Hear Kumbala it is listening to the same night that sheltered the 15-year-old boy who lived in a rooftop room in Mexico City, barely accompanied by a borrowed saxophone. The diet of that foreign boy, originally from San Luis Potosí, consisted of a glass of milk and a bolillo, both duly earned from the coins obtained in the trucking centers of the capital.
It was in the streets of the Santa María la Rivera neighborhood and the old Roma neighborhood where Eulalio Cervantes Galarza —Lalo, as his friends called him— met the first damned: the singer Rolando Javier Ortega (Roco Pachukote), the percussionist Adrian Navarro ( Lobito), guitarist Arturo Reyes (Tiki), drummer Rafael Badger on keyboards and the germ on the bongo and the harmonica.
These young people found their identity in a group they baptized La Maldita Vecindad and Los Hijos del Quinto Patio. His tropical, sweeping, handsome sound was hooked on a wild rock and roll that stung the nose like smog, as if The Clash had invited Pérez Prado’s orchestra to play.
“La Maldita Vecindad synthesized, naturally and fun, a series of reflections on Mexican life and society. Sax, within that team, was fundamental. He was a figure who, without being the vocalist, who is the one who usually bears the tension and attention of the public, had a leading personality and charisma”, observes in an interview Emmanuel del Real, a member of Café Tacvba, a group that considers itself heir of the Damn Neighborhood.
“His musical contribution balanced very well all the ideas and concepts of La Maldita. The Sax made the band translate musically and energetically into a scenic voltage that few musicians in a band have been able to transmit”, adds Meme.
The journalist and musician Javier Hernández Chelico —a student of Mexican rock— maintains that Eulalio Cervantes is “an inevitable presence”, alive or dead. “La Maldita may have another saxophonist, but his presence will never be achieved. Sax is one of the most notable presences in Mexican rock. He was a musician in the strict sense of the word. Unfortunately, ingratitude has impregnated Mexican rock for many years”, he says regarding the facts recently revealed by Sax’s widow.
On May 22, 2019, Eulalio Cervantes Galarza, saxophonist and composer of the Maldita Vecindad y los Hijos del Quinto Patio, was recognized for his 25 years of career in the Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico (SACM). Wearing a black suit, a pachuco hat and a light blue tie, he was approached by a reporter.
— Proud of the group you belong to, right? she asked.
—Yes, what has happened to us is more than anything thanks to the fact that we are a band where there is a lot of tolerance between us: love, heart and respect for our family —said Sax, who confessed that, after many years, he had stopped drinking , although alcohol had already left many sequels.
Less than two months after that episode – collected by the magazine TVNotes—, a couple of documents arrived at the musician’s house in the name of the band, said Jessica Franco, Sax’s widow.
In those sheets, the Maldita Vecindad was not the group that promoted the celebration of peace and dance among the carnalitos in its concerts: it was a legal entity represented by two people: Rolando Javier Ortega Cuenca —Roco Pachukote— and his representative Rafael Zepeda Ortega.
In the first document, Maldita Vecindad asked the saxophonist to give him the absolute rights to his image, in perpetuity and for any means of dissemination or marketing, in exchange for five thousand pesos. In the other paper, he proposed a payment of 60,000 pesos for completing a tour in a timely manner, from which he would subtract 20,000 for hospitalization expenses that the band had covered.
Sax refused to sign both contracts. In the Cursed Neighborhood there was no room for all the tenants.
“(Roco) is a person who cannot be counted on because he wants everything for himself. And yes, indeed, with the Sax thing he did very negligent things”, says Arturo Reyes, Tiki, founding guitarist of Maldita Vecindad, who left the group because, he assures, they did not pay him in “many gigs”.
Tiki, Lobito and Pacho, along with Sax’s children, formed the band Malditos de Corazón, with which they pay tribute to the deceased musician and will soon publish Sax songs, before beginning to give concerts.
Tiki adds: “I don’t feel like seeing him (Rocko), although I might have to see him because the songs a great circus and New York White, in its musical bases, which are bass lines, guitar lines, the main thing I did, Pato did not (the current guitarist of the band that will close today the first day of Vive Latino 2022). They should put me in the credits.”
In March 2020, musicians from Café Tacvba, Caifanes and other bands attempted to organize a toquín to raise funds to support Sax. But the pandemic appeared and everything fell apart. A year later, after a series of ups and downs and an album recorded as a soloist, Eulalio was hospitalized for Covid-19. He died on March 14, 2021. His wife denounced that his death did not occur due to the virus, but due to medical negligence. Doctors allegedly ignored the medications and hemodialysis that Sax was required to take.
This publishing house searched for the Maldita Vecindad through one of its members, guitarist Pato Montes, but received no response.
Before he died, Sax left a letter for whom he calls “The donkey who played the flute or The unmentionable”. He concludes thus: “Why do we allow it? Because we believed in the honor of carnalism, which he obviously does not know. We are wrong about it, but we are not all the same. Everyone is in their rightful place.”