Los Belkings was an instrumental rock band which formed in Lima, Peru in 1964. Their slightly surf, slightly psychedelic sound is comparable to The Ventures, The Trashmen, The Shadows and bands which they would later come to influence, such as Television, The Kinks, The Hellacoptors and The Low Budgets.
- Los Belkings formed in Lima in the basement of rhythm guitarist Willy Sandoval, originally of Trujillo, in 1964. The original lineup consisted of Willy Sandoval on rhythm guitar, Raul Herrera on lead guitar, Nico on bass, Kiko on drums and Emilio Zavala on vocals. During that year, the band, which consisted of all teenagers at the time, would spend their days in school and their evenings entertaining audiences at Club Tabaris, performing mainly cover songs.
- By the time the band was prepared to tour Peru in 1965, 13-year-old Walter Aray had replaced Kiko on drums, Daniel Rosario had taken over vocals and Jose Olivera( Nicknamed "Magoo" because of his glasses) had replaced Nico on bass. The band had been lured to Tarma in the half-hearted promise that there might be some opportunities for exposure and signing for the band there. What resulted was an extended stay that brought the band's music repeatedly to the ears of listeners of the local radio station.
- Upon returning to Lima, the band was presented with the opportunity to appear on the showcase of a local television station alongside the likes of Brazilian singer Sergio Murillo and fellow Peruvian group Los 007(Not to be confused with the Venezuelan band of the same name) amongst others. These appearances lasted for two months and were highly beneficial to the band's rise in success. Also, during this time, Jerry Lam replaced Magoo on bass and Daniel Rosario left at the request of the band, which had decided that it would herein function best as an instrumental group.
- In 1967, the band's first several singles emerged and were met with a generally positive response. But come time to work on a full-length release, the band decided to collaborate with friend and Peruvian composer Andrew Roque, whom the band would continue to work with throughout the duration of their career. What emerged from this fortuitous collaboration was the album El Sonido de Los Belkings. The album was a hit, steadily selling out its first printing of 10,000 and continuing with further pressings.
- Soon after, Jerry Lam left the band to form the group The Dragon and was replaced by bassist Lucho Rojas Pacora. At this time, Los Belkings also became acquainted with singer Kela Gates who was being produced by Gustavo Galliani at the time. She and the band decided to record a single together. It consisted of a version of a Nancy Sinatra song(Summer Nectar) on side A and an Andrew Roque composition(I'll Catch) on side B.
- By 1968, Los Belkings were eager to get picked up by foreign markets. They knew that establishing a bigger and more impressive sound was crucial to this effort. So Andrew Roque enlisted the aid of the Peruvian National Symphony Orchestra to provide lush and subtle enrichment to the sound of the band's next album. What transpired was the impressive sophmore effort Los Belkings which featured songwriting contributions from the entire band as well as Andrew Roque. Later in that year, the band decided to record yet another single accompanied by Kela Gates titled AL MAESTRO CON CARIÑO with a B-side titled LOCA POR UN LOCO.
- The band headed back into the studio in 1969 to record Los Fabulosos Belkings. For this album, the band stepped away from instrumental music a bit and enlisted Kela Gates once again to contribute vocals in addition to Rossi Urbina of Las Midens. Also, a collaboration was made between the band and author Daniel Felipe Escobar to enrich some of the album's themes. Los Fabulosos Belkings is a story of hardship and bittersweet sentiments which represented much of the tensions going on within the band at the time. In the end, the group was not completely satisfied with this record and attempted to re-write and re-record some of the songs as singles. But, after all was said and done, what they really deemed necessary was an evolution to their sound.
- 1969 also brought with it a full-length collaboration with Kela Gates. To the band, this seemed like the logical step to take their music further. For this effort, the band teamed up with pianist/composer victor cuadros for the arrangements and enlisted the talents of additional guitarist Juan Manuel Barreda as well as Las Midens, providing the choral harmonies to Kela Gates' lead vocals. In addition, Walter Aray found need to leave the group for health reasons and was replaced by drummer Juan Carlos Barreda. The band had satisfied their appetite for evolution with Los Belkings y Kela Gates but were, at the same time, beginning to wane.
- Regardless of some growing unease in the band, the members had peaked their interest in incorporating vocals harmonies into their music, and so they agreed to continue working with Las Midens on the album Las Midens. But after months of solid recording, the band ceased to play a note for five months. The excitement of expansion had tired its members and disinterest had begun to set in.
- When the band re-emerged in 1970, they found themselves refreshed and hosting two new members. Fernando Bolart had taken over on drums after Guillermo Doig had served a short stint and, while there was no active bassist during this period, Luis Arroya took over third guitar duties in the studio for the recording of a new EP titled Los Belkings. Partially due to this album's relative success overseas, Peruvians felt somewhat isolated from the band at this point. But continuity was deemed a necessity by the band. Regardless, the group's popularity in other countries, particularly the United States, put them on a temporary sort of black list by the government under the advisory of General Juan Velasco Alvarado who believed that the youth should be celebrating national music and not give in to the drug-induced sound of English and American rock n' roll.
- The result of this fiasco was that Los Belkings would not release another album until 1973. This record, Ayer y Hoy, would be the band's swan song. This proud achievement for the group quells up mystical and Andean melodies and integrates them gracefully with the band's sound in ways unforeseen. In addition, the album features Juan Carlos Cubas on bass and Augusto Castro on drums. The third guitar dynamic had been deemed unnecessary by this junction and the four-piece assembly of Los Belkings would continue to be the same lineup until 2007 when Juan Alberto Mostacero took over on drums.
- Since 1973, Los Belkings went on hiatus until they reunited and recorded a live album, Los Belkings En Vivo, Volumen 1, In 2003. Since then, the band has had a small resurgence in popularity and has continued to be a favorite in and around Peru.