Life of Franco Mares to be remembered

By Tempo staff
Posted 1/27/10

The life of musician and political activist Rudolph Frank "Franco" Mares, 53, will be celebrated this weekend. Mares, who died in the early morning hours of Dec. 28, 2009, in San Pancho, Mexico, will be remembered at a rosary service here Friday …

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Life of Franco Mares to be remembered

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The life of musician and political activist Rudolph Frank "Franco" Mares, 53, will be celebrated this weekend. Mares, who died in the early morning hours of Dec. 28, 2009, in San Pancho, Mexico, will be remembered at a rosary service here Friday (Jan. 29), 7 p.m., at Our Lady of Sorrows Capilla in Cañón and a Mass on Saturday (Jan. 30), 10 a.m., at Our Lady of Guadalupe church, 205 Don Fernando St. Afterward, a potluck feast and musical celebration with open mic is planned from noon until 5 p.m. at Anglada’s Building, 736 Kit Carson Road.

A wide variety of local musicians have been invited, along with all his friends and family.

“He was very ill about three years ago,” Mares’ former partner Martha Bourke said. “He almost died then, so he had some underlying health issues which led to a sudden crisis.”

Mares was a prolific songwriter with over 150 songs to his credit, according to his bio. He was able to compose in a variety of styles from jazz, reggae and pop to R&B, love songs, country-western, Latin and folk. It is, however, his association with the seminal punk band Millions of Dead Cops (MDC) that gained Mares a measure of fame. As part of the 1980s’ punk rock scene in San Francisco, MDC toured Europe with The Dead Kennedys.

In 1990, Mares, Bourke and their son, Juan Francisco, felt ready to come back to Taos. Bourke and Mares first met in 1984 at the “End of the World’s Fair” and were together for three or four years, “but we were always a family,” Bourke said. Together they opened the Anglada’s Building, which was built by his maternal grandfather, as a community center in Cañón. There they hosted a wide variety of events, fairs and classes before the building eventually was acquired by entrepreneur Tom Worrell.

Mares was also a highly committed political activist who lent his creativity and energies to a variety of causes. During the campaign to elect Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States, he wrote, “Vamos a Votar Por Obama,” that Bourke described as “a beautiful example of his musical talent, hopes for the future, and love of Taos and it’s people.” And, during the summer of 2009, he spent two months in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. baking bread in a solar oven for “The Change We Knead Now” demonstration.

“People either loved Franco or they irritated the heck out of him,” Bourke said. “He was definitely a spiritual seeker and spent a lot of his time at the Hanuman Temple (in Taos), that was a place he played as a child when it was his paternal grandfather’s home … He was somebody who sought the spirit no matter what name you called it.”

Ultimately though, Mares was “a great lover of his human family and really wanted justice for all and not just for some.”

Mares is survived by his siblings Corine, Carmen, Vince, Anna, as well as Mario, Juan and Eleanor.

For more information, call (575) 758-7045.

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