Tony Ortega: Musician, songwriter, and steel executive, 1938-2019 - 2019-02-20
Yesterday morning, the Underground Bunker lost one of its most loyal and longtime readers. A resident of Redlands, California, he was fighting a recurrence of cancer after twice surviving the disease. His name was Tony Ortega. He was 80 years old. And he was my dad.
The son of a musician, Tony took up guitar and formed a couple of different folk music groups in the early 1960s, writing hundreds of songs. One of his bandmates, Larry Ramos, became a singer for The Association, and a song written by Tony, "Like Always," appears on The Association's 1968 album Greatest Hits, the group's biggest-selling release. Tony also wrote songs that were recorded by the Fifth Dimension and other artists under the music company he had created in 1960 and called Sumex, for "Super Mexican."
He also worked as a sales manager and then general manager in the steel industry in California with companies like Ryerson, RJM, and Cascade. At one point in the 1990s, he was running two steel distribution plants in Southern and Northern California at the same time, shuttling back and forth several times a month.