Skip to main content

Q&A: Steve Berlin of Los Lobos talks 'La Bamba' as Edmonton Oilers' victory anthem


There's no better rally cry than La Bamba.

Many Edmontonians have embraced the tune as the Oilers' victory song thanks to Joey Moss and superfan Ben Stelter.

La Bamba has brought the city together as the Oilers head to Game 6 Friday night and what better way to ring in game day than CTV Morning Live's Kent Morrison chatting with Steve Berlin, the saxophone player of Los Lobos, the band responsible for the unofficial Oilers anthem.

Kent: Thanks so much for joining us. How much is the band aware of the effect this song has had on the city of Edmonton and the Oilers?

Steve Berlin: I would say we're well aware. I'm the only actual hockey fan but I report to everybody what's going on. Certainly with the last couple games there's a new level of engagement, like everywhere else in the sports world. Yeah, we're way into it and we really appreciate it.

Kent: Happy to hear that. How has this song changed your band? I read previously that when you did this in 1987, for the movie about Ritchie Valens. It sort of shifted your careers because it's not the type of music that you're necessarily playing before or after. What's the relationship with the band with this song?

Steve Berlin: We've been friends with Ritchie's family forever. In our early days before anybody outside of California knew about us, we would play in an area of California called Watsonville. We would play up there quite a bit. So we got to know them when we became very close.

Then, in '84 or '85, they said, "Hey, we sold the rights to Ritchie's story, but the only stipulation was that you guys have to do the music," which, obviously, was a huge honor, we were very appreciative. Then the movie is being made and, you know, one of the things that I think it's kind of interesting to look back on is when we were doing the movie, nobody, and I mean, nobody thought the movie was going to be successful. It was a bunch of first-time actors, first time director – nobody had ever heard of anybody involved in the movie at all. There was no there were no stars, Lou Diamond Phillips was a guy doing dinner theater in San Antonio.

It wasn't like we cashed a winning lottery ticket. We were honoured to be there but at no time during the making of the movie did we think "Oh, this is going to be an international number one hit," and obviously it changed a lot of people's lives, including our own. So the whole thing was kind of a magical ride, to say the least.

It's definitely changed our lives. We were extremely happy and extremely gratified to be part of this story and your story. The song is somewhat magical, as we've learned.

Kent: The magic certainly sprinkled around Edmonton for the last couple of years with many different involvements with Joey Moss and Ben Stelter. At what point did the band become aware that the Oilers were doing this and it became such a hit here.

Steve Berlin: A friend of mine texted me last season, I think that's when the hubbub was really starting. That's when we really became aware of it. We've been way into it ever since. I mean, that story is so heartwarming. It's just feel-good all the way around. It's all just really exciting, especially this year. We're happy to be there.

Kent: Now, at one point, you said you'd come to Edmonton if the team wins the Stanley Cup. Are you going to do that?

Steve Berlin: We are working on it. Obviously, there's a lot of space between here and there. So we're going to do our best is all I can say at this point we have. We're working on it from both sides. We're gonna see what happens. We hope so.

Kent: We hope so, too. We would love to celebrate the Stanley Cup with you and that song. Thanks so much for being so gracious with that song and sharing it with all of us. It certainly has been a magical anthem around here. We appreciate it and we're looking forward to seeing you in Edmonton.

Steve Berlin: We want to hear it again tonight darling.

Kent: We absolutely do. Thank you so much. Can't wait to play La Bamba, baby.

The Edmonton Oilers face-off against the Panthers tonight at 6 p.m. at Rogers Place.

Time to cue up La Bamba on repeat.