Ramon Martinez (1906–1950) or Don Ramon as he was commonly known, was a Latin Music pioneer in Oakland. Born in Winslow, Arizona of Basque, Mexican and Navajo ancestry, Ramon Martinez moved to Oakland sometime in the mid-1920s. He organized one of the first Latin/Mexican Music groups, who called themselves Los Caballeros. The group was popular in West Oakland where the majority of Mexicans and Latinos lived at the time. Ramon Martinez started one of the first Spanish-language radio shows in Oakland and the Bay Area called the South American Way, which was broadcast on KLX from the Oakland Tribune tower. His show was popular with the local Mexican and Latin community.
Don Ramon Martinez was also an amateur boxer, but quit in 1933 after sustaining a liver injury from which he would never fully recover. Ramon Martinez was also responsible for organizing one of the first City-sponsored Cinco de Mayo festivals, held at the Oakland Auditorium (now the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center) in 1946. Ramon Martinez was also a veteran, entering service (US Army) during World War I at the age of 16, and serving again in World War II with the Merchant Marines while he was in his late 30's. Ramon Martinez died of liver failure in 1950 at the age of 44.
Ramon Martinez also had a son out of wedlock, Edmundo Manuel Tostado Martinez. ‘Don Tosti’ was also a Chicano Latin music pioneer, a jazz musician who became popular during the Zoot Suit/Pachuco era because his music was about Pachucos and used Chicano slang combined with jazz and swing beats. Don Tosti passed away in 2004.
Links and References
- Marilyn Rose Martinez Tulley Wood obituary - obituary of his daughter
- http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_9156022?source=most_viewed - Article from the Oakland Tribune from 2008