“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Rudy Salas, the leader and co-founder of Tierra, early this morning,” the group posted on Facebook on Tuesday. “We have lost our rock, our creative spirit, husband, father, grandfather (and soon to be great-grandfather), uncle, brother and leader of Tierra whose history spans nearly 5 decades. Millions have enjoyed Tierra’s music and we are deeply grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and family.”
In 1972, Salas played guitar for El Chicano along with his brother Steve Salas, who was a vocalist. The next year, the two brother co-founded Tierra with original members Bobby Navarrete, Joey Guerra, Steve Falomir, Philip Madayag and Andre Baeza. The group recorded their first self-titled album that year and then went on to publish 14 more records, the most recent being in 2017.
Tierra’s biggest hit came with the 1980 remake of The Intruders’ song “Together,” originally from 1967, which went on to reach No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 9 on the Billboard R&B chart. The group was still touring up until the coronavirus pandemic shut down most of the live music industry.
“Because of the pandemic, we cannot immediately announce funeral arrangements but we will keep you informed in the future,” Tierra and the Salas family wrote. “In the meantime, please respect the privacy of the family and band members as we grieve. Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts in this difficult time.”