Bennie L. Sanchez was the biggest influence on entertainment in New Mexico, not only being the mother to musical icons but having a hand in bringing big concerts to the Southwest.
From her humble beginnings in Albuquerque, Bennie L. Sanchez was able to set out small, but turn her desires into an empire.
“I saved enough money upon the farm until I could open up a small grocery store,” said Sanchez in a 1999 interview.
From the grocery store, she expanded out to owning her own restaurant, but still, that simply wasn’t enough. Instead, it was the love of music which drew her into a whole new passion.
“I started to do promotions with him, we sold the restaurant and we moved to Old Town,” added Sanchez. “We started to help Al, my husband and I started to buy him instruments…”
By Al, she means setting up her famous son Al Hurricane, along with his brothers Tiny Morrie and Baby Gaby who were already taking center stage at promotions throughout the southwest.
From there, Bennie Sanchez and sons established Hurricane Records. It became one of the most prestigious recording labels and studios in the southwest at the time.
“We bought this building on San Mateo and made a recording studio there and things started to get heavier and heavier,” said Sanchez.
Recording on original equipment once used by artists like Buddy Holly from Norman Petty studios in Clovis, the company expanded out into Hurricane Enterprises with a full-on promotion company. All setting the path to attracting some of the biggest recording artists at the time.
“I started to bring in promotions like the Everly Brothers, like Fats Domino and so many artists, I can’t even mention them, I’ve got a list of about 500,” added Sanchez.
One promotion that Bennie had a hand in bringing to Albuquerque, was the King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley.
“These people that were promoting Elvis Presley, you know, they got in touch you know with me and I thought, oh gosh, this is… couldn’t be you know, that would be a dream to promote somebody like Elvis…”
Branching out into more businesses, Bennie and her sons owned and operated the Far West Night Club on Albuquerque’s West Side. By the 1980’s, Hurricane Enterprises was reduced to only include the record label.
Bennie Sanchez passed in January 2011, but not without leaving her mark in music, a lasting legacy, and her place in New Mexico’s entertainment history.