Calif. car clubs pay tribute to owner of ‘Gypsy Rose’ Impala with lowrider funeral procession

RAQUEL MARIA DILLON (Associated Press) | February 5, 2011
LOS ANGELES — She was a cover girl, had a bit part in a popular 1970s TV show and was an icon of car culture. “Gypsy Rose,” an award-winning Chevy Impala admired for its elaborate floral paint job, was known in the world of cruising lowriders as one of the most tricked-out muscle cars of a generation.

On Saturday, the pink, rose-covered car rode atop a flatbed truck, leading a funeral procession of lowriders through East L.A., behind the hearse that carried its owner to his final resting place.

Car clubs from across Southern California and as far away as Las Vegas rolled out to pay their respects to Jesse Valadez, a founding member of the Imperial Car Club. Valadez died of colon cancer Jan. 29 at age 64.

“He loved that car. It was known as the legend of the lowriders,” said his brother Armando, 63, who co-founded the Imperial Car Club with Jesse in 1964. “It was his pride and joy. It was his baby.”

Mourners, many wearing shirts touting their car clubs, gathered Saturday morning for a service at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, before joining the procession to Rose Hills Memorial Park, ten miles east in Whittier.

The first “Gypsy Rose,” a 1963 Impala, was featured in the NBC sitcom “Chico and the Man,” which brought customized cars into the national spotlight.

“‘Chico and the Man’ was the beginning of everything. That car opened the door for everything you see now,” said Joe Ray, editor of Lowrider magazine. “I don’t know how lowriding would be today without him, his car and that club. He was a pioneer. The name of his car and his car club and East Los Angeles are all synonymous to me.”

Valadez’s friends in the club bought a casket painted with roses for him to be buried in. At the cemetery, mourners lined up to place freshly cut roses on top of the casket.

“Jesse lived for his club,” said his older brother Gil. “Everyone looked up to the Imperials back then because they had the best lowriders.”

According to East L.A. legend, “Gypsy Rose” inspired so much envy that one night in the early ’70s a rival car club, or maybe a gang, attacked it with bricks, doing so much damage that it could never be a show car again.

“Car clubs were considered gangs on wheels back then,” Ray said. “But it was just fists and maybe knives, no guns. There were rivalries, but they wouldn’t touch your car.”

Full article at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-us-lowrider-funeral,0,596070.story
Image source: Ric Francis, AP / February 10, 2008

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3 Comments for “Calif. car clubs pay tribute to owner of ‘Gypsy Rose’ Impala with lowrider funeral procession”

  1. ALBERT DE EAST SIDE CLOVER 1

    REST IN PEACE BIG HOMIE JESSE. MUCH LOVE GOES OUT TO MR GYPSY ROSE AND HIS FAMILIA FROM THE HOMIES IN CLOVER HEIGHTS EAST L.A. VIDA YOU KNOW! AND ALL THE HOMIES FROM IMPERIALS CAR CLUB, DESPENSA FOR YOUR LOSS HOMIES! ALWAYS KNOW THAT THE VETERANO HOMIE JESSE R.I.P WILL BE REMEMBERED FOR MUCH MORE!

  2. SS Man

    RIP to Jesse and his South Side familia.

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