Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Over the past twenty-five years, one of the most celebrated duos on the 'World Music' scene has been Willie & Lobo. With friends and roots here in Puerto Vallarta, many of us have followed their career and have enjoyed their music. It is with a heavy heart that we report that after suffering from Alzheimer's for over a year, Willie passed away at a nursing facility in Florida on Christmas morning. He was 62.
Correspondent Susan Wallach wrote a nice article for on the celebration of life gathering held for Willie in Sarasota this past Friday for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
A celebration of life gathering was held in Sarasota this past Friday at a private residence where many longtime friends, fellow musicians and family members shared recollections of Willie Royal and his adventurous approach to life.
Royal, violinist in the acclaimed world music instrumental duo Willie & Lobo, passed away peacefully in his sleep at a Sarasota nursing facility on Christmas morning. He was 62.
The longtime Sarasota County resident had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease while living in the Arlington Park area where he spent the last few years of his life with his wife Alison prior to requiring around the clock inpatient medical care.
At the gathering, son Pablo Royal, 28, attributed his love of music to his father. Pablo noted that he learned to respect nature and all forms of life from what his dad modeled for him from a very young age. "He also taught me the importance of sticking to your word and your honor, to yourself and others, like loving all your brothers and your sisters," Pablo said. "It's really all about trust, honor and compassion."
Born in El Paso, Texas, on June 17, 1954, to Muriel and Bill Royal, Willie's family moved to Venice, Florida, in 1958 where he attended grade school and studied violin from the age of eight, eventually ascending to the position of concertmaster of the Venice High School orchestra. In addition to his passion for music, he was an avid surfer and enjoyed fishing.
Royal's musical career highlights included being a member of the Sarasota-based reggae rock band The Instigators which formed in 1982, featuring fellow bandmates Richy Kicklighter, Burt Engelsman, Jeff Lantz, Marc Mosby and Brandon Sommers, which built a substantial regional following with frequent performances throughout the Southeast during the 1980s.
Royal first met Wolfgang "Lobo" Fink in 1983 while they were both working at Mamma Mia's restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where Royal was playing with a local salsa band and Lobo was doing a regular flamenco guitar solo gig. The pair reunited in 1990 in Puerto Vallarta and got signed by the Mesa/Bluemoon label a couple years later. The duo's first release, Gypsy Boogaloo, came out in 1993 and spent 17 weeks on Billboard's World Music Chart, including 10 weeks at the No. 2 spot.
Royal is survived by his wife, Alison, of Sarasota and his son, Pablo, of Grass Valley, California. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Read the full article at HeraldTribune.com.BN Editor's Note: Everyone here at BanderasNews.com extends our deepest condolences to Willie's wife Alison, his family, and all of his friends and fans for their loss. Willie was a kind, charming and talented man, who touched the lives of many here in Puerto Vallarta.