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Erico “La Bestia” Morales (1969-2021)
The first time I met Erico was on my first year of tattooing professionally. Our mutual friend Dennis (who is the guitar player for Dantesco) brought him to the studio to talk about his next tattoo, of course. I was a bit anxious about it, not gonna lie, you see he was already a legend in the metal scene in Puerto Rico. He was not at all what I was expecting, don’t get me wrong he was Metal as fuck, but he also had a calming presence and after a few minutes of talking I knew I had a new friend.
Fast forward a few months and tattoos were done, my first official celebrity client. The thing is, after that 1st meeting he wasn’t a celebrity in my head anymore, by then he had open the doors to his home to me and had shared bread at his table. By then we were friends, brothers.
The pictures above were published in a magazine if my memory serves me right and I remember him showing it to me very happy and proud about it.
When he was working on the album “Pagano” he asked if I could help redesign the band’s logo. I had no idea how I was going to do that, but I said yes in a heartbeat. I met with Dennis at a coffee shop in a mall one night and talk about the ideas Eric had and started to work on it.
It was a surreal experience seen something I helped create for the first time being published. That was it for me, I knew then that I would live the rest of my life as an artist. Yes, I was a tattoo artist, but I wasn’t confident on my work or my skill then and I feared I might not be able to cut it as an artist, but Erico helped with that.
For a hungry artist early in his career, this boosted my confidence and motivated me to keep working and creating. I was on the right track and this experience with him helped me realize that.
Around 2009 he asked me if I was interested in doing the cover for their next album. “I want to recreate the poster of The Ten Commandments movie, but with a metalhead holding the tablets with a battle vest and everything”. I liked this idea so much, this album was going to be called The Ten Commandments of Metal and it was compilation album of covers of classic bands like Black Sabbath, Merciful Fate, Candlemass, Metal Church, and others. I got work on an album cover for a band I love!
I am still really proud of this art, I didn’t know what I was doing back then(still don’t I think), but this was an opportunity I was not going pass because of that. Months later I ran into him at a Metallica concert and the first thing he said was “brother I have something for you” and grabs the CD out of a bag (yes he was carrying a bag of his merch for sale, as you do). I can’t tell how much this meant.
Last time I saw him was in 2009 at a Fullminator show in PR. We haven’t seen each other in a while and when he saw me he lit up, got up from his chair and gave me hug. He would always give a hug no matter how long had pass, always friendly, always a pleasure to talk to and hang out with. A few days ago I got a message from a friend telling me of the terrible news, Erico had suddenly passed away.
We never shared a stage together, but I saw him on stage many many times, I wasn’t just a friend I was also a fan. His voice and presence on stage was always magnificent and something I admired. I also admired how friendly and accessible he was, how passionate about his craft, his art and and his metal family. The metal scene in PR wouldn’t be the same without him and it certainly won’t be the same without his voice, his presence and his passion. I am confident that he inspired and touched many others as he did me and they will carry on his torch.
We had talked a few weeks prior to his death about getting the new album and some masks with the band logo, sadly we never finished that conversation, but it fills me with joy that although it had been a few months since we spoke he was still as pleasant and amazing as he had always been, always delightful to exchange a few words.
One thing I wanted to do for a while was recreate The Ten Commandments of Metal cover and present it to him next time I was in PR. Sadly I won’t get the chance to do that, but I did recreate the album cover and this time I made it look like him. This is one of my most personal pieces, every stroke of the pen was painful, every decision in this recreation was heavy. It did helped me mourn and process the loss. It is with a heavy heart that present you the updated version of The Ten Commandments Of Metal album cover.
So here’s to Erico, La Bestia, singer, writer, business man and animal lover. May you drink and feast in the halls of Valhalla and if not, may you reign in hell like the king your were in life.