March 4, 2010 – Candido Lolly Vegas (Redbone) was born Lolly Vasquez in Coalinga, California on October 2, 1939. He grew up in Fresno. He and his brother Pat, a singer and bassist, were session musicians who performed together as Pat and Lolly Vegas in the 1960s at Sunset Strip clubs and on the TV variety show “Shindig!”
Patrick and Lolly Vasquez – Vegas were a mixture of Yaqui, Shoshone and Mexican heritage. but began by performing and recording surf music as the Vegas Brothers, “because their agent told them that the world was not yet ready to embrace a duo of Mexican musicians playing surfing music”. First as the Vegas Brothers (Pat and Lolly Vegas), then later as the Crazy Cajun Cakewalk Band, they performed throughout the 1960s.
They formed the Native American band Redbone in 1969, Redbone being a Cajun word for ‘half-breed’. The band, with members of Latino and native American origin, released its self-titled debut album the following year. The band first gained notice with “Maggie” in 1970 and broke international barriers with “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” in 1971.
“Come and Get Your Love” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1974. In concert, Redbone often dressed in traditional Native American attire, and some of the group’s songs, including “We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee,” emphasizing the members’ Indian background. Lolly and Pat also were prolific songwriters whose “Niki Hoeky” was covered by Aretha Franklin, Bobbie Gentry and P.J. Proby.
In the 60s, Lolly was an in-demand studio musician in Hollywood, playing alongside Leon Russell, Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine, and all the top players of the day. Lolly played on many hit records and was frequently hired by great producers such as Phil Spector and Lou Adler for stars such as Tina Turner, Sonny & Cher, James Brown, Little Richard, Elvis, and other legendary names.
His guitar playing on Redbone recordings is innovative, funky, and unique. Lolly was one of the first to play his guitar through a Leslie Speakerbox and his use of the electric sitar on Redbone’s mega hit “Come and Get Your Love” was brilliant. He inspired and influenced many guitar players over the years.
In 1973, Redbone released the politically oriented “We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee”, recalling the massacre of Lakota Sioux Indians by the Seventh Cavalry in 1890. The song ends with the subtly altered sentence “We were all wounded ‘by’ Wounded Knee”. It charted in several European countries and reached the #1 position in The Netherlands but did not chart in the U.S.(really???), where it was initially withheld from release due to lyrical controversy and then banned by several radio stations due to its confrontation of a sore subject.
In 1995 Lolly suffered a stroke, leaving him unable to play guitar anymore. He died after a brave battle with lung cancer at age on March 4, 2010 at age 70.
Redbone is known and accredited in the NY Smithsonian as the first Native American rock/cajun group to have a #1 single internationally and in the United States.