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Artist biography Ricardo “Tiki” Pasillas
Ricardo Pasillas is multi-talented. He is a drummer, multi-percussionist, and vocalist, who has been performing professionally in Los Angeles for the past 16 years. Born in Oakland California on August 17, 1968, Ricardo is commonly known as 'Tiki'. The nickname was bestowed on him during childhood by his older cousin Jesus (aka Pipo) because pronouncing Ricardo or Ricky was rather difficult for Pipo. The nickname stuck and Ricardo has been called 'Tiki' ever since.
Tiki's parents, Jose Luis and Rosa Maria had four other children: George, Edward, Carlos, and Rosa Angelica. The Pasillas parents insisted that their family learn a musical instrument. With their encouragement, the four siblings formed a band called Los Hermanos Pasillas. George played his Fender Jaguar electric guitar and was the band's MC, Eddie played his Buscher alto sax and did vocals, Carlos played drums, and Rosa was the lead singer and organ player. They were a busy young professional band, playing mostly Mexican weddings and parties.
Some of the parties got the best of Carlos the drummer, who according to legend fell asleep behind his Marine Pearl Ludwig drum kit during a function. Tiki came along about 10 years after Rosa and would later teach himself how to play drums on that same set of drums. His brother still owns that drum kit. Through out their musical career Tiki started to accompany them. His mother says that Tiki's tummy would move with the music when he was an infant.
As he continued to tag along with his older siblings, Tiki's natural talent began to bloom. While the band played a Cumbia, Tiki kept time on the high hat, a pretty amazing feat considering he was no taller than the high hat itself. As soon as the song lost his interest, Tiki would return to being a typical energetic kid. This could happen at the end of the song, the middle of the song, or shortly after the song began. Collecting plastic champagne corks that looked liked miniature chef hats for each finger, sliding across the dance floor on his knees, and of course inventing adventures around the dance hall with his cousins and friends were more important at that moment but the musical seed had already been planted.
The first instruments that Ricardo "Tiki" Pasillas studied were the piano and the guitar. His mother arranged for Tiki to study with Mr. Juan Silva the same gentleman who had taught Tiki's brothers and sister to play. Mr. Silva is clearly remembered by the family Pasillas for his cigarette ashes falling in between the black and whites of the Fender Rhodes electric piano. Though he endeavored to play these instruments, Tiki's natural strength was in his drumming abilities. At the age of 7 the family Pasillas moved to a suburb near San Jose.
Tiki's interest in drums started to take hold. Mickey Laure was the leader of a Cumbia band. Though they were a Mexican band, they were very tropical. Tiki was most impressed by Mickey's awesome timbal solo. It left a lasting impression on young Tiki and long before he had heard of Tito Puente. Sonora Santanera, another Mexican band, played strickly tropical music from guajira-cha to mambos with an occasional meregue. The songs, the trumpets, and above all, the sounds of the percussion captured his attention.
Concert band, Jazz Ensemble, Marching band, Jazz Choir, Symphonic Band and Theater Arts all shaped Tiki's early music education. At age 11 the Latin Percussion driven San Jose Raiders Drum and Bugle Corps gave him a strong foundation in discipline. Says Tiki: "Bob Calcauphin was an original snare drummer from the Troopers, an excellent drum and bugle corp out of Wyoming. He was a hard-ass. He said that he would break my arm one time because of a wise crack I had said while he was yelling at the corps. Later on in high school he instructed the drum line for a spell. I learned alot from him and credit him for kickin' my ass in learning how to get straight to the point and play well and hard. High school marching band was a breeze because of the corp foundation."
Ricardo "Tiki" Pasillas became quite the acclaimed musician, having won numerous awards and trophies through out his high school years including a Berklee College of Music summer scholarship. Tiki played a couple of local college bands. Barely getting his feet wet out of high school, he started Freelancing with a top 40 band and occasionally with bass player Curtis Olson through whom he played with Rosie Gains, Andy Narell, and Bradford Marsalis. Olsen's drummer, Billy "Shoes" Johnson would always be there to give Tiki and occasional tip or lesson without knowing that he was giving it.
After playing semi-professionally in the Bay Area, Ricardo "Tiki" Pasillas moved to Hollywood to attend Musician's Institute. While there he was the recipient of the Latin Stylist Award. Tiki joined a top 40 band called Paper Doll. He played drums and sang with this group five nights a week. Says Tiki "I learned how to use my diaphragm because I had to play drums and belt out the lead vocals at the same time". He dedicated the rest of the year to finishing at MI. Upon finishing, Tiki started to teach there. Word of mouth took its rounds and gave him work. "When Lambada came out it gave me quite a bit of work Ha Ha, but it's true." Tiki started playing in the Brazilian community with fresh new talent from Brazil such as Katia Moraes who asked Tiki to help her in putting together a new band called The Rio Thing. They were a smokin' little Samba band that dissipated just in time for Tiki to make himself available to the Latin bands of Los Angeles. Son Mayor, a group fronted by the brothers Ortiz, was Tiki's first solid salsa band experience. With Alfred Ortiz close to him, they both learned a variety from each other for years to come. Working for a variety of employers, including Susie Hansen one of the hardest working band leaders, started Tiki's upward spiral into the music scene with musicians such as Buddy Rich's bassist Curtis Olsen, Alex Acuña, Justo Almario, and Abraham LaBoriel just to name a few.
Tiki is a well-respected musician with world-wide recognition, and is a frequent studio contributor to records, films, jingles and voice-overs. He along with his lovely wife Maria and their children are great contributors to the Los Angeles music scene.