“My Father” – written by Zina Escovedo
A Beautiful And God Gifted Man
Born July 13th, 1935, Pittsburg, California
Having to share space was not easy with a household of 7 children. My father (Pete) lived in a small house with his mom, dad, sisters and brothers. As full as the house was with family, there was always room for more. Musicians constantly came to the house to play. Music was an everyday part of this family.
1954 – Music
My father’s first instrument in school was the saxophone. It didn’t take long to discover that this was definitely not his calling. He decided to try another instrument, bongos. The first bongo set was made out of coffee cans and tape, and he painted it himself. He was determined to play. In the same year my father and mother met in Jr. High School, they courted for 2 1/2 years and fell in love.
October 21, 1956 – Marriage
The St. Andrew’s church in Oakland was filled with hundreds of friends and family to celebrate and witness the young couple exchange their vows before God. My mother’s dress was made by “Ms. Brown” as she called her. The wedding dress draped from her shoulders all the way down to her feet with a 15 foot trail behind her. The back of the wedding dress had 100 satin buttons that lined the middle of her spine to the tail end of her back. My mother wore a simple white laced vale that covered the top of her head and fell down her back to her waist. As far as my father was concerned, he had to rent his own tuxedo. Traditionally at that time, the bride’s parents would take care of all the wedding expenses. After the ceremony, Mr. and Mrs. Escovedo continued to celebrate in “The Gold Room” at the California Hotel in San Francisco where they danced and listened to the great Latin sounds of Carlos Frederico.
This was the beginning of a musician’s life. Before long the Escovedo family was born.
- Sheila, born December 12, 1957
- Juan, born March 13, 1959
- Peter Michael, born July 7, 1961
- and I ( Zina), born November 26, 1967 (what a great year)
During this time of raising 4 children, times were hard financially. My mother worked in the Carnation ice cream factory, while my father worked during the day and played music at night to help support the family. Sometimes he would play 2 different nightclubs in one night for little or no money. We all grew up on the road, backstage at different nightclubs where we would fall asleep and take our naps. Sometimes I would roll up in a ball and go to sleep on the speakers!
Our vacations would always start with my mother loading us up in the car and placing one of us on her lap. Back then there were no car seats or seat belts. Pops would help pack the car with food that moms made at home the night before. We would drive down the highway until our parents found a motel off the side of the road to stay for the night. My mother and father would get one room for all of us to sleep in. The next day we would go to the pool to go swimming all day. Sometimes on the weekends my parents would take us to the drive-in movie theater which was $1 per car, and we would pile in the station wagon in our pajamas and bring our blankets to lay on top of the roof of the car to watch the big screen. Life was good for the Escovedo Family.
My uncle Coke and Phil joined my father and formed The Escovedo Brothers Latin Jazz Sextet. They played all over town, carrying their own instruments on the bus to get to their next gig and earn their $50. They played in famous places like the Matador, Jazz Workshop, The Tropics and The Basin St. West. The three brothers stuck together. After their late night gigs they would get something to eat and talk about music, traveling and being famous one day. Music was everything to them, it was their life.
My father and uncle Coke went on tour with guitarist Carlos Santana. Pops toured with Santana for three years, performing internationally and playing on the albums Moonflower, Oneness, and Inner Secrets.
To have the amazing opportunity to play percussion with Santana was like a dream he would never forget but something in his soul was still struggling. My father’s vision grew bigger, he needed to make a name for himself and for the music that kept playing in his mind. He finally decided that it was time to leave.
In the 1970’s my father and uncle Coke founded the band Azteca and recorded two albums for Columbia, a self titled album and Pyramid Of The Moon. They made a name for themselves, and accomplished their dream.
From the 70’s until now my father has performed and toured with many great and respected artist, such as, Herbie Hancock, Mongo Santamaria, Bobby McFerrin, Cal Tjader, Woody Herman, Stephen Stills, Billy Cobham, Anita Baker, George Duke, Boz Scaggs, Andy Narell, Al Jarreau, Ray Obiedo, Dionne Warwick, Marlena Shaw, Barry White, Angela Bofill, Arturo Sandoval, Poncho Sanchez, Chick Corea, Dave Valentine, Najee, Gerald Albright, Prince, and none other than the most gifted and respected person that we will always call family, the legendary Tito Puente.
- Pete and Sheila Escovedo – Solo Two (1977)
- Pete and Sheila Escovedo – Happy Together (1978)
- The Island (1983)
- Yesterday’s Memories, Tomorrow’s Dreams – Live in Concert (1987)
- Mister E (1988) – nominated for a Grammy
- Latina Familia (1989) – with Sheila E. and Tito Puente
- Flying South (1996)
- E Street (1997)
- E Music (2000)
- Whatcha Gonna Do (2001)
- Pete Escovedo Live (2003)
- The E Family: Now and Forever (2011)
- Escovedo’s – Oakland, CA
- Mister E.’s – Berkeley, CA
- Mr. E.’s Spotlight on the Square – Alameda, CA
- Pete Escovedo’s Latin Jazz Club – San Jose, CA
- 1983 Jammie Jazz Musician Of The Year
- 1984 Bammie Latin Musician Of The Year
- 1989 Grammy Nomination for Mr. E.
- San Francisco State College Purple Globe Award
- Ronald Dellums Congressional Award
- National Recording Academy Governors Award San Francisco Chapter and
- California Arts and Council Award
- ABC Television Profile of Excellence Award
Even though we must list a part of my father’s history as far as albums and awards that he has received, the most important is that he always does the best that he can. We are not even close to being perfect in this world, but we always try our best as a family. We have our struggles just like everyone else and our own everyday problems that we are faced with. My mother and father never gave up their faith that somehow we would make it through and that God will provide for us. Our future is never promised to us so we as people must do the best that we can for ourselves and then for our family and friends. Never give up on your dreams because that could be the very thing that is keeping you alive. We must have hope, faith, persistence and passion for everything that we do in this life, otherwise what is it worth?