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Flickering fame

From KPBS and PRX, this is Port of Entry…

Where we tell cross-border stories…

That...connect us.

I’m Alan Lilienthal.

Music Clip By Javier That Sounds Like Santana

Maybe you’re familiar with this guitar legend playing underneath me right now…

You might recognize the fusion of Latin sounds with soaring electric guitar…

Music Clip By Javier That Sounds Like Santana

This legendary Mexican guitar player got his start right here at the border….in Tijuana….

He came of age listening to Blues greats like B.B. King and T-Bone Walker…

And then took that sound and went on to play for huge stadium-sized crowds in the 60s and 70s.

He’s one of the first guitar players to come out of Mexico who really revolutionized the sound of the electric guitar.

BEAT Transition

But if you think that guitarist you just heard….is this guitarist you’re hearing now….

You…my friend….

Are wrong.

Because the famous electric guitar player I’m gonna tell you about today…

Is NOT Carlos Santana.

Santana Song FADE out

It’s actually the guy who helped Santana become the famous musician he is today.

Javier Batiz House Clip 12 Second Song

Javier: I’m gonna play some Gregorian chants…Kinsee: hahahahaha

Alan: Blues Style.

Javier: [ Laughs] ah, blues style… Yeah, Frank! (?)

Alan: [laughs]

This is the one and only Javier Batiz.

He kept calling me Frank, by the way, because of my curly black hair that he says makes me look like Frank Zappa.

Javier’s hair, though, is way more epic and iconic than mine...he rocks a glorious frizzy afro. His hair tops off his skinny jeans, pointy leather rocker boots and cool t-shirts and big silver necklaces around his neck.

Basically, he looks like a famous rock star.

And in Mexico? He really is.

Javier Batiz House Clip 12 (song up)

A few weeks back... my producer Kinsee Morlan and I got to hear Javier play a few songs in his practice studio outside his house….which is just six blocks south of the U.S.-Mexico border in downtown Tijuana.

Javier Batiz House Clip 12 song up again

After he played us a few songs, he invited us into his living room…

Then sat us down and pulled out a manila folder…

Javier Batiz House Clip 28 After Music Javier Takes Us To Show Us Clippings and Photos

So I've got to show you, this is very important to me…..Javier Batiz Clip 43 Living Room Ambi

The folder was filled with old newspaper clippings, photos, show fliers and other memorabilia from his nearly seven decades as a rock star.

The first thing Javier pulled out was a Comic Book written by Carlos Santana…

Then he turned to the page where he himself makes an appearance….

Javier Batiz House Clip 28 After Music Javier Takes Us To Show Us Clippings and Photos Okay. So this is, um, if you can read here, it says, when I saw Javier Batiz playing in the Plaza, all I wanted to do, after I saw him, was play like him. And in this book, his book, he says, I studied the sound of Javier Batizs guitar until I got it. And then I figured out my own, my own sound. Which is my sound. Alan: jajajajajajajaAnyway.

Javier Batiz House Clip 31 Santana Writes About Javier

He always says in this book and in every book that he, he, he writes. He writes, ”Javier Batiz was the guy who started me,” you know? And what does that leave me? Here in Tijuana very poor.

What the hell, right?

How did this musical legend...the man who inspired Carlos Santana….end up, as he says, poor in Tijuana?

BEAT Javier Garage Jam Music

Today’s story….

Continues our new season of Port of Entry.

It’s a season about artists... and musicians…. who’ve turned pain...into superpowers…

We’ll get into Javier’s border story….

Right after a short break...

Nos vemos muy pronto.

BEAT Javier Garage Jam Music up and out

MIDROLL 1

Estamos de vuelta.

BEAT

So...there’s a popular narrative about Javier that attempts to explain his relative obscurity when compared to Carlos Santana.

BEAT

It essentially says that because Javier stayed in Mexico to make his music…

Instead of crossing the border to chase fame alongside his friend Carlos…

He missed his big break.

And….as the story goes...now poor Javier is stuck in this big black hole of obscurity.

BEAT Bump to fade

But… that narrative...that Carlos Santana went north and found great success and fame..

And Javier Batiz went south and sunk into oblivion…it doesn’t paint the full picture.

The real story...isn’t so simple….

BEAT

Javier Batiz Clip 2 He's In High Demand I'm doing about five or six interviews every day. Kinsee: Wow…Well, I'm Javier Batiz, what do you expected? Right now I'm right now at this moment, a new record is coming out on the radios. So yeah. So you in about a half, an hour or an hour, I'm going to be again. I already did too. Kinsee: Oh Wow. Yeah. Got up at six o'clock in the morning. Kinsee: Oh my gosh. Well, thank you for squeezing us in. I went to bed at 5 a.m.Kinsee: Still living like a rock star. I like that. Oh yeah.Javier Batiz Clip 8 If He Stops Working He’ll Shrivel Alan: really,que dia! Really, I swear to God. It is common. Yeah, sure. Because that's why, that's why I'm Javier Batiz...you know...you go the hundred miles and you still got to go the 20 miles extra, you know, you get me?BEAT Fade outFade in garage jam sound So...yeah.. Javier Batiz is pretty famous...

in Mexico, he really, really is..

I mean, he might not be a household name…

But, especially in certain circles, he is indeed a rock legend.

If you ask musicians in the know...he’s truly considered one of the “Fathers of Mexican Rock and Roll.”

And his nickname in Mexico is el “Brujo del rock” – “meaning ‘warlock’ or ‘wizard’ because of the incredible sorcery he pulls off when he has a guitar in his hand.

Javier Guitar Riff

Javier’s got a wax sculpture of himself in Tijuana’s famous Wax Museum.

His face will soon be on a new Hollywood-like sign going up in the hills of Tijuana.

And the city of Tijuana even named a street after him.

Javier Batiz Clip 4 Has Street Names After Him

Where I live, I born in the house where I, where I live, where we, where we live. Kinsee: Really? Yeah. And, I was born in that house and the street goes up a hill. And that street is called “La Rampa de Javier Batiz,” which means know...

Kinsee: ah, the ramp of Javier….

Si. simon.

That’s awesome.

Javier Batiz Clip 22 Make House Into Museum

You know what? The government from the…. they're going to turn my house. It’s gonna take a long time! But they're going to turn my house into a museum for Javier Batiz and some of his friends, the musician friends that he made famous…

But...that said...

Javier’s fame, even in Mexico, has flickered on and off over the years.

One minute, Javier says he feels like the most famous musician in Mexico.

The next, he seems genuinely worried about being forgotten one day...That’s partly why he’s still working so hard.

Javier Batiz Clip 8 If He Stops Working He’ll Shrivel So I don't stop working. If I stop working, I start to shrink. I’m 77 years old, I mean, come on.

This past summer, when Kinsee and I went to Javier's house…We both got a little lost, but eventually… we found it...

Javier Batiz House Clip 26 Alan and Kinsee Saying Hi To Javier and Talking About His Street

Kinsee: I saw the huge sign, that’s how we found it finally. This is my street.

Javier’s house is right there on his eponymous road, Rampa de Javier Batiz.

Impossible to miss because of the huge, colorful mural of him painted on the outside of his practice studio...

Javier Batiz House Clip 26 Alan and Kinsee Saying Hi To Javier and Talking About His Street And I told the guys, I told the guys that gave me the street, presidente municipal and all that, and told them, “Hey man, you really messed it up.” And he said, why Javier? And I said, “You didn't tell me where to put the toll booth.

Alan: Ha. Kinsee: The Javier Batiz tax.

Alan: For music education. Nearly every Wednesday night for...decades now..

Javier has run a music school at his place.

Javier Batiz House Clip 27 Alan Talks to Students

Alan: This is really cool. I can tell why he’s so happy.

Kinsee: yeah?

Alan: It's like positive reinforcement of how cool of a dude he is. He has a street…. kids come to learn music from him..

Kinsee: In this room do you think?

Alan: probably

Hola...Alan: Hello? Aqui es la clase? Hi. How are you guys?Javier Batiz House Clip 8 This Is The School This is the school from seven to nine, it’s a school. I teach everybody how to play everybody and anybody in any language. Well, other than Spanish and English, no languages. Jajajajaja

Kinsee: Ha. Perfect. Alan: Okay. And so. The beat goes on. Jajaja.

Javier Batiz House Clip 3

Javier sets up sound and jams for a few.

Javier Batiz House Clip 4

Kinsee: So how does this night work? You just let anybody show up or they plan in advance. Javier Batiz House Clip 5

It starts off as a jam and then the classes come in. So, yeah, it's pretty good. Kinsee: Perfect.

A couple of hours, uh, you know, no later than 9, 9:30. And uh, everybody gets to play. We have a lot of fun. Sometimes people bring tequila, which is accepted. jajajajajajaKinsee: We forgot. Ha.

Yeah...

Alan: Yeah, if we would have known we would….

Student: Now you know! Alan: Now I know

Javier plays some music...Oh yeah!

Javier Batiz House Clip 6

Kinsee: How many students over the years have been in and out?

Over a thousand..

Alan: really?

Oh sure... 65 years. Are you kidding me?

Javier Batiz House Clip 16 Wants His Legacy To Live On

Alan: Why, why is music important to pass on?

Because believe it or not, I'm not being crazy. But even in the states, they don't play like us, you know? So, I am very interested in my legacy being that I stand here in Mexico, being a good Mexican, teaching all these guys how to play so that my legacy would keep on and on and on. The James Brown's, the Ray Charles, the little Richards. You know, those guys are no longer with us and nobody, nobody that can play that kind of music.

BEAT Javier Batiz House Clip 17 Keeping Rock N Roll Alive In Mexico

But the music, the music has to have a special place and you shouldn't mess around with it. You know, don't mess around with music, you know, it's going to bite you in the ass, you know, if you. So music has to be what it is. And they say boogie is dead, well probably. Chachacha is dea, well maybe. And Mambo has gone, rock in roll is gone. No. Your mama is gone, you know, no rock and roll hasn't gone. Nowhere man is here. You're not alive, you know? Yeah. So I'm taking good care of that. And a lot of groups in Mexico, oh si Javier Batiz, you know, so here in Mexico, we keeping the music. BEAT

Javier Batiz Clip 20 Students Have Gone On To Make Good Livings

There are a lot of people that have come out of my group and students who have become worldwide millionaires. Well, good for them. You know, they don't owe me anything. Because I don't charge for teaching. Alan: You don’t charge?

I don’t charge. Who want to pay me, I say thank you. Who can pay me, it’s the same. And right now I have my little kid, 13 years old, and he plays like me now, man. He's great. And, uh, it's still, I'm very happy where I do very happy with who I am very happy with my wife, with my kids. And, uh, that's about it, you know?

BEAT

So...over the years Javier has helped hundreds of musicians in Mexico learn how to play electric guitar.

Including… back in the 50s and 60s …. Carlos Santana.

But Javier says no one really taught him how to play.

He says his mom showed him how to play his first four chords…

But beyond that…

He says his ability to play music is a gift from above.

Music plays then fades

Javier Batiz Clip 9 He Learned From GodI learned from God. God gave me a talent: a special talent. He showed me how to play the guitar and sing. And then he showed me how to teach the other people: share my knowledge. So, I am very grateful, very blessed, you know. Javier Batiz Clip 11 First Time Picked Up InstrumentAlan: Do you remember the first time you picked up a guitar? Do you have a memory of that? Well, I don’t even remember yesterday, so don't ask me anything. Alan: jajajajajaUm, yeah. And so I remember when I started asking, as a little, little itsy-bitsy kid, asking for some instruments, because I wanted to sing because I came here to sing. And so I got saxophones and flutes and drums and pianos and guitars and basses. And, you know, by 10 I was playing everything...Alan: Oh wow. Oh yeah. Alan: But the guitar had a special spot..Oh yeah the guitar...by 10 I was playing and singing everything. Jorge negrete and other’s music. Sure man...….Javier sings a bit ..BEAT

It was around this time that Javier had a real lightbulb moment when it came to his future musical career.

He was about 10 years old when he remembers his mom calling from her bedroom. BEAT t-bone walker fades in

It was late at night, and she wanted Javier to turn off the radio that someone had left on....BEAT t-bone walker

Javier Batiz Clip 12 Listened To Radio

So… I got out of my bed and went to the living room to turn off the radio. And then, “I got a little baby.”

BEAT t-bone walker Aye! What is this?

Alan: Who was it?

The blues! TeeBone Walker.

BEAT t-bone walker

Then I turned it really, really down. And I put my head to the speaker and my mom yelled, turn it off. Yeah sure ma. You know?

BEAT t-bone walker

This was 1958, and “black music” wasn't played on the radio in the states. But by 10 o'clock at night, the Mexican radio used to go off and on the Mexican radio, they used to broadcast all this beautiful, beautiful music. And so every night, every night, every night I used to turn on the radio. T-bone Walker was the first guitarist and blue singer that I heard.

BEAT t-bone walker

And then Elmore James.

BEAT Elmore James

And then Sonny Boy WilliamsBEAT Sonny Boy Williams

BB king

BEAT BB King

John Lee Hooker BEAT John Lee Hooker

Jimmy Reed, man...

BEAT Jimmy Reed

And muddy Waters...

BEAT Muddy Waters

Javier was hooked.

He wanted to listen to the blues all day every day...and not just wait around for the late night radio show.

So...he started crossing the border to buy records at a vinyl shop in downtown San Diego…

Javier Batiz Clip 13 Started Buying Blues Records

I started getting my Elmore James, you know, Robert Johnson….All the beautiful blues musicians. So I started singing that music, hearing it on the radio. And by that time, it was really easy because there were only three chords to the songs. The blues, you know, three chords….. Es como corio…two cords to the corio, no? So to do the blues, you know, three chords. Then I started learning… I speak English...I started learning the words to the music with a really simple…”too sad to be lonely, it’s unconvenient to be alone”...you know?

So Sad to Be Lonesome BEAT bump to fade

By the age of 12..

Javier started a band called the TJs.

The TJ’s - Little Coffee Shop

Javier Batiz Clip 14 Started The Band The TJsAnd so I was very famous with the TJs and I started, you know, working in the very nice places with the weddings and the quinceaneras and all that stuff. And I played like I play right now, man. Because it was god’s gift...you know... a gift from God. Because the way I play….It’s not easy to find someone like the way I play..

Alan: Yeah it just immediately came through you, like it was…

Immediately man…. Yeah. And so, and so I got, you know, really famous. We used to go to, to the battle of the bands in San Diego, against the Rhythmaires, and the guys from over there who were really, really good. And we used to win all the battles. I mean, we were really good. The TJ’s - Little Coffee Shop end

One day, Javier and the TJs were playing a gig at a park in downtown Tijuana.

And that’s when Javier met a kid…

Named Carlos Santana.

Javier Batiz Clip 31 Meets Carlos Santana

I used to play with the TJs at 12 o'clock Sunday, Sunday, afternoons, 12 o'clock you know, in the daytime. And, uh, we used to pack the place... free, people listening to the little kids, playing the guitar like mother*** would do it….And uh….whew. And then Carlos' mother saw me play and went to pick up her kid and she brought him. He said, the first time I heard Javier Batiz how to play….I got the way he played….and studied it and made a sound from his music to my music. I mean he’s saying that he got my music to play his music.

Javier Batiz Clip 32 Santana Was Like Brother

But when you hear him, you hear me. But when you hear me, you hear him. I mean, come on! We were friends every day for five years, from 58 to 63. when I left.

Javier says he and Carlos were like brothers for those five years…

And most of the time... they were playing music together...often for audiences filled with people from the military in San Diego…

Tijuana was the place to go for good live blues music back then...Blues Beat

Javier Batiz Clip 34 Javier and Carlos Packed The TJ Club

We would pack up the place. I mean, people came…. so the Marines, the Navy, the army, the Navy seals….everybody's still there in San Diego. Right? And so they didn't have any place to go to hear or see or play. So everybody came from over there to hear us play. And to dance with the women, you know, they danced a lot. Yeah, good dancers, good dancers.

Javier Batiz Clip 35 Tijuana Was Rock N Roll HeavenSo in about a month. all the Revolucion Street was only rock and roll. 2 3, 4, 5 groups every day. And you know what? Tijuana in those times...It was beautiful times. Tijuana didn’t close. It was 24 hours.BEATIt was beautiful. You could leave your bicycles outside….your car open. It was something else. It was a little bit like heaven, if it was to be really rock n roll..

Alan: Rock n roll heaven

Rock n roll heaven yes.

And so, and so we, uh, we, we became very famous.

BEAT bump

People in the music industry started noticing this little band from Tijuana that could pull big crowds. BEAT bump to fade

Javier says he got scouted by a bigwig music producer from Mexico City.

Javier Batiz Clip 15 Moved to Mexico CityAnd so some guys from Mexico came and they discovered me, you know? By then, I was 15. And then I came to Mexico at 17. And when I got there, I became instant, instantly the famous, the most famous star in Mexico. Alan: Guitar player, yeah.

Around the same time, Carlos Santana’s family moved north of the border…

To San Francisco.

And both Javier and Carlos hit the ground running.

Carlos started on his path to fame…

Carlos Archival Interview clip

Watching Santana at sound check, it was clear that while he has fun making music, he also takes it very seriously. He often steps in to work with members of his band to get the sound exactly right.

And Javier became a big star in Mexico City….

Javier Batiz Playing In Mexico City Clip

Javier Batiz! BEAT

Javier Batiz Cafe Clip 42 NEW

And so when I became really famous, when I did all the 32 movies, I have done over 50 records, 50..Alan: Albums albums. BEAT

Javier says he and Carlos stayed in touch during his time in Mexico City.

And he says Carlos and other musician friends of his were always trying to convince him to join them north of the border...in the U.S.

But Javier dug in his heels.

Javier Batiz Clip 16 Stays in Mexico To Work With Idols

All these beautiful people in the states that were calling me saying: “Javier, come over here and play.” And I said no, I'm staying in Mexico because I’m working with my idols.

Javier Batiz Clip 23 In Mexico City, Worked and Partied HardIn Mexico, my life was to get up and do interviews for programs, radio, TV. And then go to bed at four o'clock because there was a party here, a party there, a party there. I had to go to them. I'm not complaining, but I was getting very tired of it, you know? Because being famous is not like being famous. Being famous is a hassle man...Alan: jajajaja

Oh yeah. BEAT

Being famous became an even bigger hassle when the Mexican government…

Which, from the 60s through the 80s, was sorta this conservative extension of the Catholic church…

Became increasingly nervous about the rock n roll culture spreading across the country.

Javier says government officials were concerned about his growing influence.

Javier Batiz House Clip 36 Government Scared Of Javier People have always been scared of me.Kinsee: jajajaja

Just look at me, man. Kinsee: jajajaja

Um, but no, the government was really scared of me.

BEAT

The rock n roll scene was forced underground…

And...it was a rough few decades….Javier says he and other rock musicians in Mexico who were seen as a threat to society...lost everything…

He says the government forced him to shut down his coffee shop, his night club and other businesses in Mexico City that he’d built up….

So.. in 1994, he got fed up.

And when his mom passed away, he decided to move back to Tijuana…

Javier Batiz Clip 17 Went Back To TJWe came to say goodbye to my mama. And, uh, it was really sad, you know, because my mama was my friend and she was my confidant you know. She brought me up, no?

BEAT

Javier stayed in Tijuana after that…BEAT

So...how did he keep his career alive...even though he was now living far away from the cultural enclave of Mexico City….waaaay off the beaten musical path.

We’ll get to it...after a quick break.

Quédate con nosotras.

BEAT bump to fade

MIDROLL 2

Y estamos la vuelta.

So...Javier Batiz was able to keep his musical career going…

Even though he was now based in Tijuana...which, back in the 90s, didn’t have the music scene and opportunities it does today.

He did this in part...by taking his show on the road...he says one of the most memorable tours was through Italy...

Javier Batiz Clip 25 Toured Italy

We traveled from my house to Italy, you know, the, the whole boot. La bota completa. We started in Milan and then from Sicily and then Rome and then, uh, a little other city. And then, uh, Naples... Napoli...

Javier says he doesn’t regret leaving Mexico City behind….he doesn’t miss it.

But…

He does miss one thing though...

Javier Batiz Clip 27 He Misses The Applause and Huge live Shows

The applause. If something I missed about not being in Mexico...is the applause. Because here in Tijuana, I get good applause from 100 people, 200 people, you know. Every time I call all my friends in Tijuana, both of them are there, you know? Jajajaja

Alan: jajajajaja

Yeah. But in Mexico, in Mexico, I get 10,000 people, you know, 20,000 people. And when you hear that applause go...ahhh….ahhhhhh...

Live Concert Clip

Javier Batiz...Javier Batiz…loud applause.

And, uh, so…. that I miss, of course, the applause. Because I don't live on real big money, which I do get money, but not real big...I live because of the applause…. Es no mas grande...Si. That’s it. And concerts and concerts and concerts…

BEAT with applause sounds

The truth is, had Javier stayed in Mexico City instead of moving back to Tijuana...

Or gone to San Francisco alongside Carlos…

Maybe he would be more well known on both sides of the border…

But his family...his wife Claudia...his five kids….and, especially his faith in God, made him feel rich and full and no longer interested in chasing fame the way he did when he was younger.

And because of that, he may not be rich when it comes to money.

But he says he feels rich in the ways that matter most to him.

BEATJavier Batiz Clip 26 Still Working Hard

I haven't stopped working and I don't know anything else to do. I sing,, I get paid. I go home. That's all I do. Javier Batiz Clip 19 Will Take Inner Peace and Family Over MoneyOut of my band have come out, uh, uh, worldwide known musicians, like FITO love from I congener Turner and the monkeys, uh, Marco Mendoza, you know, Carlos Santana, all these guys: really, really famous guys, you know, worldwide. I am not, I am not seeking or searching for that. I am very grateful, glad, and really humbled by the, the, the level that I'm living in. Like, uh, like a really poor musician. I've been so rich, rich. I mean, really you know. But right now, you know, I play, I get my money and that's what we have. Pero tengo mi hijas, mi esposa….oh God, it gets my heart because there's nothing better than that. There's no money that can pay that. You know, I'm going to buy you a wife, a daughter? No, no, no, no money can buy that. And I have it. And it's beautiful. And that's it.

BEAT

Alan: Did it take you a while to learn that? Cause, like I'm a musician too. And I think the older I get, the more I realize that these things that we were told that we want from music, like big fame and music and all that stuff is like, no, there's like things that really feel like family, did it take you….

Javier: I tasted all the fames, all the monies, you know, millions. And when you start living with the people that have money, you understand that if you have feelings, you understand that those people don't have feelings. Don't have heart, don't have thoughts, don't have humanity. They are not humble. They're arrogant and despotic. I mean... Why? Money can't buy you, what you are. It can buy you stuff, you know, guitars...good guitars...jajajajaja. But don’t buy you inner peace you know…

BEAT

When Javier thinks about the immense fame and fortune his friend Carlos Santana has found..

He says he’s not jealous...just…. proud.

Javier Batiz Clip 33 Santana And Javier Still Brothers

We still are brothers, but he lives in Dubai. And I live here in Tecate. Alan: He lives in Dubai?

NO, ha, he lives in Las Vegas. He lives in an eight and a half million dollars house he constructed for himself. So I think he has money. Alan: Yeah. Yeah.BEAT

Every now and then, Javier says Carlos will call him up…

To talk about how he feels a little guilty about how things have turned out for Javier...

Javier Batiz Clip 39 NEW

Me hablo...Javier? Que paso? Que paso? deberías estar aquí, no yo! You should be here, not me, me dijo. Carlos... four or five o'clock in the morning. He calls me and...I mean, those kind of things, you know, I, I get them, I embrace them. And I don't talk about him too much, you know. You're an important guy. You see? That’s what I mean. I’m an important guy? Sh&* yes! Jajajajaja

Kinsee: jajajajaja

Alan: Gotta be proud of who you are.

Si, si, si. Javier Batiz House Clip 45But I'm famous. I'm famous. You just want to be famous, I’m famous. Alan: Yeah, you got your own street.

Yeah, I got my own street. jajajajaja

Alan: Yeah, not many people can say that.

BEAT

There is something that has started really hurting Javier’s feelings though…especially given how much he loves his city of Tijuana…

The first time we met with Javier, he was literally wearing a t-shirt that said “I love Tijuana.”

But...sometimes, he feels like the city….is forgetting to love him back.

Like...for example...a few months back the city held an anniversary concert and Javier...wasn’t on the lineup...

Javier Batiz Clip 38 Painful When He's Not Asked By Tijuana People to Play

It’s something that’s pitiful to me. Painful. That even the guys from Tijuana don't know what I do, man. I hate it because I'm here and I can play anywhere. No...what I mean is if I'm here, why don't they call us? You know, with my group and everything, my singers, my dancers, my horn players. I mean, God, you know?

BEAT BUMP TO FADE

Silence

Back at Javier’s house...which, by the way…. feels like a museum of himself with photos and band posters and other musical memorabilia plastering the walls...

The music school transformed into a practice session for Javier and his current band.

Javier house ambi from stereo recording

And...Kinsee and I got a taste of what it’s like…

Not only to hear this living legend play guitar and sing…

But also to hear his stories and feel the joy he radiates when he’s making music….

Javier Batiz House Clip 15 Story Behind A Song

OK, we're going to play some instrumentals right now. I want you to listen to some of my, um, of my compositions. Because I compose very well.

Alan: jajajaja

What’s so funny, vato? This one. I wrote this one for a girl that used to take care of Carlos and me in Convo Club where we used to work. And her name was Flor and so I wrote a song about her because she was so good to us you know…..

Javier Batiz House Clip 20 Song He Wrote For The Dancing LadyOne, two, three, four….

BEAT swell to fade

Inside living room ambi up

Alright, so Frank...I got some pictures inside… I’m gonna see if we can find them to show you, Ok? Alan: sisisisisi

That’ll be 10 Dollars.

Right before we left Javier…

He pulled out an 8x10 black and white photo of him sitting at a table with several famous musicians, including Carlos Santana.

Javier Batiz House Clip 32 Just Javier And Carlos Left

All these guys are gone. Now they're dead, they die. And it’s only me...and Carlos. BEAT

Javier Batiz House Clip 24 He's Not Throwing Punches In The Air So for the music, I've done everything and anything, you know, because a lot of idiot people, especially in my country, they try to take down whatever I have built up. But it's not that easy and they're not going to get nowhere because I got a street, you know. And it’s not funny. And I didn't do that. The people that know did it, you know, so I'm not playing in el aire..., you know, throwing punches in the air. I'm doing what I supposed to do and with all my love.

Alan: Mmhmm

What else, you know?

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Port of Entry is written and produced by Kinsee Morlan. Emily Jankowski is the co-producer and director of sound design. Alisa Barba is our editor. Lisa Morissette is operations manager and John Decker is the interim associate general manager of content. I’m your host, Alan Lilienthal. This program is made possible (in part) by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people."

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Photo by Kinsee Morlan
Javier Bátiz plays guitar in his practice studio outside his home in downtown Tijuana.
Mexican musician Javier Bátiz could very likely have been world famous had he headed north of the border with his good friend and bandmate Carlos Santana back in the 1960s.

But instead, Javier went south to Mexico City, where he built a successful career in the country he loves.

In a new episode of “Port of Entry,” we look into how Javier’s life, decisions and decades-long musical career have brought him internal peace and fulfillment he says is far more important to him than reaching the high-level fame his friend Carlos found.

Today’s story continues our new season of "Port of Entry" focused on artists and musicians who’ve turned pain into superpowers.