Los Saicos formed in Peru in 1964 and lasted for a little less than two years. Having no real musical training, they played a pure garage sound that borrowed heavily from surf rock. Some claim the band originated punk, especially with their song “Demolición,” a decade before The Sex Pistols.
Initially the name of their band was “Los Sadicos.” However, perhaps to avoid being banned for suggesting sadism, they dropped the letter “d.” The band liked the new name not only for suggesting the popular battery-powered Seiko watch, but also the title of the famous Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Psycho.
Through a family connection, the unknown garage band played live on local radio before they had recorded a single song. The response was so strong, the radio station got them a spot on television, and almost overnight, Los Saicos were a hit.
“Come On” was their first single. Since the lead vocalist and bass player, César “Papi” Castrillón, couldn’t sing and play bass at the same time, he simply yelled into the microphone. Along with the guitarist Erwin Flores’s simple repeated power chords, the band created a raw, angry sound that resonated with Peru’s youth, exactly as punk would do in the 70s.
Los Saicos went on to release several more singles over the next 18 months, but by 1966, their popularity began to wane as fast as it had risen, and the band split. The four members went on to pursue more conventional careers. Flores and Castrillón eventually moved to the United States. Flores recorded two solo albums that were later shelved. He then moved to the Washington, DC area where he got a degree in Physics and worked for a number of years with NASA.
The band’s recordings survived, however, and developed an obscure following. Lux Interior, lead singer of the flashy 70s/80s punk band The Cramps, said Los Saicos were the greatest garage band of all time.
The three surviving members reunited in 2006. The music outlet Noisey released a short documentary film about the band in 2013.