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Vic Love, the Chicano Doo Wop Survivor

Close your eyes and Vic Love will work his magic and get you lost in the 1950’s when radio played “In the Still of the Night” and many other of yesterday’s oldies.

The difference is that Vic started singing those tunes when they were the Top Ten hits of the day.

Vic, who was born Francisco Víctor Gutiérrez, in Rosenburg, Texas grew up in San Antonio where his mother, Guadalupe, would take him to see Pedro Infante, Miguel Aceves Mejia, El Piporro and countless other Mexican singer-actors perform at the Nacional or Alameda movie theaters.

However, by the time he and classmate Pete Martínez entered a talent contest at Charles Grabner Elementary School and they won a 2nd Place Trophy in 1956, he was already into doo wop music. So when he entered Lowell J. Thomas Junior High, he joined the school band with the intention of learning to play saxophone.

“Unfortunately, my parents could not afford to buy me a sax and the only horn the school could provide was the trombone, which I played two years,” Vic said during an interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives.

Vic was still in junior high when Sunny Ozuna, Martín Mauricio and Martín Rojas were all flipping hamburgers at the A&W on Nogalitos Street and in 1957, Robert Kuwamura, Rudy Cardenas and the two Martins became the original Sequence, a doo wop vocal group. Their only musical accompaniment was Kuwamura on guitar. A cappella vocal groups were the thing of the day and Sunny joined the Galaxies as lead singer. With the exception of Mauricio, who went to Fox Tech, everyone else was a Burbank High student.

Meanwhile, Vic and Pete were doing their own thing at sock hops, when Cardenas got married and quit. So Mauricio went looking for them to audition. They were looking for a tenor so it was Vic that got the nod and he joined the Sequence in the summer of 1960 and one of Vic’s first gigs was at Maverick in La Villita.

Rojas then joined the U.S. Marines and was replaced by Reynaldo Sánchez. So the new Sequence was Vic, lead vocals, Kuwamura, Mauricio and Sánchez.

In 1962, they recorded “Night Owl” and “My, My, My” for Pegaso Records as they continued to perform at high school proms and dances, teen clubs, the Undecided plus Slowpokes car clubs and at other venues, where they shared the stage with Sunny, the Dell Kings, Doug Sahm and many other local groups.

In 1963, he married Carmen Albarran and their marriage was blessed with the birth of Yvonne, Yvette, Denise plus Frank and next year they will celebrate their 50th Anniversary.

“After graduation, we kind of went our own way and needless to say, I entered the workforce but continued as a weekend musician. It was when I was the manager of Hardy’s Shoe’s that I hired a college kid to help me stock. His name was Carlos López and he later became a recognized recording artist as Charlie Crystal, but at that time he played keyboards with The Lovells. So when Jimmy Edward quit, Tony Jiménez hired me to replace José Jiménez, who was Edward’s temporary replacement.

In late 1969, “Cómo Un Perro” and “El Petrolero” were released on Teardrop as a Spanish-language 45 rpm single; and “Tell Me the Truth” and “You’re A Friend of Mine” as an English-language single because that’s the trend that Teardrop Records had started – of recording one English followed by one Spanish release to hit both sides of the Mexican-American market.

A year later, the same concept continued with “Nos Regaña Abuelita / Cuando Yo Te Abraze y Te Bese” and “Let’s Make a Celebration, written by Charlie Crystal, backed by “No More Loneliness” on the Latin Soul label.

“The problem is that the record read ‘canta Víctor Gutiérrez’ on the edge of the label because as I was told, my name and the Lovells did not click. My family and I kicked it around and I think my wife said, ‘How about Vic Love’ and we went with that.”

In the summer of 1971, Jiménez decided to downsize the band, so Vic quit and formed his own nine-piece band and continued to record with the Teardrop label. This band included Arturo Ramírez, keyboards; Ernesto Noriega, guitar; Frank Espinoza, bass; and Bob González, drums; plus Leonard Pérez, tenor sax; Raymond Gutiérrez, trumpet; activist/labor leader Jaimé Martinez on trumpet; and who worked with him at Friedrich Air Conditioning.

Later the band also included Harry Martínez, keyboards; Víctor Montez, guitar; Charlie De León, tenor sax; Bob Garza, tenor and baritone sax; and David Sílva on trumpet.

He then entered the eighties with his own record company and two new 45 rpm singles. Of these “Ansias” sort of became his signature song and he kept working full-time and each weekend performing at weddings and private parties here, in surrounding towns and Houston.

At the beginning of the nineties, Vic suffered a back injury and the band broke up. However, he would form a quick temporary band to fulfill various musical obligations. Making a full-circle, in 1991, Vic rounded up Mauricio, Cardenas plus Sánchez and they regrouped as The Sequence Vocal Group.

“Later, Kuwamura also joined us and we became five,” Vic added. “We recorded a compact disc we titled ‘Volume One’ for Love U Records and we’ve been doing good.”

Since the Sequence vocal group is probably the last of the a-cappella doo wop dinosaurs around, as studio musicians, they are often hired to provide the back-up vocals on projects such as Sunny’s “Brown Brother of Soul” CD and Johnny Ray Canales’ “The Way You Look Tonight” CD.

The Sequence, which now consists of Vic, Cardenas, Sánchez and Eddie Mery, is most popular at class reunions, private parties and sports bars.

Vic, who turned 69 on October 4, still had his six-piece band and that’s important to know because you can hire the Sequence vocal group, the Sequence backed by his group or the Vic Love Band.

So if you’re yearning for some killer vocal/musical artistry, call Vic at (210) 421-5683 or e-mail him at [email protected].