For a generation of Salvadoran Americans who remember the golden age of Salvadoran pop music before the country's brutal civil war of the 1980s and early '90s, the buenas epocas (good times) may roll again this Saturday night. That's when more than half a dozen star frontmen of some of El Salvador's top pop bands of the '60s and '70s will reunite for an 8 p.m. concert at Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood.
Like the early Chicano bands of East L.A., Salvadoran pop and rock musicians were heavily influenced by Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Motown and James Brown and began imitating them. At first, most Salvadoran bands cranked out Spanish-language cover versions of hits like "Louie, Louie." Many Salvadorans still regard those versions -- not their English-language counterparts -- as the originals.
Later, swayed by the era's experimental vibes, Salvadoran groups began writing their own songs, combining British Invasion-style pop hooks with salsa and cumbia beats and swoony bolero sentiments. It was Salvador's version of a global pop music boom that was paralleled in places like Brazil, where the Tropicalia movement similarly fused native bossa nova with Anglo-American rock and psychedelic pop.