Hi, this is a little story about me, by me… for you! I was born in Havana, Cuba, and moved to Puerto Rico when I was 6 years old. My family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, when I was 13 because my dad was hired as the house band drummer/percussionist at the famous Desert Inn Hotel there, playing for all the biggest stars of the time during the Rat Pack era and beyond.
I’ve played percussion since I was a child. Growing up in a multi-generational musical family, musicians were a constant presence in my home and music of all styles and genres influenced my life. I think back to when I stood in the hallway of my house, as a teenager, and listened to the Latin Salsa Music my mom constantly played in the kitchen, at the same time hearing my dad’s Jazz records spinning in the home studio and my own Rock and Funk records on the turntable playing in my bedroom… well, it may have sounded like mayhem to anyone listening… but that crazy musical mixture became… me!!!
I started to play professionally at the age of 16 in Las Vegas, Nevada. I toured and played in clubs, lounges and showrooms for Vegas headliners like Lola Falana, Marilyn McCoo, Ben Vereen, Paul Anka, and many others. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a recording career in 1980. I was fortunate to record and tour with many international artists from Jazz to Rock to Pop.
They say “dreams come true” and I look back and cannot believe that when I listened and looked at records from Chicago (CTA the first album I ever bought with the money from mowing lawns for neighbors), Santana, Robbie Robertson, Steve Winwood (Traffic), Jackson Browne, Joe Sample (Jazz Crusaders) Neal Schon (Journey) just to name a few…that these artists were going to be a part of my professional life and I was going to record and tour with them!! So, yes, my dreams came true, BIG TIME!!
Here I am telling you all this while on the road with Chicago, one of my all time favorite bands. Playing Chicago songs is like playing the soundtrack of my life… through the ’70s, ’80s ’90s, 2000s, and now!
I love touring with Chicago, it’s more than music; it’s a family, a brotherhood. When I’m not touring, I’m recording with other artists, clients and musicians, doing educational music clinics, masterclasses, working on my personal music projects and enjoying the evolution of the careers of my three children. The musical legacy lives on with my daughter Lilliana de los Reyes on tour with the legendary George Benson, my son Joseph de los Reyes with his band, and my youngest son Gabriel de los Reyes, who is an up-and-coming singer/guitarist.
My musical and artistic family extends to my brother Daniel de los Reyes, percussionist with Zach Brown Band, my actor brother Kamar de los Reyes and his wife Sherri Saum from ABC Family “The Fosters”, and my father, Walfredo de los Reyes Sr., a master innovator drummer/percussionist and teacher who gifted us all with natural talent and appreciation for the arts.
After touring for more than 45 years I’ve come to appreciate all of life’s ups & downs, the hard times and good times. Life is what happens between “Hellos & Goodbyes”. The rest are memories you take in your heart to enjoy, until the moment you die, so…let’s create some more memories!!! When is the next tour bus leaving? Cya at the next Chicago concert…Bye!!
Keep up life in Wally’s World on his new website @ walfredoreyesjr.com