Access Forbidden


  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Abie Epstein’s Legacy was Music

E-mail Print PDF
Article Index
Abie Epstein’s Legacy was Music
Page #
All Pages
Abe EpsteinAbie Epstein’s Legacy was Music
(One of the original pioneers of the San Antonio sound, Abe Epstein passed away recently. Epstein's musical contributions are detailed in this Ramon Hernandez report, including photos.)
“Although real estate made up ninety-five percent of his adult life, Abie Epstein’s legacy was his creation of the San Antonio sound,” Henry Peña stated during his opening remarks at Esptein’s memorial service.
“No one can take the San Antonio
 Sound away from him,” Richard “Pache” Acosta of the former lead singer of Al and the Pharoahs.
“He had his finger on the pulse of this city,” former KONO personality Wild Bill Riley said. “He knew the DNA of this town and that will never be duplicated. You could not play the music of San Antonio unless you played something produced Abie.”
 “He had something that you can’t learn from a book,” former KONO disc jockey Chris Kelly added. “Music is worthless without someone to coordinate and his chemistry was perfect.”
Henry Hernández of the Royal Jesters, who was unable to get the time off work to attend said, “Above all, he was a friend and a mentor to me and many musicians during the time Óscar Lawson used to engineer at his studio. In our case, we started out on Harlem Records, but we were aiming higher, so we went to Abie.”
Peña, who had been friends with Epstein since high school, was there with his him from the formation of his band, Henry and the Kasuals, recording for Epstein’s record label and doing distribution with Epstein’s record company.
“As a teenager in San Antonio, every high school had a garage band, but it wasn’t ‘a band’ unless you recorded at Abie’s recording studio. We just wanted to be on vinyl and hear it on the radio, than the teenagers in high school would buy the music to keep it going. Abie also helped me in radio and television,” Peña continued.
When Peña reached twenty-three and felt he was on top of the world, Abie gave him the best advice a friend could offer, he said, “It doesn’t work

 that way, get your real estate license and you’ll never be out of a job.” So Peña when to San Antonio College for six weeks and today he continues to be a successful real estate man.
Most at Epstein’s memorial were family and real estate connections. The only entertainment figures present were Peña, Acosta, a former drummer with the original Kasuals; Roger “Pache” Ruiz, who played drums with The Commands, the Playboys plus JJ and the Dell Tones to name a few. Also Alfredo “Güero” Cortinas, a middle 1960s bouncer and body guard at the Cadillac Club and Jesse García, the curator of the Westside Sound.
The three most moving tributes came from Abie’s wife Angela, his daughter Cheryl and his son Jason, who played one of his father’s recordings. It was also interesting to note that all the musicians present, including his nephew Nathan Wilson (his sister Esther Epstein’s son), were all drummers.
This writer could continue with paraphrased information borrowed from other sources, but will instead guide you to the best written obituary, which is by Héctor Saldaña and can be read at
Epstein died on Friday the 13th from two heart attacks. He was 74. Six days later, Dick Clark, another music icon died of a massive heart attack at 82.

Comments (4)Add Comment
written by Frankie Diaz, June 15, 2012
I am grateful for the opportunity to record at Epstein studio as a teen musician with Jr.Jesse and the Teardrops. The thrill of my life was his invitation to personally studio record harmony with the beautiful voice of Maria Elena... on one of her ballads. Abie was a GREAT Producer.
written by Sunny Nash, May 04, 2012
[url=[1].jpg][1].jpgI recorded on Abe's Soulsville label in 1968 after being introduced at Epstein Enterprises through the mail for a studio contract by KTSA's Ricci Ware, who had seen me at a talent show in Bryan, Texas, while I was still in high school. Before I turned 18, my mother and I traveled to San Antonio on a Trailways Bus to meet Abe.

Abe Epstein was a very gracious fellow and assured my mother that he would look after me and pay me well. He did both. With that in mind, Abe was careful to only book me in the “high-class joints,” as he referred to San Antonio supper clubs like the Satin Doll, hotel bars like La Paloma at Hemisphere and private gatherings like Andy Williams’ after concert party.

Although I signed a recording contract, Abe put me to work as a studio musician, as well, saying, "You have to know how to do some things to make it in this business and life." At the time, I had no idea what he meant. Then he wanted to know if I would try overdubbing background vocals for other artists who recorded in his 4-track studio. I had been experimenting with overdubbing using two reel-to-reel tape recorders that belonged to my elementary principle, Mr. Sadberry, who had let me borrow the machines to prepare for the talent show that eventually got me to Abe. I was anxious to show off to Abe and the rest of the staff what I could do. I was still just a kid barely 18, but I impressed them, did a lot of overdubbing and made good money doing so. I also played piano and wrote simple charts in the studio for other musicians using a little theory book that my music teacher, Mrs. King, had given me. On a few occasions, Abe asked me to record radio commercials in Spanish, with a lot of coaching on proper pronunciation, of course.

When Abe selected songs for me to sing in preparation for my upcoming recording session, he chose I Am Nothing Without You by Ricky Davila. I didn’t want to do the song because it was like a blues. I wanted to do something more Pop. Abe said, “No. Trust me.”

When we finished the session song of his choice, Abe was so taken that he named me “Miss Soulsational.” His enthusiasm was justified because the release caused a Gulf Coast sensation from Texas to Florida that kept me gigging throughout the summer. And the money rolled in. “I told you,” Abe said.

I will never forget Abe Epstein, who was more like a father to me than a boss. He taught me things about the music industry and about life that have helped me to become who I am, especially the part about knowing how to do some things.
He Was a Great Teacher
written by Sunny Nash, May 04, 2012
I recorded on Abe's Soulsville label. He named me Miss Soulsational. He taught me a lot about the business. I will never forget him.
Well done.
written by Jason Epstein, April 24, 2012
Thank you for an excellent article about my father. He is smiling as he taps his foot and strums his guitar.

Write comment


Don't miss this oportunity