January 8, 2002 6:36 PM   Subscribe

¡Esquivel! is gone. Juan Garcia Esquivel, Godfather of Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music, Avatar of Wildly Panning Hi-Fi Stereo Effects, and Owner of the World's Geekiest Pair of Glasses, died last Thursday, due to complications from a stroke, at his home in Juitepec, Morelos, Mexico. He was 83 years old. (more inside)
posted by MrBaliHai (23 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry, no official obit yet, but word is that Irwin Chusid has written one for the NYT which should be published shortly. In the interim, here's a brief eulogy for the man written by Brother Cleve, former keyboardist of the band Combustible Edison:

"On a postive note, at least Esquivel lived long enough to see his work rediscovered and appreciated by a new audience around the world. After being bedridden for close to 10 years due to a back injury, he thought of himself as a forgotten man, but the 1994 release of "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music" changed all that, and the last 7 years of his life were quite joyous. I can remember the look on his face when he'd be getting calls from, say, Rolling Stone or the New York Times, or when I showed him Joe Holmes' Space Age Bachelor Pad website - everything was so exciting he was completely revitilized [It also gave him the opportunity to exude his impeccable charm on a great number of female reporters]. Unfortunately, his health continued to fail, although through therapy he was able to get out of bed for the first time in years and get into a wheelchair for short periods of the day.

It's a shame he didn't live long enough to see the proposed film story of his life made, although I doubt he would have been happy with the emphasis on the more sordid elements of his life. For Juan, it just all about the music, and that's what we can be thankful for today - the incredible imagination, style, humor and life found in the body of work he's left for us to enjoy."
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:40 PM on January 8, 2002

this man was my hero, and i barely knew of him.
posted by moz at 6:49 PM on January 8, 2002

great post MrBaliHat. Many bands are indebted to Esquivel, with Combustible Edison and Fila Brazillia being just two.
posted by machaus at 6:49 PM on January 8, 2002

oops, sorry for butchering your logon...
posted by machaus at 6:53 PM on January 8, 2002

Damn. That caught me by surprise. I feel guilty for knowing so little about a man who has brought me so much pleasure. I'm ashamed to say I thought he was much younger. Perhaps he was.

Thanks too, MrBaliHai. Is it stupid to think the only obituaries which make sense to me are the collections of spontaneous, unforced and sincere posts we get here on MetaFilter?

That man was so crazy and cool. Friends of mine made fun of him but they loved him just as much as me.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:57 PM on January 8, 2002

Now's my chance! Does anyone know the actual name for the upside-down explanation point used in Spanish (as in the this FPP)? I've been idly wondering about this for years. It's got to have a name, right?
posted by Sinner at 7:06 PM on January 8, 2002

What a bummer of a day. First Dave Thomas and Now Esquivel. One man proved that fast-food dosen't have to be shitty and the other proved that if you are truly unique and stick to your guns, the world will catch up to you. So I'm gonna order a Monterey Ranch Chicken sandwich, put on Esquivel's version of "Sentimental Journey" and mourn. :(
posted by jonmc at 7:23 PM on January 8, 2002

My darling fiance never understood my love for Esquivel, but Simpsons creator Matt Groening did. To quote from his blurb on the Space-age Bachelor Pad Music album: "Esquivel is the great unsung genius of mind-curdling space age pop."
posted by ColdChef at 7:23 PM on January 8, 2002

Way to hijack a dead man's thread, Sinner...[grin]

It's called the principio de exclamación (first exclamation)
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:25 PM on January 8, 2002

and the Doritos guy yesterday...
posted by machaus at 7:31 PM on January 8, 2002

MrBaliHai (and moreso Mr. Esquivel),

My sincere apologies for that - I actually thought of writing an apology, but decided it better to simply let it go unnoticed. Thanks for your response either way.

Carry on people. Nothing to see here. Move along.
posted by Sinner at 7:41 PM on January 8, 2002

He will be missed....The Space Age Bachelor Pad has been a staple for many of my amateur Christmas card mixes. I respect and honor him for his subtle genius.
posted by Benway at 8:12 PM on January 8, 2002

Fare thee well, Esquivel. The world spins a little bit slower tonight.

posted by sharksandwich at 8:22 PM on January 8, 2002

Rest in peace, baby.
posted by jpoulos at 9:20 PM on January 8, 2002

Thanks for this post.
posted by donovan at 10:23 PM on January 8, 2002

he rocked the house. made you feel like you were the only one in the world who could possibly appreciate his cool reparté...
posted by babychet at 10:26 PM on January 8, 2002

damn. Another of the greats gone. Zu-zu-zu-zu!
posted by black8 at 12:06 AM on January 9, 2002

Tonight, I went to a friends, made martinis and toasted Esquivel as we danced to his music. I came home and found this. Thank you, Mr. BaliHai. I am sure you have a great BaliHat.
posted by colt45 at 12:12 AM on January 9, 2002

Boink! Boink!

He'll be sadly missed.
posted by drgonzo at 4:50 AM on January 9, 2002

Here's the text of Irwin Chusid's obituary:


Juan Garcia Esquivel, celebrated pianist, composer, bandleader, stereo recording pioneer, and glamorous Space Age Bachelor Pad Music icon, died at his home in Jiutepec, Morelos, Mexico, on January 3, 2002. He was 83.

The death was reported by his widow, Carina Osorio vda. de Garcia, and by his son, Mario Eddi Garcia Servin, of Taxco. According to a longtime friend, Steve Reed, of Los Angeles, three months ago Esquivel suffered a stroke, which had left him paralyzed on one side and unable to speak. He recovered in a short time, but suffered a second, more severe stroke on Dec. 30. He died four days later.

Esquivel was born on January 20, 1918, in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico. He was a renowned pianist/bandleader in his native country, garnering much acclaim on stage, television and radio. He starred in and scored two films, "Cabaret Tragico" and "La Locura de Rock'n'Roll," before being brought to the U.S. by RCA Victor Records in 1957. Working primarily in Hollywood, New York, and Las Vegas, the suave maestro recorded prolifically, led an explosive big band, and scored for several TV programs. His elegant, idiosyncratic, and very meticulous arrangements were colored by radical dynamic shifts, playful percussion, wordless vocals, and Esquivel's own virtuoso keyboard runs. When it came to recording sessions, he was notorious for budget-busting extravagance. His offstage life was filled with celebrity hobnobbing (e.g., Sinatra, Liberace, Ernie Kovacs), romantic intrigue (he embodied the charming Latin Lothario mystique), and unfortunate bouts of drinking and prescription drug abuse that eventually curtailed his success.

Many of Esquivel's saucy compositions, such as "Mucha Muchacha," "Whatchamacallit," "Latin-Esque," and "Mini Skirt," have come to symbolize the wild hyper-stereo orchestration of the 1950s and '60s. Ironically, his most familiar composition -- and one for which he is little known -- is the "Universal Emblem," a three-second blast of Wagnerian thunder which has for decades accompanied the Universal Studios logo at the conclusion of hundreds of television programs.

"Space Age Bachelor Pad Music," a 1994 Bar/None Records compilation of Esquivel's 1950s-'60s RCA Victor recordings, sparked a resurgence of interest in his work. Simpsons creator Matt Groening declared Esquivel "the great unsung genius of space age pop." Subsequent releases, such as "Music From a Sparkling Planet" (1995, Bar/None), "Cabaret Mañana" (1996, BMG), and the 40-years-locked-in-the-can "See It In Sound" (1999, 7N), launched his vintage recordings into wide circulation on TV, in films and commercials, and as background music in restaurants, lounges, and stores. Several of his compositions have been used in the soundtracks of major Hollywood films, including "The Big Lebowski," "Four Rooms," and "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America." His riffs have been widely sampled and emulated by audio mixologists and turntable wizards worldwide.

The Kronos Quartet recently commissioned and performed a string arrangement of Esquivel's 1967 composition "Mini Skirt." The original handwritten scores for his 24-piece orchestra no longer exist, having reportedly been hauled away as trash years ago when rent was in arrears on a Las Vegas storage facility.

Though he was an American citizen, Esquivel moved back to Mexico in the 1980s. For the Televisa network, he composed soundtracks for a children's TV program, entitled "Burbujas" ("Bubbles"). He was inactive in the music business during the 1990s, due to a broken hip and an aggravated spinal injury which left him bedridden and unable to walk. He lived at the home of his older brother, Sergio, in Jiutepec, until Sergio's death in 1999. Esquivel then bought and moved to a home in Villas del Descanso, also in Jiutepec.

In May 2001, Esquivel married 25-year-old Carina Osorio, who had assisted the ailing legend as a home health care aide for several years. They were wed in a simple ceremony administered by a justice of the peace at Esquivel's home. Esquivel claimed that Carina was his sixth wife. He had
married and divorced twice while residing in the United States. He described Carina as "a simple girl, who is attentive and honest," adding, "I am very happy, and she is too. We both stay up until 2:00 in the morning, and she helps me. Our house is not too big, not too small. Just for the two of us, it is nice. It has a nice garden."

A film biography about the Space Age Pop avatar is in script development at Fox studios, with John Leguizamo slated to star and Alexander Payne signed to direct.

Per his wishes, Esquivel's remains were cremated, and his ashes were returned home with Carina.

-- Irwin Chusid 1/8/02
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:08 AM on January 9, 2002

John Leguizamo? That sounds so... so... right somehow. Anyway, I raise a strangly fruity yet curiously strong alcoholic beverage in Esquivel's honor.
posted by zedzebedia at 6:57 AM on January 9, 2002

muchas muchacho... muchas gracias.

he was the man.
posted by modge at 8:47 AM on January 9, 2002

The word genius seems to get tossed around a lot these days, but Juan Garcia Esquivel was the real thing. His compositions and arrangements still blow me away. Check out "Four Corners of the World", on which he plays classic tunes with a quintet. On top of being a great arranger and composer, he was an astounding pianist.
posted by Ty Webb at 9:36 AM on January 9, 2002

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