“Me Voy con Los Panchos”


The phrase “me voy con Los Panchos” (I’m leaving with Los Panchos) is used in the popular lexicon in Puerto Rico. I believe I now know its origin.

Meaning of “Me Voy con Los Panchos”

The phrase is simply a funny or cute way to say “I’m leaving”. It can be used not only in first person, but also in 3rd person, like “se fue con Los Panchos” (he left with Los Panchos).

Now that I’m back living in Puerto Rico, I’m again hearing the phrase every so often. I guess I rationalize the use of the phrase by the popularity the Trio Los Panchos had in the 1950’s and beyond.

Note: although Los Panchos were based in Mexico, they actually started in New York City in 1944 and had almost immediate success. However, it was in the late 1940’s and through the 1950’s when their music exploded in popularity. It continued to be popular for decades to come.

The way I thought about it was that Los Panchos were so popular that they traveled a lot. They had long tours, staying “on the road” for months at a time. Because they “left” (traveled) so often, I believed this could have been the reason that gave birth to the phrase. Perhaps it is!

However, I recently read a book that has given me another take at the genesis of the phrase.

Aviles Leaves Los Panchos

In the summer of 1958, Hernando Aviles, the Trio Los Panchos 1st voice, decides to leave the group, again! This time, Los Panchos were in the middle of a tour in Argentina when the Puerto Rican decided to leave. Hernando discrepancies with his Mexicans colleagues Chucho Navarro, and especially Alfredo Gil, were too much.

Los Panchos with Julito Rodriguez
Julito Rodriguez (left) here with Chucho Navarro (center) and Alfredo Gil (right) departed Los Panchos due to health and family reasons.

Pedro Marcial Ortiz explains all this in his book “A Tres Voces y Guitarras” (“At Three Voices and Guitars”). The book chronicles not only the trajectory of Los Panchos, but of the formation of trios. Pedro goes all the way back to the 1920’s when Rafael Hernandez formed his Trio Borinquen. Hernandez did this a few years after serving in the Army during WWI.

For Aviles, not in my family tree as far as I know, this was his 2nd stint with Los Panchos. An original founding member since 1944, the Puerto Rican first left the group in 1952 while in a tour in Chile. I’m not sure why he tends to leave the group while in the South Cone, but that is what happened.

At that time, Los Panchos replaced Hernando Aviles with another great Puerto Rican 1st voice in the name of Julito Rodriguez. But after 4 years of constant traveling, and spending little time with his wife and kids, Julito became sick, not just emotionally about being away from home, but also physically. While in Venezuela in a presentation with the great Cuban singer Olga Guillot, he felt the first symptoms of his gastric ulcer.

Rodriguez flew back to Puerto Rico, and from the hospital, with the pleads of family to stay, he sent his resignation letter in 1956.

This opened the door for the return of Hernando Aviles. He had just returned from a tour in Brazil where he broke his Cuarteto Aviles. Do you see a pattern here?

Well, this time Aviles lasted 2 years. In the summer of 1958 while in Argentina, he left the group and returned to his home in Mexico.

Note: could the below video-song “Me Voy Pa’l Pueblo” contribute to the origin of the phrase? Here they are in this 1949 movie with Hernando Aviles.

Johnny Albino: “Me Voy con Los Panchos”

In 1957, the Trio Los Panchos where scheduled to play in New York City, when Hernando Aviles had problems with his through. The trio would need a substitute 1st voice for their scheduled shows in the Big Apple.

Johnny Albino with Trio San Juan
Johnny Albino (center) had great success with his Trio San Juan (Ola Martinez – left, and Chago Alvarado – right).

They approached the 1st voice of the Trio San Juan, by the name of Johnny Albino. The Puerto Rican knew all their songs and fitted right into the slot of Aviles.

When Hernando packed his guitar in Argentina, Chucho Navarro and Alfredo “el Guero” Gil called Johnny. Albino was doing great with Ola Martinez (1st guitar – requinto) and Chago Alvarado (2nd guitar, 2nd voice) in the Trio San Juan. They had achieved good fame and had several hits under their belt. But the offer from the Mexicans was too good to refuse.

And so, Johnny got with Ola and Chago and told them, “me voy con Los Panchos”.

I obviously wasn’t around at that time. Yet, I imagine that the story, impacting two of the most popular groups in Latin music at the time, must have been covered widely in the media.

..and perhaps, just perhaps, people began using the phrase…”me voy con Los Panchos” because of one of the biggest show business news of the time.

You might also like

Leave a Comment or Reply