The Caliente Column

La Mafia: Un Millon de Rosas
By Doug Shannon (

La Mafia is showcasing a new look and playing a fresh batch of hits on its
1996 "Un Millon de Rosas" tour, named after their latest album, released in
January on Sony Discos.

Oscar de la Rosa, La Mafia's soft-spoken lead singer, no longer wears his
trademark hat and the group's style of dress has gotten classier, he said.

"When I started wearing the hat it was just for fun," he said. "But I think
some people just took it a little too far and it got to the point where
people would see me with the hat and that's the only way they would recognize

People are getting used to seeing him without the hat, but he said that
someday he'll probably start wearing it again because he likes it.

In addition to the more upscale look, the group's style has changed, said
Mando Lichtenberger, Jr., the group's keyboardist, accordionist and producer.

The cumbias on their hit albums "Estas Tocando Fuego," (1991) "Ahora y
Siempre" (1992) and "Vida" (1994) featured a metallic, pulsating bass sound,
he said.

But starting with the cumbia muy movida "Nadie" from the 1995 live album
"Exitos En Vivo" and continuing with the cumbias from their new album, such
as "Yo Me Morire," the group has dedicated itself to a more energetic rhythm,
Mando said.

Some people have compared the unique synthesizer bass sound on "Un Millon de
Rosas" to the snapping of a gigantic rubber band. Mando said the idea was to
give the song a 1970s funk flavor, a flavor found in songs from artists like

The other notable change to La Mafia is their new bass player, Tim Ruiz.
He's only 19 and the ladies go crazy for him. He has a weight set in the back
of the tour bus and he's even rumored to own an Ab Roller to keep himself in
shape. He also happens to play excellent bass and has experience with jazz
and rock bands. The former bass player, Rudy Martinez, has reportedly joined
Chris Perez and some other musicians to form a rock en espan~ol group.

La Mafia's latest big hit is "Mejores Que Ella," in which Oscar dueted with
the Puerto Rican salsero Marc Anthony. The result was a fantastic ballad whose
popularity culminated in a weeklong series of sold-out shows in Puerto Rico
this summer featuring both acts.

Oscar said that although Marc is a salsero, they got along just fine.

"Marc Anthony is a great person," he said. "We got to talk about the different
styles of music that we have."

Since Marc and La Mafia generally don't tour together, David de la Garza teams
up with Oscar on vocals when the group performs "Mejores Que Ella" on the

Oscar said the band is going to continue promoting its current album until
1997. Next year they will start work on a new album, but they don't even know
if it will be in English or Spanish yet, he said.

While fans can't get enough of La Mafia's latest albums, fans can't get La
Mafia's classic early 80s releases at all unless they search mom-and-pop
record stores and flea markets with a fine-toothed comb, Oscar said.

Other recent projects for the band include Oscar's duet with LOS PALOMINOS,
"Ya No Existe," from their new album "Duele El Amor." In addition, the group's
two keyboardists, Mando and David de la Garza, just produced the first album
by Tejano singer CARLITO. His first single "Necesitandote" debuted at #21 on
the Antenna Magazine Tejano chart in August.

La Mafia is also the first group in its genre to start its own web page.
Mando said though he didn't write the html code for the page, he was involved
in the page design. He added that the group members really do get the messages
that fans send to them via the webpage and do their best to respond to all
questions. He said that the page, which had received over 10,000 hits by Labor
Day, was rushed to the Web before all of its sections were ready so that the
html address could be printed in the liner notes of "Un Millon De Rosas."

La Mafia is: Oscar de la Rosa, vocals; Leonard de la Rosa Gonzales, guitar;
Tim Ruiz, bass; David de la Garza, keyboards; Michael Aguilar, drums and
percussion; and Mando Lichtenberger, Jr., keyboards and accordion. Road
manager Saul Rodriguez, from Monterrey, helps keep the tour rolling along