And a great party it was! The Fulton 55 Club was packed with family, friends, and fans of the late Hank Sandoval,Jr.,last night and there is absolutely no doubt that Hank would have approved. Although there was a certain feel of sadness in the air, there was also a celebration going throughout the night as well. Hank Sandoval was a man with many friends. He was always quick to share his very honest smile to friends, and new friends wherever he went. He was glad to see you and you were glad to see him. Helping to spread those good vibes in the air were his loving family, led by his mom and dad, Delores, and Hank,Sr as well as Hank’s son, Joseph,and daughter,Stephanie Espinosa, and also their mother, Sylvia Escalera Lopez. There also was a large crowd of Hank’s friends and also fans from his many great years as a loving and supporting friend, musician, performer, and television personality.
Club 55, what can we say(?),the joint was jumpin’ to the great music,funny stories, great friendship, and a whole lot of love, all in tribute to the bassman known as “Hambone”, “Hankster” and just as an all round great personality. Truthfully a man who would do anything asked by family friends, neighbors, and people who knew him from TV.
During the course of the party, many of Hank’s friends, got up and spoke about the man and there were many smiles, laughter, and some tears as well as this great human being was talked about in such well deserved and loving terms.Certainly a highlight too, was when Hank, Sr. took the stage to talk about his son and the crowd loved it. He spoke about his son’s accomplishments, his sense of humor, how he loved his family and friends, in particular his children, Joseph,and Stephanie.
Hank played in many bands over the years and one of his major talents was that he had a great “feel” for any kind of music. He was a founding member of the “On Tonight All-Star Band, on TV’s “On Tonight with Chris Terrence” show which was on the air in Central California from 1990s into the 2000s, five nights a week on KAIL TV Ch 53, and KGMC-TV, Ch 43 in the Valley. The very versatile music man had a great talent of adjusting to many different kinds of music in backing so many different styles on the show. He worked in the band with Dr. Maynard Williams, John Shafer, Larry Gittens of Kool & the Gang, the Stevie Wonder Band, the Stylistics, Johnny “The Stick” Valenzuela (WAR, Santana), Bruce Conte and Paul Perez(Tower of Power) and on and on. When guest needed backing, Hank was right there with Malo, Johnny Lee, Mike Dana, Barry McGuire, and the proverbial many, many others.
On this great night of celebration of Hank’s life, many of the Hankster’s friends joined in on stage and a great time was had by all. From the Tex-Mex sounds of the Twilighters, featuring Ernie and Virge Martinez,then the Night Moves band, rocked and rolled through the evening. Ernie and Virge were joined on stage by Hank Sandoval, Sr, and the party was on. Hank, Sr sang, played the harp,to the soulful tunes by Virgie, and also during the evening there were many guest performances from bands such as Malo, and others and it was just a great evening of music and love. The event was organized by Arcelio “Malo” Garcia, along with Ernie, Virge and many others. There were also great sets and dancing to the music of the band, Heavy Weather, and a couple of up and coming hip hop artists, Sam Olivas, Jr., and Matt Gonzales.
I personally, along with all of us connected with the On Tonight Show, will never, ever, forget Hank Sandoval. He was with us from the beginning to the end and thought he was a talented, incredibly versatile musician, he was truly a great friend through thick and thin, no matter. I remember when Maynard Williams, brought him on the show to play in our band. He told me, “This guy can play anything, pus he is a great guy to be around.” Correct on both, Maynard.
RIP, Hank. We sure miss you.