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Popular musician’s legacy celebrated

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Mike Torres has not only been a popular bank leader but also teaches young people to play the guitar.

Photos contributed/

POSTED August 23, 2015 5:53 p.m.

Special to the Bulletin

Mike Torres has spent the better part of his life celebrating others through his music.

The tables were turned as Mike Torres’ 80 years of life and legacy were celebrated earlier this month in Stockton. Family, friends and musicians toasted Mike as well as enjoyed music by ‘El Mariachi Los Jilgueros’ and ‘The Mike Torres Band’.

Born in Urequio, Michoacán, Mexico, Mike had to endure the violent death of his father, Jose, when he was 7 years old and shortly after, separation from his mother, Lupe, as she made her way to the United States to find a way to care for her family. A few years later, Lupe returned to Urequio to gather her children to start their new life in the United States with Juan Lucio, their stepfather. The family arrived to Central California and began to work the crops up and down the state and eventually settled in Banta, CA. Mike was a product of Banta School and Tracy High School where he was also a boxer winning the Tracy High School Championship in 1954 and became the Most Outstanding Boxer of the Year and fought for the Golden Gloves Boxing Championship in 1955.

After finishing school, Mike went into the Army and, on visits home, would help the family working the fields. It was on one of these visits that Mike met Margaret Grijalva – they were married on Nov. 11, 1961. Soon after, Mike and Margaret moved onto the family compound, known forever as “The Ranch” in Lathrop and their family grew to include five children – Carmen, Alicia, Mike, Jr., Martin, and Christina; 9 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren. 53 years to the day, on Nov. 11, 2014, Mike lost the love his life when, sadly, Margaret passed away.

Music was always a passion for Mike and he was never far from his guitar and he played in trios, solo, and was part of El Mariachi Los Jilgueros of Stockton, played and sang with other bands, and formed Mike Torres y Sus Rebeldes which became The Mike Torres Band. One by one, his children Mike Jr., Martin, and Christina joined the band which remains a valley favorite for  45 years now. Aside from his children, Mike’s grandchildren have inherited the call of music and grandsons Mike III and Stephen Torres Esquer formed part of the Mike Torres Band for many years. The Mike Torres Band toured across the United States and has performed alongside international acts such as Cuco Sanchez, Little Joe y La Familia, Los Lobos, La Sonora Santanera and more. 

 “I’m very proud to carry on Dad’s name and legacy of music on,” said Mike Torres, Jr.

Aside from music, Mike loves books and education. After a trucking accident in the 1970s, Mike decided to go back to school to continue his education. He holds an AA Degree from San Joaquin Delta College, and both a BA and Master’s Degree from CSU Sacramento. Mike has spent the last few years teaching Spanish at San Joaquin Delta College and especially enjoyed teaching Spanish and Guitar at SJDC Kid’s College.

‘My father has always shown us, by example, how to embrace the beauty of our Mexican culture through music,learning Spanish and by some of his hilarious folkloric facts”, said daughter Carmen. “I especially love watching him work with his ‘Friday Night Guitar Class’ where he teaches young children, including some of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren how to play guitar and sing Mexican classic songs like “La Bamba”, he loves it”.

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