Governor Newsom just unveiled the 14th class of inductees to the California Hall of Fame Museum.
Yes. Deserving recipients all.
And yet again, there has been a glaring oversight: Los Lobos, extraordinary Los Angeles musicians who embody everything the museum showcases about extraordinary Californians.
As Latin American Heritage Month winds down, someone needs to be asking this question:
Why on earth hasn’t Los Lobos been inducted into the state’s hall of fame museum?
Since its 1978 debut album – Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles (Just another band from East L.A.) – the band has proven time and again that it is hardly just another band from anywhere on the planet. Los Lobos is a national treasure and a pure reflection of everything that’s excellent and authentic about California.
For me, Los Lobos is a unifying force in an era of societal fragmentation and discord. The band transcends ethnicity and genre. It has something for everyone, blending so many styles of music and making it their own special sound: Blues, Country, Rock, R&B, Tex-Mex, Latin Rock, Roots Rock, Americana and traditional Mexican folk music. The band was even hired by Disney to release an album of Disney covers and just last year issued an album of traditional Christmas songs from throughout Latin America.
Los Lobos easily checks all the boxes for inductee requirements: “has transcended the boundaries of their field to make lasting contributions to the state, nation and world and that their extraordinary vision motivates and inspires people to further their own dreams.”
Everyone else seems to have figured this out already but the California Hall of Fame:
- The band was a recipient of the 2021 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States government’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.
- A nomination for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
- Induction into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame in 2018.
- Three Grammy Awards. Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
- They have played everywhere from the California State Fair and Rose Parade to the White House.
And yet their home state of California has not yet included them in this truly amazing museum featuring a staggering array of remarkable Californians across the arts, politics, business and other disciplines. The museum’s 130 or so inductees include everyone from Clint Eastwood and Steve Jobs to Maya Angelou and Charles Schulz.
To be sure, every current inductee is incredibly deserving of the honor. Interestingly, however, there are only a few Latinos in the Hall. By my count, just eight, including Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, George Lopez, Carolos Santana and the freshly inducted Ritchie Valens.
Let’s be clear: this observation is no way is tied to identity politics that demand equal percentages of this or that group. Simply put, the band deserves induction purely on merit and enormous talent. I would put Los Lobos up against any band in America.
But given the ongoing rise and cultural influence of Latinos in California, this oversight is rather surprising. When the band formed in 1973, Latinos made up 12 percent of the state’s population. The ascent of Los Lobos mirrors that of Latino Californians, who now represent nearly 40 percent of all Californians.
While Los Lobos is one of my all-time favorites, I don’t have any personal connection to the band or its members, who strike me as low-key, anti-celebrities who probably don’t care much about being in the California Hall of Fame Museum. This attitude is not only admirable, but it underscores that Los Lobos has seemed content to have simply remained focused on its art and being true to itself for the past four decades. As it should, the music does all the talking.
So we Californians should speak up on behalf of Los Lobos to remedy this significant cultural oversight. Los Lobos in 2022.
Allen is Faultline’s managing editor and co-founder.