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MORALES, ERACLEO MARIO [ROCKY]

La Musica de San Anto
Mural, La Musica de San Anto by David Blancas, San Antonio, Texas, 2009. The mural is a dedication to San Antonio musical artists who have influenced the culture of the city. Rocky Morales is shown as one of San Antonio's influential male artists, specifically for his influence in the West Side Sound. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

 MORALES, ERACLEO MARIO [ROCKY] (1940–2006). Rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll tenor saxophonist and vocalist Eracleo Mario “Rocky” Morales was born in San Antonio on December 31, 1940. Rocky Morales began playing alto saxophone in junior high and later at Fox Tech High School but switched to tenor saxophone after hearing Clifford Scott play on the song “Honky Tonk.” Other influences included legendary eastside San Antonio tenor saxophone player Spot Barnett, bluesmen Jimmy Reed, and T-Bone Walker. Reed in particular influenced Morales’s style of playing and singing. As one of the founders of the West Side Horns, along with Louis Bustos on saxophone and Charlie McBurney on trumpet, Morales helped develop what has become known as San Antonio’s West Side Sound, a blend of rock-and-roll, swing, rhythm and blues, blues, and conjunto.

Morales frequently collaborated with Doug Sahm during his long and multi-faceted career, beginning with “Why, Why, Why” released by the Harlem label. During the 1970s Morales, Bustos, and McBurney also played with Sahm’s group, the Sir Douglas Quintet. In 1981 Sahm officially christened the group the West Side Horns. From 1990 to 1999, the year Sahm died, Morales played with Sahm’s Grammy-winning Texas Tornados. The two men’s long-standing relationship led some to claim that Morales was the heart and soul of Doug Sahm’s sound. Morales also worked with Augie Meyers for many years, including playing on his recent albums White Boy (2001) and Blame it on Love (2003).

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The West Side Horns has traveled the world, performing in such countries as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Japan, Greece, Switzerland, and Belgium. They have even played at Carnegie Hall. Later members include Spot Barnett, Al Gomez (trumpet), Mike Zeal (bass), Moses Vasquez (drums), Sauce Gonzalez (keyboard), and Little Roger (vocalist). Morales also played with the Markays, Joe & the VIPs, Rudy & the Reno Bops, Joe “King” Carrasco, Lou Ann Barton, Kim Wilson, and Randy Garibay and his Cats Don’t Sleep band. Rocky Morales’s final recording came in 2005, when he appeared with James Hinkle on the album Straight Ahead Blues?

Morales died of lung cancer at University Hospital in San Antonio on August 2, 2006. He was survived by his wife Helen, whom he married in 1959, their daughter and son, as well as his mother Zoila and stepfather Moses Alfaro, Sr., and numerous other relatives. Morales is honored as one of San Antonio’s featured musicians on “La Música de San Anto,” one of the San Anto Cultural Arts murals on the Alamo City’s “”Westside: Murals y Más” Tour.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

All Music Guide (http://www.allmusic.com), accessed November 3, 2011. Austin Chronicle, September 13, 2002. Allen O. Olsen, “San Antonio’s West Side Sound,” The Journal of Texas Music History, Spring 2005. San Antonio Express-News, August 7, 2006. West Side Horns, San Quilmas, (Austin: Dialtone Records, 2003).  

Nicole Lopez

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Nicole Lopez, "Morales, Eracleo Mario [Rocky] ," accessed November 19, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmodc.

Uploaded on June 4, 2015. Modified on August 3, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.