If you listened to R&B radio in 1980, you no doubt grooved to one of the smoothest soul songs of that year, a cover of The Intruders classic “Together” by the Los Angeles based Latino band Tierra. I am sad to report that the band’s founder and leader, Rudy Salas, has died. He was 71. The sad news was posted on Tierra’s Facebook page. After working as members of the group El Chicano, Rudy and Steve Salas formed Teirra in the early 1970s as a full bodied R&B band, along with Rudy Villa, Kenny Roman, Conrad Lazano, Aaron Ballesteros, Alfred Rubaclava and Leon Bisquera. They recorded a few albums that had regional success, but broke through in 1980 with a harmony filled remake of the 1967 Intruders hit “Together”, which had a piece of “Cowboys To Girls” thrown in at the end. It became the group’s signature song, hitting the upper registers of both the pop and R&B charts. Tierra followed the effort with a cover of the Delfonics classic “La La Means I Love You.” The band continued with some moderately successful hits in the 1990s, before breaking off into two groups. However, in the new century, Tierra found new life, recording occasionally and performing often, particularly in California. In 2016, the group, which sadly has lost several members to death, released “Merry Christmas My Love.” Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic substantially hurt Tierra, leaving members without gigs, and leading to a GoFundMe effort for the band. Over the past decade there has been a newfound appreciation for Tierra’s pioneering work bridging R&B and Latin styles and opening doors for Latino artists to have a place in pop and R&B formats. Rudy Salas’ legacy will live on for decades to come. May he rest in peace.