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Members include Rodrigo Aboitiz (original member; left group, 1991; re-joined group, 1994), keyboards; Shia Arbulu (original member; heard on 1987 mini-album), vocals; Andrés Bobe (original member; died on April 10, 1994, in Santiago, Chile), guitar, keyboards, composing; Mauricio Claveria(joined group, c. 1989), drums, percussion; Alberto "Beto" Cuevas (joined group, c. 1989), lead vocals, lyrics; J. C. Cumplido(joined group, 1998), bass; Pedro "Archi" Frugone (joined group, 1994), guitar; Luciano Andrés Rojas (left group, 1998), bass. Addresses: Record company--Warner Music Mexico, SA, de C.V., P.O. Box 7-1238, Mexico City, Mexico 7, D.F. Website--La Ley Official Website: http://www.laleyweb.com.ar.
The world of rock españoltook a highbrow turn with the evolution of a Chilean ensemble called La Ley in the late 1980s. This group (whose name means "the law") originated as a trio, initially featuring keyboard, guitar, and vocals. A bass player and a new vocalist joined the group within two years, and the turnover proved to be only the first in a succession of new iterations of La Ley that transpired throughout the 1990s. The band regenerated persistently as a result of members who quit or were rehired, as well as management shifts. In 1994, the untimely death of La Ley founder and songwriter Andrés Bobe created a more serious quandary for the surviving group members, yet La Ley maintained a dynamic stance in the face of continual tribulation. Even as random group members continued to shift allegiance, the band likewise withstood an international relocation of its home base from Chile to Mexico in 1996. At that time, La Ley diverged into techno-rock and emerged as a stronger presence still in the international music arena. Mainstream music organizations recognized the band's hard-earned efforts and showered awards on the group. Not only had the band released a series of hit albums during its initial decade together, but its songs also generated a keen intellectual awareness and provocative attitude.
La Ley originated in Santiago, Chile, in 1987 under the guidance of Bobe. He collaborated initially with vocalist Shia Arbulu of Spain and Rodrigo Aboitiz on keyboards to create an experimental recording. Positive feedback from that album inspired Bobe to expand La Ley into a quintet and subsequently to release an independently produced full-length debut album called Desiertos in 1989. The expanded personnel lineup on Desiertos included a new lead vocalist, Alberto "Beto" Cuevas. Also heard on that album were drummer Mauricio Claveria and bassist Luciano Andrés Rojas. The album featured two hit singles, "Desiertos" and "Que Va a Suceder," and brought La Ley to local prominence.
Ironically, the album's independent producer recalled Desiertos--even as it picked up momentum in the marketplace--due to a dispute that ultimately led to severed relations between La Ley and management. Soon after the managerial split, La Ley released a music video, which effectively helped to maintain La Ley's media presence and contributed to the group's rising popularity. The band received an invitation to perform at the prestigious Viña del Mar Festival in 1991, and a follow-up release appeared on Capitol Records in 1991. The Capitol release, Doble Opuesto, met with a receptive Chilean audience and brought the band recognition in Latin America beyond its native Chile; La Ley fans emerged in both Mexico and Argentina. Desiertos meanwhile remained in metaphorical mothballs and resurfaced as a rare cult classic some years later as the band came to international attention.
There followed for La Ley a string of discouraging happenstance involving personnel turnovers, legal wrangling, and even death, beginning with the departure of Aboitiz, who quit the band shortly before the release of Doble Opuesto. The band continued successfully nonetheless, and released its self-titled La Leyalbum on Philips Records in 1993. La Leywas distributed internationally, and a hit video from that album, "Tejedores de Ilusion," earned a nomination from MTV for Best Latin Video. La Ley accepted an invitation for a return appearance at Viña del Mar in 1994.
As Mexicans and Argentineans joined the ranks of La Ley fans in the wake of the band's early albums in the 1990s, La Ley was in the midst of mounting success when tragedy struck. In 1994, Bobe died in a motorcycle accident, an event that brought the group to a major crossroad. It was Cuevas who ultimately figured most prominently in the group as it weathered the disaster. He assumed the dual function of bandleader and spokesperson, steering the band through the catastrophe. Some months passed before the band regenerated in the form of a quintet once again, featuring Cuevas, Rojas, and Claveria. The members brought in a new guitarist, Pedro Frugone, and La Ley's former keyboard player, Aboitiz, rejoined the group at that time.
Soon after the resurrection of La Ley, the band, under the guidance of Chilean producer Humberto Gatica, traveled to the Record Plant studio in Los Angeles, California, to record a new album, Invisible.The recording, a tribute to Bobe, featured an eclectic selection of tracks, ranging from acoustic to hard rock selections, and served to emphasize the band's versatility. Upon their return to Chile, however, the group encountered daunting legal snafus both with its distributor, PolyGram, and with Bobe's family, regarding the copyrights to his compositions. An out-of-court settlement ensued, resulting in the demise of La Ley's relationship with PolyGram.
The band remained in Santiago and signed a contract with Warner Music Mexico, which in turn released Invisible in 1995. In September of that year, La Ley undertook a tour of Mexico, taped a segment of House of Blues for TBS, and made a subsequent stop in Buenos Aires on the Chilean-Argentinean border. Soon afterward, during a Chilean tour, the band announced a pending relocation to Mexico City, a move that was complete in 1996. Invisible, having realized 40,000 units sold by that time, had well surpassed the platinum level (25,000 units) in Chile, with European releases scheduled for England, France, Germany, and Spain.
For three years after moving to Mexico City, La Ley worked under the direction of manager Julio Galman of Argentina. With Galman as manager, La Ley released two albums by the end of the decade. In search of an explosive new sound, La Ley turned to a modern, avant-garde, techno sound. The band traveled to New York City to produce and record a new album called Vertigo, which appeared in 1998. It was the band's fifth release. The album, with its haunting "Guerrillero" track and assorted reflections on urban chaos, was billed as a concept album, according to Cuevas. A commentary in Hispanic praised the La Ley musicians and described their output as "visionary." A promotional tour ensued, during which the band lost its bass player, Rojas, who quit the group after ten years of participation. A replacement musician, J. C. Cumplido, was called in to complete the tour, after which La Ley reverted to a foursome. A follow-up album, called Uno, was recorded in Los Angeles, produced by Gatica, and released on WEA in 1999. Unomet with particular success and won several awards.
In April of 2000, the members of La Ley were honored to appear at the eleventh-annual Billboard International Latin Music Conference in Miami, Florida. La Ley--minus keyboard player Aboitiz at that time--appeared on the bill as a trio including Claveria, Cuevas and Frugone. The event is renowned for its history of catapulting Latin artists further into the media spotlight. In 2000 La Ley shared the program with other popular stars including Los Lobos and Charlie Bravo. La Ley toured extensively for the duration of 2000 and into 2001 in promotional efforts for Uno. Appearances included a Central Park concert in August of 2000, which served as a promotional opening attraction for the first annual Latin Alternative Music Conference. Jon Pareles in the New York Times compared La Ley's headline performance in Central Park to Depeche Mode and likened Frugone's guitar styles to those of Irish band U2.
In July of 2000, Uno received four nominations at the Latin Grammy Awards; the categories were Best Rock Song, Best Rock Album, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with vocal, and Best Video. At the mainstream Grammy Award ceremonies in March of 2001, the Recording Academy honored La Ley with the award for Best Latin/Rock Alternative Album for Uno.
by Gloria Cooksey
La Ley's Career
Formed as a trio in Chile, 1987; recorded first "mini-album," 1987; released first full-length album produced independently as a quintet, 1989; major label debut on Capitol Records, 1991; toured Chile, 1991; performed at Viña del Mar Festival, 1991, 1994, 1995; First Latin Rock Meet, Puerto Rico, 1995; Latin American tour, 1996.
La Ley's Awards
Best Rock Group, Revista Eresmagazine,1997; Best Song for "Dia Cero," Nuestro Rockmagazine, 1997; Grammy Award, Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album for Uno, 2001.
- Selected discography
- Desiertos (independent release), 1989.
- Doble Opuesto Capitol, 1991.
- La Ley Philips, 1993.
- Doble Opuesto PolyGram, 1993.
- Invisible WEA Latina, 1995.
- (Contributor) Red Hot + Latin: Silencio=Muerte PolyGram Latino, 1989.
- Vertigo WEA Latina, 1998.
- Los Clasicos del Rock en Espanol (compilation), PolyGram, 1998.
- Uno WEA Latina, 2000.
November 30, 2004: La Ley's album, Historia E Historia, was released. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_3/index.jsp, December 2, 2004.
- Billboard,April 30, 1994, p. 32; August 5, 1995, p. 34; September 2, 1995, p. 72; December 9, 1995, p. 36; April 29, 2000, p. LM-10; November 11, 2000, p. 47; March 24, 2001, p. 44.
- Hispanic,July-August 1998, p. 98.
- New York Times,August 6, 2000, p. 2.
- "La Ley," All Music Guide,http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=Bjmkxu3y5an4k (April 19, 2001).
- "La Ley," Eritmo.com, http://www2.eritmo.com/eritmoclubs/laley/biography.htm (April 19, 2001).
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