Lowrider Legend Remembered

Ride In Peace Jesse Valadez of the Imperials Car Club

When the Valadez brothers decided to start a car club, it was a childhood dream come true.

"When we get out of junior high school I said, can we start a car club? He looked at me and says 'it will never happen.' It will happen. Watch this. Time went on. We traded our bucks for cars," remembers Armando Valadez, car club member.

So in 1964 Imperials Car Club was born, and the cruising through East Los Angeles became legendary.

"When you're cruising you feel like somebody's watching you. Where are these guys coming from? But we grew up in East LA," according to Armando Valadez, car club member.

Armando's brother Jesse, was the man who owned the most celebrated lowrider in the history of lowriders, the "Gypsy Rose."

Jesse passed away last week, losing his battle with colon cancer.

The "Gypsy Rose" had a staring role in the opening credits of "Chico and the Man," and when the band "War" came out with "Lowrider" they gave the song to the club before anyone else heard it.

And Jesse, by all accounts was the heart and soul of the Imperials. He was always concerned that the club represented East LA in the best possible way.

"Always to show the public that they were people of good character, and were willing to help the unfortunate," states Olivia Valadez, Jesse's sister-in-law.

"I was ten years old back in the days, and I still remember it like yesterday. Every time I see that car, the 'Gypsy Rose' it brings back memories. A lot of memories," according to Richard Valadez, Jesse's nephew.

Cruising the streets of East LA isn't allowed anymore, with the exception of Saturday February 5th, when members of car clubs from throughout California and beyond will gather to escort Jesse to his final resting place.

Services are scheduled Saturday at the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church and end at Rose Hills Cemetery. 532 S. Atlantic Blvd. in East Los Angeles.

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