It’s been over half a century, but Spanish band Los Bravos’ “Bring a Little Lovin’” is finally receiving a little lovin' of its own. The song is the only original track by a Latin act on the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and was also one of two featured '60s songs of the film’s first teaser trailer (alongside The Mamas & The Papas’ “Straight Shooter”).
The song, which was originally written by Harry Banda and George Young of the Australian rock group The Easybeats in 1966 for Los Bravos, is one of two songs by a Latin act to help set the ambience of Tarantino's latest. His ninth film also features Jose Feliciano’s version of The Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreaming.”
“Curiously, it was great news, but it didn't surprise me much,” Manolo Díaz, Senior Vice President of the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation (who also composed for Los Bravos), tells Billboard over the phone from Spain. “Los Bravos was the Spanish group that best fit the Anglo-Saxon aesthetic of the 1960s; to be included in the soundtrack made sense.”
The 31-mammoth track listing of the L.A. production, which was revealed on July 26, is an assortment of 1960s classics, with Los Bravos as the true revelation of the Spanish pop-rock music of the time. “The band became the Spanish Rolling Stones of the '60s with their iconic ‘Black Is Black’,” says Díaz, who served as guitarist for the original Spanish band Los Sonor, prior to its evolution into Los Bravos.
“I started playing in bands and also played in Los Sonor in 1961-1962," Diaz recalls. "We were a Beatles-styled band which played instruments and harmonized with voices. We recorded with RCA."
In 1963, Díaz left Los Sonor to embark in a solo career. “I then introduced my friends and bandmates Manuel ‘Monolo’ Fernández (keyboardist) and Antonio ‘Tony’ Martinez (guitarist) to Swiss producer Alain Milhaud, who later became their producer and manager," he says.
The official Los Bravos band became an alliance between members of Mike and the Runawyas and Los Sonor, who met while playing in Mallorca, Spain. “At the end of the summer each group dissolved and a new band, with members from each band, evolved,” Díaz remembers. The new band adopted the same name, Los Sonor, with German Mike Volker Kogel (later named Mike Kennedy) from The Runaways, as the lead singer.
Once the restructured band was solidified, they solicited Díaz to come see them perform at a club in Madrid as doubts of the inclusion of Kennedy arouse. “Mike was a very troublesome man,” Díaz remembers. “He was very talented and sang very well but was a true anarchist. The guys asked me to come listen to them. ‘You have to put up with Mike, he's a great singer and he's going to take you far,’ I remember telling them.”
Los Sonor debuted with a four-track EP, the first single being “No Sé Mi Nombre” (I Don’t Know My Name) in 1966, written by Díaz. The official name of Los Bravos, however, surfaced later when Díaz enlisted Spanish Cadena SER, Spain’s premier radio network, and its show El Gran Musical (which became Los 40 Principales in its second phase), to decide on a name by popular vote.
“So many names were sent!” he remembers. “I had actually come up with the name ‘Los Bravos’ already. I thought that ‘Bravos,’ being a disyllable name, was going to have better resonance. ‘Los Sonor’ have two ‘s’s’ ’together and phonetically it doesn’t sound good, so I had a 17-year old -- she was and actress at the time -- call in and suggest the name.” Soon ‘Los Bravos’ won.
Of the eight songs Díaz composed for Los Bravos, "La Moto" was the one he identified with the most: “It was like a parable, like the milkmaid's story,” he sighs. “I wanted to have a motorcycle, something very much of my generation, but at the end you can’t achieve it due to lack of money. It was like a fable. A song with great force that fit ideally back then.”
In 1966 Los Bravos enjoyed major success around the globe as their debut single, “Black Is Black” hit No. 2 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart, peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and topped the Canadian Singles Chart. Los Bravo’s striking success was a matter of luck: “They were lucky to find a song like ‘Black Is Black’ that nobody wanted to record,” Diaz says. “Mike was a singer who had a very international voice, and that fit the era.”
Although Los Bravos were not able to replicate the success of “Black Is Black,” the Spanish quintet became just one of the few Spanish rock bands with major international recognition. In 1968 the band solidified its mainstream presence with the release of the brassy pop-rock tune “Bring a Little Lovin’,” a song that peaked at No. 51 on the Hot 100. Fifty-one years later, the song recreates the swinging-groovy vibe of the late ‘60s in Tarantino’s latest picture.
Prior to his current position as Senior Vice President of The Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation, Díaz also served as VP, Marketing at CBS Records; President, Sony Music Spain & Portugal; VP, Sony Music Europe, President & CEO Latin America, Polygram; President & CEO Universal Music; and President & CEO, EMI.
Original members of Los Sonor who became Los Bravos met with tragedy: Fernandez, the keyboardist for Los Bravos, committed suicide in 1968 after his pregnant wife died in a car accident with Fernández at the steering wheel. Martínez, the guitarist, died in a motorcycle accident in 1990 at the age of 46.