While the term “oldies” may conjure up the rock n’ roll sounds of Bill Haley for some, to others the heart wrenching ballads of Billy Stewart are what immediately comes to mind. Stewart amongst others are a part of a canon revered in the Chicanx community as “lowrider oldies.” These sentimental songs continue to be cherished throughout the generations, from baby boomers to millennials alike.
Originally this music was enjoyed and collected on vinyl. Several notable DJs such as Art Laboe and Huggy Boy released compilations of some of the more popular tracks. Released in the late 70’s, the East Side Story compilations, quickly set themselves apart in terms of image and sound. Bordered by green and red stripes, titled with dripping graffiti letters, for the first time ever Chicanx themselves graced the covers of oldies compilations, standing proudly in front of lowriders, with lovers and friends. The music – strictly smooth soulful cuts, no pop filler, the perfect accompaniment to cruisin’ down the boulevard.
Although the albums have since become synonymous with Chicanx cultural nostalgia, the people involved in the series have been unknown until recently.