Local musicians are mourning the loss of longtime Fresno guitarist Allen Rodriguez, who died on Saturday at the age of 57. Rodriguez was part of a community of musicians that started playing in the area in the late 1970s and produced bands like Gang’s Back.
Fresno was a little smaller of a place back then, and Arturo Aldana remembers everyone getting together for jam sessions at Kearney or Roeding park. “Until they threw us out,” says Aldana, who started playing music in 1971, mostly because of Rodriguez. The two remained friends throughout the years. He remembers Rodriguez as a talented guitar player who was well liked by many. “We was always working, always playing in bands,” Aldana says. In fact, he was in the middle of a gig Saturday, when he started feeling ill.
“Who he was was defined by his music,” says Rodriguez’ son, Adrian Rodriguez. He knew the man mostly as a father, but often got to watch him perform and even joined in for a time, playing the congas. Rodriguez’ world was the music scene and his absence is being felt by many, Adrian says.
To honor Rodriguez’ memory and influence, Aldana and others are putting together a jam session 2 p.m. Friday at the American Legion Post 509 (3509 N. First St.) and welcome those who knew him to participate.
Here is a video of a young Rodriguez that’s being passed around. It encapsulates Rodriguez’ performing style.