When Adrian “Chico” Hernandez left us recently, the music world lost a skilled player, and a passionate percussionist. He will be missed by all of us in Savor, by a host of other musicians, and a great number of friends and family members. 

Chico joined Savor more than eight years ago, and was by all accounts the best timbalero we’ve ever played with (and we’ve played with a few). Well versed in not only Santana’s music but also Latin music in general, Chico’s impressive grasp of the instrument was often demonstrated by the memorable little riffs he came up with on the fly. 

Never for a second could anyone doubt Chico’s commitment to the band. He gave everything he had, and that was a lot. He never missed a gig, rehearsal, or video shoot, and cheerfully did whatever it took to get there — including driving hundreds of miles and lugging a great deal of heavy equipment. 

A dedicated Santana fan, Chico had attended more than 50 Santana shows. He didn’t just know the music — he lived and breathed it. He captured every lick and nuance of the music, and often pointed out things we didn’t even know were there! 

While his playing was terrific at all times, you could see the joy in his face as he opened up during the iconic solo at the end of Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen, during which he astounded the audience. His signature moves included playing under the drums, pouring water on his timbales for a dazzling fountain effect, and throwing and [sometimes] catching his sticks (laughing at himself when he missed). 

But Chico wasn’t just a terrific musician — he was also a proud father and grandfather. He spoke glowingly of his kids and grandkids, and was quick to tout their accomplishments. As great a loss as it is for us in the music world, I can only imagine the sorrow his family feels. Our hearts go out to all of them. 

His last gift to the band was introducing us to his student and mentee: Armando Puentes. While no one could ever replace Chico, after being taught by him, Armando is helping to carry on the tradition that Chico established.

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