Abie Epstein’s Legacy Was Music
“Although real estate made up ninety-five percent of his adult life, Abie Epstein’s legacy was his creation of the San Antonio Sound,” Henry Peña stated during his opening remarks at Esptein’s memorial service.
“No one can take the San Antonio Sound away from him,” Richard “Pache” Acosta of the former lead singer of Al and the Pharoahs.
“He had his finger on the pulse of this city,” former KONO personality Wild Bill Riley said. “He knew the DNA of this town and that will never be duplicated. You could not play the music of San Antonio unless you played something produced Abie.”
“He had something that you can’t learn from a book,” former KONO disc jockey Chris Kelly added. “Music is worthless without someone to coordinate and his chemistry was perfect.”
Henry Hernández of the Royal Jesters, who was unable to get the time off work to attend said, “Above all, he was a friend and a mentor to me and many musicians during the time Óscar Lawson used to engineer at his studio. In our case, we started out on Harlem Records, but we were aiming higher, so we went to Abie.”
Peña, who had been friends with Epstein since high school, was there with his him from the formation of his band, Henry and the Kasuals, recording for Epstein’s record label and doing distribution with Epstein’s record company.
“As a teenager in San Antonio, every high school had a garage band, but it wasn’t ‘a band’ unless you recorded at Abie’s recording studio. We just wanted to be on vinyl and hear it on the radio, than the teenagers in high school would buy the music to keep it going. Abie also helped me in radio and television,” Peña continued.
When Peña reached twenty-three and felt he was on top of the world, Abie gave him the best advice a friend could offer, he said, “It doesn’t work that way, get your real estate license and you’ll never be out of a job.” So Peña when to San Antonio College for six weeks and today he continues to be a successful real estate man.
Most at Epstein’s memorial were family and real estate connections. The only entertainment figures present were Peña, Acosta, a former drummer with the original Kasuals; Roger “Pache” Ruiz, who played drums with The Commands, the Playboys plus JJ and the Dell Tones to name a few. Also Alfredo “Güero” Cortinas, a middle 1960s bouncer and body guard at the Cadillac Club and Jesse García, the curator of the Westside Sound.
The three most moving tributes came from Abie’s wife Angela, his daughter Cheryl and his son Jason, who played one of his father’s recordings. It was also interesting to note that all the musicians present, including his nephew Nathan Wilson (his sister Esther Epstein’s son), were all drummers.
This writer could continue with paraphrased information borrowed from other sources, but will instead guide you to the best written obituary, which is by Héctor Saldaña and can be read at MySanAntonio.com.
Epstein died on Friday the 13th from two heart attacks. He was 74. Six days later, Dick Clark, another music icon died of a massive heart attack at 82.