Chalino Sanchez was a Mexican singer and songwriter who became the voice of narcocorrido music. His music became popular after his assassination in 1992 and is considered one of the earliest examples of musical artists glorifying drug trafficking in their content. Chalino Sanchez was an artist who only became famous for his work after his assassination
Who was Chalino Sanchez?
Rosalino “Chalino” Sanchez was a Mexican singer and songwriter who became popular for singing narcocorridos, a style of music celebrating Mexican drug and gang culture. Born in 1960, Chalino was raised with several siblings in a remote village in Mexico’s Sinaloa state.
After his father died when Chalino was just six years old, he was soon forced to become the man of the house. At age 15, his sister Juana was raped by a local “mafioso”, leading Chalino to later kill the man in revenge.
To escape the Mexican authorities, he fled to California and stayed with his aunt in Los Angeles. He worked a number of jobs to support himself, and even had a stint as a “coyote”, smuggling people across the US border.
In 1984 Chalino married Marisela Vallejos and had two children with her, Adan and Cynthia Sanchez. After his brother died in Tijuana later that year, Chalino was also sentenced to eight months in prison for a series of petty crimes.
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Throughout his grief and time in prison, Chalino practiced his musical abilities and shared stories with other Sinaloans. He did so in the form of a specific Sinaloan song known as a corrido, historically used to recall heroic tales of the Mexican Revolution or infamous bandits.
Chalino began earning money performing and received guns and gifted “gifts” from his fellow inmates who commissioned him to compose.
Chalino recorded a 15-song tape and began selling his tapes from the trunk of his car across Los Angeles before meeting Pedro Rivera, who had a small recording studio.
The couple collaborated and eventually became one of the first and most famous musicians to sing narcocorridos.
They continued to perform in Southland clubs as their popularity grew within the Latino community in Los Angeles, thanks to the Chalino cadence and Sinaoloan slang. His most memorable performance came in 1992 at Coachella, when a local man jumped onstage and began firing a pistol at Chalino, among a crowd of 400 people.
Chalino grabbed a 10mm pistol from his belt and began exchanging gunfire, which forced the two men to undergo critical surgery.
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Seven to ten civilians were reportedly hit in the exchange before the original shooter was shot in the mouth with his own pistol after being tackled to the ground by a passerby.
After the incident, his sales skyrocketed and Chalino began to gain publicity, which allowed his music to be released.
How did Chalino Sanchez die?
About four months after the pivotal Coachella shoot, Chalino played an exclusive concert in Culiacán, at the Salon Bugambilias. After a hugely successful performance on May 16, 1992, he left the club with his two brothers, his cousin, and several young women.
Gunmen with supposed State Police ID cards stopped the group in Chevrolet Suburbans and took away one of his brothers. After convincing Chalino that the commander wanted to see him, the men convinced the singer to join them in their vehicle, while the other cars followed.
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Hours later, his body was found dumped by an irrigation canal near the neighborhood of Los Laureles, Culiacan. Chalino had been shot twice in the back of the neck after being blindfolded and his wrists tied with rope.
Despite being nearly three decades after his untimely death, Chalino has continued to amass millions of streams. His music and influence have continued to grow in popularity among Hispanic and Latino communities, young and old.
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