Gonzalo (Charlie) Quintana died on March 13. He turned 56 on January 29. The journeyman drummer played with the Plugz, Cruzados, the Havalinas, Izzy Stradlin & the Ju Ju Hounds, Cracker, Mike Ness, and Social Distortion, among others. His most famous appearance was probably backing Bob Dylan on “Late Night with David Letterman” in 1984.

In addition to posting music and animal videos, Charlie Quintana regularly gave updates on his health on Facebook. On February 18, he typed, “I got robbed last night. I need help,” apparently in Cancun, Mexico. A Moneygram donation account was set up to help Quintana.

He continued to post, or “like” comments on Facebook over the next few weeks. On March 6, his final post read, in all lower case letters, “a restless slept.” News of his death was shared all over social media beginning on Tuesday night (March 13), although without much detail.


Among those who commented on social media were former Dylan drummer Winston Watson (“... he played drums like I wanted to play them …”), critic Chris Morris (“I first met Chalo when he was the teenage drummer for the Plugz … I hadn’t seen him for many years, but loved him dearly …”), Los Lobos’ Dave Hidalgo (“He was an incredible drummer and influence”), Peter Holsapple (“... a monster drummer and a really sweet guy”), and Warren Zanes (“I first met him when we (The Del Fuegos) did some gigs with the Plugz ....

they left a mark on me ... He was always kind to me, always warm”).

Among Quintana’s recent posts, some were about the February Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, videos of Bob Dylan, the Cruzados, and his friend Ledfoot’s song, “Stop Dreaming,” typing he was “Having a rough day” (February 16), and multiple posts about cancer.

He also wrote about missing former Go-Go’s singer, Jane Wiedlin.

Early this year, a Go Fund Me account was set up for Quintana by Trev Gibb. According to a comment on Facebook three days ago by Mark Mendoza, apparently a boyhood friend, Quintana was in a Cancun hospital, and “he’s not doing very well, he’s not expected to make it.”

Dylan on Letterman

Despite his impressive resume, it’s Quintana’s appearance backing Dylan on Letterman that had the most impact.

Letterman’s late-night show had only been on a couple of years when Dylan was booked, along with pianist Liberace, who gave a cooking demonstration. The day before the taping, Dylan rehearsed songs by Hank Williams, Frank Sinatra, and others, and some of his own material, with Quintana, his Plugz cohort Tony Marsico on bass, and Justin Poskin (a.k.a. J.J. Holliday) on guitar. The afternoon rehearsal featured two of the three songs they would perform later in the day, along with three other songs.

When he signed on to appear on the "Letterman Show," Dylan agreed to perform two, possibly three, songs. Quintana, Marsico, Poskin, and an animated Dylan began by ripping into a blistering version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me To Talkin’,” possibly a sly commentary on not agreeing to do an interview segment with Letterman.

Afterward, Letterman gingerly asked if Dylan might do two more songs, to which Dylan agreed, after a slight comic pause. “I’m almost sure it’s going to happen,” Letterman joked. Dylan returned to perform two songs from his most recent album at the time, “Infidels.” First up was “License to Kill,” followed by a rocking arrangement of “Jokerman,” during which Dylan chose a harmonica in the wrong key, but told to band to keep on going. After the mini-set, Letterman asked if Dylan could appear every Thursday, to which Dylan kiddingly agreed.

In late 1984, Dylan played harmonica on the Cruzados’ song, “Rising Sun,” with Quintana and Marsico. The following summer, Quintana played on a few Dylan sessions, and he also toured with Dylan in 1992.

Check out Quintana’s legendary performance with Dylan on Letterman in the embedded link.