ADIOS LA BORREGA
JORGE DE LA TORRE
Some very sad news to report in this first site update in quite some time: Jorge de la Torre, founding member and original lead singer of Los Dug Dug's, passed away on August 14, 2010 in his hometown of Durango, Mexico. He was 63 years old.
EL MUNDO LOCO correspondent Margaret Wilkey filed this report on Jorge's death:
"He died of cancer. He had known it for some time, and had not told anyone. He admitted himself to the hospital, and told his family that there was something that they found. His brother Arturo rarely left his side, and of course the whole family was in and out a lot. He was actually feeling a little bit better and they were going to release him and let him go home, but he died on August 14th at 10:30 in the morning, with most of his family by him. He was cremated, and his ashes were thrown over a place he had picked out that he loved. Then came the memorial. Most of Durango came out, it was a festival for about 4 days and nights. He was very involved witih the Indian culture in Durango and they showed up and did dances, ceremonies, etc. for him."
Jorge de la Torre's music career began in 1960 when he and some high school friends, including Jorge Lujan, formed the band Xippos Rock in Durango. Lujan's cousin, Armando Nava, soon joined the group, which gradually evolved into Los Dug Dug's. The gritty, distinctive vocals of "La Borrega" ("The Lamb"), as he was called, added a special swagger to a handful of early Dug Dug's tracks, most notably "Eclipse" and "It's Over" on the band's first album, as well as the original version of "Stupid People" on a free 45 included in the first edition of that LP. His last performance with Los Dug Dug's was at the legendary Avandaro music festival in Valle de Bravo, Mexico, in September 1971.
In recent years Jorge had made a quiet return to music back home in Durango, singing locally with the band El Vagon de Blues. In 2004 he and Jorge Lujan reformed the original Xippos Rock for a reunion show in Durango, sharing the bill with Armando Nava and Los Dug Dug's.
The local news outlet El Siglo de Durango published an online obituary which featured an interview with his brother Arturo, conducted at the funeral. From this obituary a particularly fascinating excerpt illustrating Jorge's post-Dug Dug's life both inside and outside of music appears below (thanks to Diane Jasso for the English translation):
With his eyes half closed and a bit nostalgic, like a singer in a somber moment, Arturo continues: "Jorge returned to Durango when the band ended and teamed up with Pedrito De La Garza, singing in different parts of the city with one guitar and a pair of bongos. Some of the halls they played were the Union Ganadera, the Auditorio Del Pueblo and other diverse venues, successfully commemorating such artists as John Lennon, Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan." Arturo added they also performed during Las Fiestas De La Ciudad which the city celebrates in "Las Moreras."
Arturo also spoke of the other life of "La Borrega," saying,"18 years ago, Jorge acted on one of his deepest concerns, rescuing the sacred traditions of the indigenous people, opening the Cultural House "Maiz," where indigenous art and lifestyles are expressed.
"He then started to gather with the "Huicholes," assisting with the ceremonies and learning their customs. Then he went on to learn about the "Temazcales" in the Pena de Agulia. He was invited to La Danza Del Sol Ajijic (The Dance of the Ajijic Sun) in Jalisco, where a ritualistic dance is performed over a period of four days and three nights with neither food nor water, symbolizing the completion of the Four Year Cycle. In Durango, Danza Sol and Morcillo, over 200 families participate in this symbolistic practice of old.
"He performed in eight cycles of the "Temazcal" in 16 years. He would travel at least twice a week... to participate in these indigenous ritualistic practices, until he left a legacy where people now dance in public spaces; open green parks struggling to save their traditions by passing on their knowledge."
The complete obituary in Spanish can be viewed here.
Margaret Wilkey first met Jorge in Tijuana in 1966 and became the mother of his first two children, Jorge Jr. and Lisa, conceived during the band's early successes in Tijuana and Mexico City. She shared with us her impressions of him from during that time and thereafter:
Good singer, loved his job, loved to perform in front of people. always had a good time. Had a very very deep speaking voice. His onstage singing voice was more like a Joe Cocker or Stevie Ray Vaughan type -- very raw, but good. Played the tambourine, and also played a little guitar. Was short, but full of energy, always on the go. He loved Armando like a brother, but also resented the fact that Armando made most of the decisions. Jorge was a clown, loved to tease. He had a great smile and he was very easy to fall in love with. He was from a very large family in Durango, 13 brothers and sisters, and he loved them all very much. He would make me recite their names in order, and would throw his head back and laugh.
In the beginning things were very exciting. He made everything seem so special. He loved going to Mexico City and recording and making films. He loved it all. He married a girl named Linda after our relationship broke up, they didn't last very long. They have a son named Raphael. He lives near me in San Diego, but I don't know where.
Jorge was also with a girl named Christine for awhile here in the States, and she actually lived down the street from me and I didn't know it for some time! Then he came down and visited the kids one day, brought them gifts, and that was the last time we saw him. The children were about 9 and 10 at the time.
EL MUNDO LOCO correspondent Oscar Amador Molina, a musician in his own right who participated in the 2004 reunion of Xippos Rock, wrote an article at that time about the event which was published on this website. That article can be read here and provides even more great memories of Jorge and his music. Oscar also put together a memorial concert for Jorge, which took place this September 11th (the 39th anniversary of Avandaro) at Teatro "La Cuchilla" in Durango, with El Grupo Pantano (Oscar's band) and the surviving members of El Vagon De Blues performing. It was a poignant and memorable night for everyone involved. Oscar has written a review of the night which can be read at this link. It is both a report on the concert itself and a heartfelt tribute to the man who inspired him to pursue music and form a band, and is a must-read.