular underground acts such as punk and reggae.

List of bands and solo performers

See also


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