Edinburg music legend Eric ‘Fly’ López immortalized with mural

Picture of punk

The mural of Eric 'Fly' Lopez downtown McAllen on Friday, Jan.15,2021. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com)

Ice Cream and Anarchy. Bible Bashers. Filthy F—-rs. Although no one knows how many bands Eric “Fly” López played in, some say it could’ve been as many as 100, these groups included.

If you watched a punk rock show in the Rio Grande Valley anytime in the last 20-plus years, chances are Eric was performing; or may have gone up to you to tell you to check out a new band. Or he may have called you a poser (but don’t worry, he called himself a poser too).

It’s been two years since Eric has been gone, and now, the music scene he loved dearly came together in a communal effort to immortalize him with a mural in downtown McAllen.

Becky Guzman, a scene historian, was a close friend of Eric, who would call her “the scene mother.”

Guzman met Eric around 1993, and was her then-boyfriend’s neighbor at the time, because he would always come over to borrow her boyfriend’s tapes and CDs.

“There was a lot of punk music,” Guzman recalled. “He ended up falling in love with punk music.”

With his new found love for punk, Eric eventually began attending shows including those put on by Guzman and others in Edinburg, she said. He became a bass player, and a good one too, she added.

Bobby Guevara, known in the scene as Bob E Ink, knew Eric for more than 20 years. He met Eric while they were in the University of Texas-Pan American (now UTRGV) in the mid-1990s.

“If you ever needed anything, like if you needed to borrow an amp for a show or guitar, your guitar strings broke, he was always there,” Guevara said. “It seemed like he was always ready to help out.”

Eric “Fly” Lopez in an undated photo. (Courtesy of Becky Guzman)

ERIC FLY

In a short video memorializing Eric — created by Ronnie Garza, co-director of “As I Walk Through The Valley,” a documentary about the music scene in the Rio Grande Valley — he explained how he received the name.

Years ago, Eric went to a Best Buy and bought a random pop-punk CD. Then, he created a real review for a fictional group that incorporated the word “Flies,” comparing the band to other fake bands he made up. The review gained so much traction that people began searching for a band that didn’t exist.

“People thought it was a real band, we just named our first band that” Eric recalled in the video. “Hence the name, Eric Fly, which has stuck to me to this day, which I don’t mind, I like that name.”

Guzman explained that the band began as a joke, but they leaned into it. They even made shirts with big, giant flies and fly swatters.

“It was all [do-it-yourself],” she said, speaking truth of the punk genre. “It started off as a joke, but it ended up becoming real.”

Though the band ended up being a good one, Guzman said they didn’t play as much since the members were improving and began their own bands.

In fact, Eric played in so many bands that the number remains a local mystery that added to his legend.

“In all the years that I’ve known him, up until he passed away, I kid you not, I think he was in over 100 bands,” Guzman said. “He played locally, but he also toured with non-local bands, bands from Austin, bands from Wisconsin, from Missouri.”

Some of the bands Eric played in were The Ex-Boyfriends, The Low Ends, The Relapsers, and Fantastico!

“He was like a walking historian of bands,” Guzman said. “Punk bands, grindcore bands, every type of band you can think of, he was the man. Everybody just fell in love with his personality. He had one of those personalities that you just couldn’t walk away from.”

THE MURAL

The idea for the mural began with a Facebook post from a business in Brownsville, according to Guzman and Guevara. The post asked their audience if they knew of anyone with name recognition from the Valley who deserved to be on a mural because the business planned to decorate their food park’s wall with murals celebrating local legends.

First, Guevara responded to the post to suggest Eric for one of the murals, which prompted a support from the community. But as of Jan. 3, both Guevara and Guzman said the business still hasn’t responded.

Though that was a few weeks ago, it didn’t halt exploring other solutions. Not long after, Guzman said Garza approached her and others with another artist he had spoken to who was willing to do the mural of Eric.

The artist was Alamo muralist Alexandro Gonzalez, also known as Alex Andro or by their Instagram handle @popc_ulture, whose work is well-known and seen throughout the Valley. Recently, Gonzalez created murals of Chadwick Boseman, Vanessa Guillen, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

On Dec. 31, Guzman said various individuals from the scene, including Guevara, created a private group on Facebook to dialogue details such as where the location of the mural could be and fundraising.

Some suggestions included Hop Shop in Harlingen as a midpoint or Edinburg because Lopez was born and raised there.

“He lived the latter part of his life in McAllen and that’s where he’d play shows,” Guzman said. “And I said, ‘Why not downtown McAllen? Because he pretty much played every venue that allowed punk bands to play in.’”

Ultimately, the group decided on a spot the muralist had available in downtown McAllen, next to Boseman’s mural. Then, on Jan. 2, Guzman opened the GoFundMe campaign at 10 a.m. to raise money to pay Gonzalez and gather the supplies for Eric’s mural.

Within hours, around 4 p.m., the goal was met and the GoFundMe campaign was officially closed. With $1,509 raised, plans for Eric’s mural were cemented, as it was to be painted at Chicago Avenue and Bicentennial Boulevard in downtown McAllen.

“I had no doubt we were gonna raise some money quickly,” Guevara said after explaining how Eric touched so many people throughout his life. “I knew it would be just a matter of hours before we reached our goal.”

The mural of Eric “Fly” Lopez on Friday downtown McAllen. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)

After Gonzalez completed the mural, the group then held an unveiling event Saturday evening, where people brought candles and punk relics to create a giant ofrenda for Eric.

Acoustic punk performances were also held by Ruben Farias, who dedicated his first song to Eric’s mother who was in attendance. Following Farias’ set were Esther Martinez and Fabian Gomez from Fantastico!, who sang Eric’s favorite songs from them.

After their set, Martinez noted that the location of the mural was also the location of a bar Eric used to spend all his time in.

For those who couldn’t attend the unveiling, a livestream was also held on Garza’s Facebook page.

“He’s going to be here for a long time,” Gonzalez told the viewers watching the livestream. “Come see him whenever.”

LEGACY

“Eric was a musician, a friend and a brother to many,” Guzman said. “Not only did he inspire, motivate those that he knew, but he also inspired and motivated a new generation of musicians and artists through his work, through his love of music, and through him just being there for people.”

Since his untimely death on Sep. 28, 2019, Eric’s absence is felt in the Valley, and most likely, outside the region, wherever his love for punk took him.

“He had a lot of friends and he made a lot of friends throughout the years being in the band, but also touring with some of his bands,” Guevara said, adding that Eric would fill in for bass players who, for whatever reason, couldn’t tour with their own bands. “He knew a lot of people all around, not just the Valley, but in Texas and the U.S.”

Eric wasn’t just well known in the music scene. According to Guzman, he made various friends, some through jobs, which were mostly culinary careers because Eric loved to cook.

Those people Eric knew attended the memorial, both Guzman and Guevara said. The memorial was so full, they weren’t able to fit everyone in the building: people were standing in the waiting room, while others stood outside the funeral home.

“It was just beautiful and it showed how much everybody loved and appreciated him, so when he passed, it broke all our hearts,” Guzman said. “It was a joke, but we knew we were not gonna hear him call people posers.”

“That was his thing,” she said emotionally. “He would call people posers.”

Eric “Fly” Lopez performs in an undated photo. (Courtesy of Becky Guzman)

Eric would have been 42 on Jan. 9.

Punk is known for many things: do-it-yourself, rebellion, vulgarity, high beats per minutes, to name a few. It’s no question that Eric fully embraced punk, but therein lies a conflict that typically hides important figures and influences like him.

“I think what it is is that when people see or think of punk music or people that are into that type of music right away, they stereotype us as, ‘Oh, they’re no good for anything. They’re failures, they’re losers,’” Guzman said. “But in reality, no, we’re not. We have great artists within our scene. We have doctors. We have lawyers. I’m a school administrator. We have college professors. One of them’s teaching at Notre Dame and people don’t see that right away.”

In Eric’s case, a mural to memorialize him was a no brainer; he attended, supported, promoted and played in countless shows — all while being there for anyone.

“They kinda put us to the side like, ‘No, that’s not music,’ or ‘No, they don’t amount to anything’ and because of that,” Guzman explained. “They don’t get to know the real people like Eric that actually do make an impact and don’t realize that they’re making an impact on their own children.”

Eric’s impact on the music scene is very apparent, after all, those who were closest to him were able to make sure his legacy lives on with the mural.

“I know wherever [Eric’s] at, he’s probably thinking, ‘This is the lamest s–t ever,’ but it’s all good,” Farias said during the event, in-between songs. “He would think this is totally lame, but hey man, we love you bro.”


Eric Fly’s mural is located at 311 S. Bicentennial Blvd., near the murals of Chadwick Boseman and Fort Hood Sgt. Elder Fernandes.