Photo: Gypsy Rose
On February 5th as the casket made its way from the church to the cemetery, just behind the hearse, on a flatbed truck was one of the icons of the lowriding world: “Gypsy Rose,” a fuchsia-colored 1964 Chevy Impala whose body is adorned with hand-painted, multihued roses and whose hot-pink interior includes swivel seats in the front and a cocktail bar and two small light fixtures in the back.
The cars owner, Jesse Valadez was one of the founding members of the Imperials Car Club in 1965. A long line of classic lowriders joined the funeral procession as well.
“We figured Jesse was president for the longest time,” he told The Times this week, “so we were going to give him the honor, and there were a lot of car clubs there to pay their respects because Jesse was a legend of the lowriders.”
“Jesse was the godfather of lowriding,” said Mike Rivera, a former Imperials Car Club member and former club president. “That’s how respected he was. Even without the Rose, they knew who he was.”
The lowrider, Gypsy Rose, became even more famous when Valadez was asked to drive his car in the opening credits of “Chico and the Man,” the popular Freddie Prinze sitcom set in East L.A.in the 70’s.
Born in Nueva Rosita, Coahuila, Mexico, on May 1, 1946, Valadez and his family moved to San Antonio in 1959 and then to East L.A. about two years later.
Valadez, whose casket was painted fuchsia with multicolored roses to resemble the Gypsy Rose, bequeathed his dream car to his son.