Armstrong ~ Bass
Larry Coryell ~ Guitar
Gerold Diaz ~ Vocals
Delmar Kary ~ Lead Guitar
Leo Ramirez ~ Tenor Saxophone
Xavier Ramirez ~ Alto Saxophone, Rhythm Guitar, Trumpet, Backing Vocals
Johnny Wahlbrink ~ Drums
Hurst ~ Manager
The Flames playing in a parade on Fruitvale Blvd. in Yakima
The Flames got their start when two brothers, Xavier & Leo Ramirez and a childhood friend Johnny Wahlbrink, began practicing their music together in Johnny’s basement. Little did they know at the time, that they would go on to become one of Yakima Valley’s most popular Rhythm & Blues bands. Delmar Kary joined the threesome as their lead guitar player and later introduced them to Gerald Diaz who became the singer for the band. About a year later, Larry Armstrong rounded out the group when he came aboard as their bass player.
The band played throughout the Yakima Valley at places such as the KC Hall (Knights of Columbus) the Carpenters Hall, the Wagon Wheel, Terrace Heights Community Center, the Juanita Grange, the Teen Club in Sunnyside, the Wapato Armory & the Filipino Hall in Wapato, and the Eagles Lodge in Bingen. In addition, they performed at the Policeman’s Ball at the Yakima Armory every year for three years.The Flames were the opening performers when the Champs, of "Tequila" fame, appeared on the “Teen Time” show on what was then NBC’s Channel 23 in Yakima. Glen Campbell, who had not yet become famous as a recording star, was with the Champs during that appearance. Two of the Flames, Johnny Wahlbrink and Larry Armstrong, had the opportunity to play with the Ventures (Walk Don't Run & Wipeout) when they were asked to sit in with them during an appearance in Yakima. Another memorable event was the much publicized "Battle of the Bands" between the Flames and the Checkers that drew a crowd of close to 1,400.
Xavier Ramirez, Johnny Wahlbrink, Leo Ramirez, & Delmar Kary
As they grew in popularity, they began playing in many other Washington towns, such as Seattle, Centralia, and the Tri Cities. On one occasion, they played an engagement in Richland with Paul Revere & the Raiders. They also a played a circuit that included Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Kimberly and Cranbrook BC. It was during this time that Larry Coryell joined them and was with the group close to a year.
The Flames played hard hitting Rock & Roll that really “rocked the house.” Their music had an energy and intensity that generated an air of excitement in the crowd. It took only the first few notes of favorites such as "Money (that's what I want)," "Johnny B. Goode," "Lucille," "Little Egypt," "What'd I say," "Twist & Shout," and "La Bamba" to pack the dance floor in seconds. I personally remember feeling the wood floor of the KC Hall vibrating in beat to the music from so many kids dancing. They literally rocked the house! La Bamba could be considered Gerald’s “signature” song and his rendition was extraordinary. Because of so many requests, they usually played it several times a night. Ritchie Valens may have made it a hit on the charts, but Gerald sang La Bamba like no one else could.
Oh, if only we could all go back for just one more dance!
(Written by Linda Landon (Diaz) Edwards and dedicated to Gerald's brother & sisters, his son Greg, and grandchildren, Schyler & Jessica), April 2007
Larry was my brother. I remember when The Flames would practice on our front porch. I also remember going to their dances at the KC Hall and at Carpenters Hall. I was just a child. Our parents sold tickets at the door. Thanks for the memories.
Richard Hull, September 2012
Delmar Kary was my brother. I remember the many many nights the guys practicing in our garage.
Mom sewed all their Jackets. They were a great band !
Steve Carter, December 2013