Tierra posted the sad news today on its Facebook page:
It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Rudy Salas, the leader and co-founder of Tierra, early this morning. We have lost our rock, our creative spirit, husband, father, grandfather (and soon to be great-grandfather), uncle, brother and leader of Tierra whose history spans nearly 5 decades. Millions have enjoyed Tierra's music and we are deeply grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and family. Because of the pandemic, we cannot immediately announce funeral arrangements but we will keep you informed in the future. In the meantime, please respect the privacy of the family and band members as we grieve. Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts in this difficult time.
The Salas and Tierra Family
After working as part of the popular group El Chicano, Rudy and Steve Salas formed Tierra in the early 70s as a full bodied R&B band, with additional members Rudy Villa, Kenny Román, Conrad Lazano, Aaron Ballesteros, Alfred Rubaclava and Leon Bisquera. They recorded a couple albums that had regional success, but broke out in 1980 with a harmony-filled cover of the 1967 Intruders hit "Together" (which also had a piece of “Cowboys to Girls” thrown in at the end). https://youtu.be/sj-UxJwBXuo It became the group's signature song, hitting the upper registers of both the pop and R&B charts.
Tierra followed it with another Philly soul cover, charting on a nice version "La La Means I Love You".
The band continued with some lower charting hits into the 90s, before breaking off into two groups (one led by Rudy and one by Steve). However, in the new century, Tierra found new life, recording on occasion and performing often, particularly in California. In 2016, the group (which had sadly lost several members to death) released “Merry Christmas My Love,” which became a favorite among SoulTrackers. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic earlier this year substantially hurt Tierra, leaving members without gigs, and leading to a GoFundMe effort for the band.
Over the past decade there developed a newfound appreciation for Tierra's pioneering work bridging R&B and Latin styles and opening doors for Latino artists to have a place in pop and R&B formats.
As requested by the Salas family, we will be keeping them in our prayers, even as we remember one of the smoothest soul songs of its time.