The summer’s hottest ticket? For many Angelenos, it’s the return of Mexican superstars Los Bukis
Earlier this summer, long-dormant Mexican superstars Los Bukis — whose ballads have soundtracked generations of Latino barbecues, weddings and Saturday cleaning sprees but who last performed some 25 years ago — shocked their fans by announcing a comeback tour, “Una Historia Cantada” (A History in Song). The shows kick off on Aug. 27 at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium.
“L.A. is very representative of us,” says Marco Antonio Solís, Los Bukis’ famously coiffed lead singer and songwriter, now 61. “It didn’t give us much in the beginning, but it’s where we recorded most of our records. It’s where we grew the band.”
In August 1995, Los Bukis performed at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before 60,000 fans for what would have been their last-ever L.A. show. “Mexico was our birthplace,” says Solís, “but California was the cradle.” Two-plus decades later, Hans Schafer, the head of Live Nation Latin, says that the band sold out the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium within minutes — faster than the Rolling Stones sold tickets to their SoFi show in October. Upon adding a second date in Los Angeles, Los Bukis sold it out once more at lightning speed — then tacked on additional stadium dates in Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, Arlington, Texas and Oakland.
“Los Bukis are the Mexican Beatles,” says Erik Flores, 27. He surprised his mother with passes to the SoFi show, which he had ceremoniously hand-delivered to her by a Solís impersonator. Despite the band’s immense popularity with SoCal’s Mexican American community, says Flores, “I didn’t think that tickets would sell out so quickly.”
The reunion was cleverly revealed the week of Father’s Day, and Los Bukis tickets became the holiday gift du jour for a generation of young SoCal Latinos to present to their parents. Schafer said that the majority of buyers were between the ages of 25 and 35; on TikTok, many filmed their moms and dads rejoicing, laughing and sobbing at the sight of the tickets.
“[The show] will bring back a lot of amazing memories for my parents,” says Maria Andrade Montes, 20, who bought her folks tickets to the San Antonio concert. She got to know the band through her father, who, while waiting for his family to join him in the U.S., played his wife Bukis ballads through a payphone. “It’s like making them fall in love all over again,” she says.
“Our band has survived many marriages and divorces,” Solís says. “It moves me to see people’s parents react on TikTok. … It moves me to know that the music survived everything.”
Inside Revolver Recordings, a studio in Thousand Oaks, the seven core members of Los Bukis are assembled for their first in-person rehearsal since their 1996 farewell show in Guadalajara. Dressed in crisp white shirts and matching pants, they take turns cracking jokes for a Times photographer between toothy smiles.
“Make sure you get the panza [belly],” says Solís, who pats his stomach.
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He is flanked by the Guadarrama brothers — Roberto, 61, who plays trumpet and keyboard, and José, a.k.a. “Pepe,” 62, who mans the saxophone and keys. Meanwhile, Marco’s younger brother José Javier Solís, 60, conga player and jester of the band, teases the photographer by ducking behind his cousin, founding guitarist Joel Solís, and Los Bukis’ longstanding drummer, Pedro Sánchez, 63. Donning a white fedora, bassist Eusebio “El Chivo” Cortéz, 62, gazes towards a glossy grand piano, from which he later serenades the room with Babyface’s 2001 hit, “What If.”
Previously named Los Hermanitos Solís, or The Brothers Solís, the band formed in Ario de Rosales, a town in Michoacán, Mexico, where founding members Marco and Joel were born and raised. Upon releasing their 1975 debut, “Falso Amor,” the Solís boys, still teenagers, booked a lucrative first tour in the United States. So they embarked on a dangerous trek in 1977; without proper documentation, much less a backup plan, they made their way across the border with four others on foot. Los Bukis later chronicled the experience in their 1978 corrido, “Los Alambrados,” or “Wire Fences,” which was dedicated to migrants who took the same perilous journey.
“We didn’t know what degree of danger we were in,” Marco reflects. “We had such a provincial innocence back then. In fact, a helicopter came looking for us, but we weren’t afraid. … We were so young. To us, it was an adventure. The beauty of being innocent is not being burdened with guilt. I think a lot of our fans can relate to that.”
Eventually, Los Hermanitos Solís realized they needed a more memorable name to stand out in Los Angeles, which was already teeming with regional Mexican bands. “Everybody was Hermanos Nuñez, Hermanos Huerta,” says Joel with a laugh.
The name “Los Bukis” translates to “The Little Kids” in the Indigenous Yaqui language, which originated in northern Mexico. “We’re from further south — Michoácan, Zacatecas,” says Marco. (“And Mexico City,” interjects Cortéz.) “But we were kids, and we liked the sound of it.”
In the four decades since their inception, Los Bukis have earned their reputation as Mexico’s designated love doctors, through standout hits like the 1986 breakup ballad “Tu Cárcel,” (“Your Prison”). A work of tropical pop served cold as ice, the song, as well as its corresponding album, “Me Volvi a Acordar de Ti,” sold more than a million copies, achieving diamond status in Mexico. The band chose “Tu Cárcel” to re-record ahead of the reunion shows, says Marco, “because that’s the essential Bukis sound — a song that came to me like an epiphany.”
“Like other pop juggernauts such as Earth, Wind & Fire or even the Rolling Stones, their music is so integral to a certain generation that I bet the children and sometimes the grandchildren of the original fans can hum along to ‘Tu Cárcel,’” says Felix Contreras, co-creator and host of NPR’s Alt.Latino program.
By his own admission, Marco has a habit of rhapsodizing about even the most mundane of things; when asked about the inspiration behind his darkly romantic, sometimes hypertheatrical lyrics, he says the real creative juice flows from the fountain of the divine. “Songs come to me by the grace of God,” he explains. “Even if it’s 6 a.m., and I only have one of those little hotel notebooks to write on, I have to answer the call.”
“I can’t do what he does,” says Joel of his cousin. “If a song came to me in the middle of the night … I’d just go back to sleep.”
As a band, Los Bukis also shepherded the rise of grupera, a hybrid of regional Mexican and pop-rock sounds that first emerged in the 1970s. Although the traditional song structures of regional styles like norteño, banda, cumbia and mariachi remained intact, traditional instruments like the accordion and strings were jettisoned in favor of electric guitar and synths. This synthesis of old and new hurtled Los Bukis, as well as Ana Bárbara and Joan Sebastian, towards pan-Latin American stardom.
“It’s got the same characteristics, but the instruments have different voices,” says Roberto Guadarrama. “You put the keys where you’d usually hear violins — that’s what makes it more Bukis.”
Through the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Los Bukis dominated Billboard’s Regional Mexican and Latin charts and became three-time Grammy nominees — most recently for their 1991 album, “A Través de Tus Ojos.” Meanwhile, Marco began to cultivate a stellar career of his own as a solo artist as well as a hit songwriter and composer for stars like Rocío Durcál, Marisela and Pepe Aguilar. At the behest of Fonovisa Records executives, who encouraged Marco to delve into the Latin pop realm, he began to drift away from the group.
Following Marco’s official resignation from the band in 1995, the remaining members formed their own group called Los Mismos, or The Same Ones, and went on to record 11 albums of their own. Meanwhile, Marco would receive multiple Latin Grammys and a Billboard Latin Music Lifetime Achievement Award. He even voiced Ernesto de la Cruz, the villain in the Spanish dub of Pixar’s animated film, “Coco.” But out of respect for one another, each bandmate made a pact not to play a single Bukis song in public while apart.
“Now, our 25 years of vacation is over,” says Roberto with a wink.
“Marco never really stopped going after [leaving Los Bukis],” says his wife, Cristy Solís, who has been a satellite in Los Bukis’ orbit since the two met 30 years ago. They share two daughters, Marla and Allison. “Before [COVID-19], he was touring nonstop for 45 years,” explains Cristy. “Marco always kept in touch with the guys, but after everything that’s happened in the last year, I think that this is a special time to connect.”
While Marco was preparing a virtual concert for Mother’s Day 2021, titled Bohemia En Pandemia, Cristy counseled her husband to round up his former bandmates for a surprise performance, which evolved into their upcoming tour. (There are no plans to record as of yet.)
“What ultimately moved us for this reunion was our shared faith, and the will of our hearts that arose when we [performed together] again,” says Marco. “With that goodwill, we planted the seeds, and now we reap what we sowed so many years ago.”
In matching burgundy suits, Los Bukis convened anew this past May to film the video for “Tu Cárcel.” This time, they eschewed their flashy 1986 garb of the original version, choosing instead to embody the down-to-earth spirit of the 1970s garage band they started as — and perhaps, still are.
“We really haven’t changed after all these years,” says Joel. “We have the same essence, the same artistic delusions, the same way of feeling and seeing things. We believe in God. He is the one who has brought us all together here.
“Our only vice — if there’s one to be had — is music.”
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