Juan de la Cruz Band guitarist Wally Gonzalez dies at 71

Wally Gonzalez, guitarist of the legendary Filipino rock group Juan de la Cruz Band, died on Friday, July 23. He was 71.

John Gonzalez confirmed his father's death in a Facebook post saying that Wally “passed away peacefully in his sleep earlier this morning.”

He said that they will be arranging a short wake for Wally’s friends post-cremation.

Known as “the quiet Juan,” Wally formed the Juan de la Cruz Band in 1968, along with drummer Edmund Fortuno. After its initial success, the original band split up, with Edmund and other members forming the Anak Bayan band.

The guitarist would eventually reconvene the band as it is remembered today: a power trio with Mike Hanopol on bass and the late Joey “Pepe” Smith on lead vocals and drums.

The band would go on to release songs such as “Himig Natin,” “Beep Beep,” “Titser’s Enemy No. 1” and “Rock and Roll sa Ulan,” which have all become part of the OPM canon.

As a solo artist, Wally released the albums Tunog Pinoy (1977) and On The Road (1978). The latter contained what would become the guitarist’s trademark song, the four-and-a-half-minute long instrumental track, “Wally’s Blues.”

In 1988, Wally left the music scene and took on corporate jobs, playing only once over the span of 10 years, until he performed in a reunion concert with his Juan de la Cruz bandmates. 

He jumped back into the music scene after retiring from the corporate world in 2002, performing again with Pepe and Mike, and later forming the group Wally and Friends.

He had been beset with health issues in recent years, undergoing colon surgery in 2018, and suffering a stroke in January. – Rappler.com