Mexican guitar legend Javier Batiz, who mentored Carlos Santana, tears up at 77: “I want to die on stage!”


Mexican rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Javier Bátiz believes divine intervention led him to start playing the guitar in 1956 at the age of 12, shortly before launching his groundbreaking band from Tijuana, Los TJ’s. Now, at 77 and 17, Bátiz cites the same greatest strength for his longevity.

“What keeps me going is the blessing of God, who gave me the talent and the energy to keep going because no one is stopping me from being who I am,” the veteran musician said. , who performs with his current band on Sunday at Winstons in Ocean. Beach.

Divine or not, Bátiz’s impact over the decades has been tremendous for many listeners in Mexico – and for the range of remarkable musicians he has mentored. The latter group includes Canned Heat drummer Fito de la Parra (who is scheduled to attend Sunday’s show at Winstons), bassist great Abraham Laboriel and a guitarist named Carlos Santana.

“I knew I was going to be a musician from an early age in Tijuana, where I saw Javier Bátiz,” Santana recalled in a 2013 Union-Tribune interview.

“A lot of people in Tijuana reading this will be really happy to see him get credit. He sounded like Little Richard and played guitar like BB King. There were a lot of other Tijuana guitar players with that sound, but when I heard it, I knew I would be a musician for the rest of my life.

Speaking on the phone recently from the home in Tijuana where he was born and still lives, Bátiz laughed with delight when Santana’s quote was read to him.

“It’s my little brother, it’s Carlos!” he said, even though his interviewer hadn’t yet identified Santana as the source of the quote.

“Carlos took my music, my way of playing, all over the world and became very famous and accepted. I’m so blessed that he did.

The Tijuana History Museum is just one of the museums in Mexico to feature the city’s pioneering rock guitarist and singer, Javier Bátiz.

(Tania Navarro/San Diego Union-Tribune Español)

“The guitar is like my third arm”

Santana began taking guitar lessons with Bátiz when he was 12, and later became the bassist for Los TJ’s. In the 1960s, Santana moved to San Francisco, while his mentor, Bátiz, moved to Mexico City.

Santana’s rise to international stardom is as well documented as Batiz’s continued status as “the father of Mexican rock ‘n’ roll”.

A work commitment prevented Bátiz from performing at Avándaro, the 1971 festival billed as Mexico’s Woodstock. But his career has been documented in books and honored in museum exhibits. The street Bátiz lives in Tijuana bears his name.

“My life is centered around my guitars, my wife and I,” said Batiz, whose latest band sometimes features his 32-year-old wife Claudia on drums. “I play every night and the guitar is like my third arm.”

Bátiz and his wife, Claudia Madrid, both contracted COVID-19 last year, he said, despite being vaccinated.

“It was sweet,” recalls Bátiz. “But the pandemic has been great for us – we spent a year and a half together in our house.”

As he has been doing for decades in the same house in Tijuana, Bátiz is once again giving guitar lessons. It currently has about 14 students. They are between 7 and 22 years old.

“I teach them to play the blues,” Bátiz said simply.

Proceeds from his Sunday concert in Winstons will benefit deported U.S. military veterans who live in Tijuana but cannot return to that country for various legal reasons.

“They were kicked out of the United States because they didn’t have the right papers or whatever,” Bátiz said. “They went to war as American soldiers, came back and were deported. So we try to help them.

Will this tireless guitarist ever retire?

“I don’t think so,” said his wife, Claudia Madrid. “If he doesn’t play, he will die. He always told me he wanted to die, on stage, playing his guitar.

Batiz accepted.

“In a month, I’ll be 78. But if you see me, I look like I’m 39,” he said.

“I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke, I eat very healthy and I don’t like going to bars or football matches. I play music, eat well, and watch TV with my wife, kids, and grandkids.

“When I play music, I sing, I shout and I take you to Mars. I’m so in love with the music that I don’t want to miss a second of it. I want to die on stage!

Javier Bátiz, with Sol Sacrifice

When: 4 p.m. Sunday

Or: Winstons Beach Club, 1921 Bacon Street, Ocean Beach

Tickets: $20 (must be 21 or older to participate)

Call: (619) 222-6822

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