As it did with other far-flung regions throughout the world, American rock & roll and English beat music indeed managed to find its way across and over borders to Latin America in the 1960s (numerous South American countries had outstanding garage scenes). However, when it came to the Mexican-based Los Checkmates, the band had a somewhat more organic, innate predilection to Western rock. That's because it wasn't exactly a homegrown entity, but instead was a patchwork of locals and expatriates both, some of whom originated north of the Rio Grande in Canada and America.
Canadian Dave Atherton, at the time a college student at the University of the Americas in Mexico City, started up Los Checkmates in 1966. His family had moved to the country two years previously when his father, an employee of an international rubber company, took an assignment there. Atherton enlisted the musical services of fellow U of A students Joe Aleo, Kippy Albert, and Carlene Kern, while also picking up local musicians from other area universities, including Javier Batiz, who later played with Santana, and Fito de la Parra, later a member of Canned Heat. Los Checkmates played around Mexico City, particularly in clubs and at the private functions of an elite social clientele, as members came and went. At one of those parties, they met producer Jaime Sanchez Rosaldo, and he funded a series of recording sessions for the band. By this time, the lineup consisted of Atherton as lead vocalist and Aleo singing backup, Alfredo Cisneros on lead guitar, William Van Beers (originally from Holland) on organ and piano, bassist Alf Rey Conde, and Pato "Duck" Flores on drums. They made what became Los Checkmates' sole album, Con ¡Los Checkmates!, over a month-long period on a four-track machine for about 200 dollars apiece. Between 400 and 500 copies were pressed and released in 1967 on Coro Records. After the record, the band membership continued to shift, including, at various points, Jimmy Nichols (who had once at in for Ringo Starr in 1964 when the Beatles were touring in Scandinavia), future Charlie Daniels Band member Jim Marshall, and Gary McCracken, who eventually played drums in Sirius, before dissolving. ~ Stanton Swihart