• The Rhythm Heirs

    The Rhythm Heirs
    The Rhythm Heirs & Art Wheeler

    The Rhythm Heirs (El Paso, Texas)
    Featuring Evelyn & Virgie / Art Wheeler (Mello-Tones)

    Personnel :

    Eugene Anchondo (Guitarist)

    Beto Velez (Tenor Sax)

    Fernando "Ferny" Pena (Sax)

    Adolfo H. Molinar, Sr (Drummer)

    Discography :

    1959 - Strange World / Cradle Rock (Yucca 105)

    Biography :

    By 1960 there was Little Joe and the Latinaires up north in Temple, Los Dinos in Corpus Christi, Junior & The Starlites in Waco, The Playboys in Seguin, Freddy Frender in San Benito, and the The Rhythmairs in El Paso. The Rhythmairs who along the way changed to the Rhythm Heirs. The band was started five years ago when a South El Paso boy suggested to the Rev. Harold J. Rahin that the Center director organize a group of musicians.

    The Rhythm Heirs
    Virgie and Evelyn Galleges

    The band consisted of two saxophones, two guitars, a trumpet, pianist and drums. The musicians doubled up for vocals and for a short while Virgie and Evelyn Galleges, two cute girls from El Paso High added a new dimension to the group with a flair for dress and good harmony. The Mello-tones, a quartet of the band led by Art Wheeler also participate in the show backed by the Band. Competition kept the band practicing to excel as the Blue Kings, Night Dreamers, Kingsmen and others .

    The Rhythm Heirs           The Rhythm Heirs 

    After numerous concerts and performance and growing popularity, the Band signed a recording contract with Calvin Boles, owner of the label Yucca Records of Alamogordo (New Mexico). Virgie and Evelyn Galleges with The Rhythm Heirs sang "Cradle Rock", The other side of the record is "Strange-World", by Art Wheeler  and the Mello-Tones (uncredited) backing by the The Rhythm Heirs.

    The Rhythm Heirs
    The Rhythm Heirs & The Mello-Tones

    Ruben Molina places Evelyn and Virgie in El Paso in his book Chicano Soul, even referring to "Cradle Rock" as one of the very first doo wop-styled recordings to come out of the border town. And yet this February 1959 release sounds earlier.

    The Rhythm Heirs    The Rhythm Heirs

    The vocal group sound hit El Paso a bit late, but just as it was in cities like Los Angeles and San Antonio the Chicanos hung on to the 'oldies' sound loooooong after it had fallen out of favor on radio.  The most interesting thing about "Cradle Rock" is that it was remade by brothers Benny and Joe Rodriguez who, as members of L.A.'s Heartbreakers, re-recorded the song for Bob Keane's Donna Records in 1964.


    Songs :

    Art Wheeler (& The Mello-Tones)  bb The Rhythm Heirs

    Strange World


    Evelyn & Virgie bb The Rhythm Heirs

    Cradle Rock

  • Comments

    Friday 12nd August 2016 at 19:30

    It's good to see this write up, however there are some errors.  The Rhythm Heirs started in 1953 with Father Harold Rahm, so it was not really a late start.  Most of the musicians were high school students who brought their instruments home from the school band.  Later Fr. Rahm took out a loan to buy instruments for all the musicians.  As the gigs increased and they got paid, the fellows paid back in full and Father Rahm cleared the loan.

    Virgie Gallegos and Evelyn Islas joined the band in 1958 or 59 and remained for the "heyday"  when the Rhythm Heirs were in demand throughout the city for all kinds of celebrations, from high school victory dances, proms, quincianeras and weddings.  They earned the top trophy in almost all the battle of the bands that usually packed the El Paso Coliseum. Other El Paso bands competing included: The Night Dreamers, The Blue Kings, the Teen Timers, and Birdland Combo.

     The first photo is not the Rhythm Heirs, Beto Velez is not on tenor and Fernie Pena is not on sax, he was however drummer for the Rhythm Heirs, the singer appears to be Art Wheeler and the guitarist is Gene Anchondo.

    Father Rahm named the band Our Lady's Youth Center (OLYC) Rythmairs (sic) and the name changed after a Texas country western group with the same name (Rythmairs) threatened to sue over use of "their" name.    

    Your efforts to include the band in this blog are appreciated.  Thank you.

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