Rodrigo González, known as Rockdrigo as well as El Profeta del Nopal (the Prophet of the Nopal Cactus), was one of Mexico’s earliest rock stars. Though he was born in the state of Tamaulipas and grew up in Veracruz, after González arrived in Mexico City in 1975 he quickly excelled at portraying the life in the metropolis through song.
One of his best-known songs is “Estación del Metro Balderas” (Balderas Subway Station), which deals with a heartbroken man wandering the station and proceeds to name-drop other stations in Line 3 such as Copilco, showcasing the urban, underground life of the city. A cover version by El Tri (then known as Three Souls in My Mind) would cement the song’s reputation as one of Mexico’s great classics of 1980s rock.
Rockdrigo dabbled not only in rock but also in a type of folk music known locally as rupestre, and cited Bob Dylan as one of his great influences. During his career in the 1970s and 80s, rock and associated genres in Mexico were under heavy political repression, so he would often perform in what was known as hoyos fonky (funky holes), musical venues that would pop up temporarily in abandoned buildings and fields in order to evade the authorities.
On September 19, 1985, Rockdrigo was in his apartment of the Bruselas building in Mexico City, when an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the south-central Mexican Pacific coast. The earthquake would lead to major consequences in cities of the region, with the national capital being particularly affected and seeing the collapse of several large buildings, including Bruselas. Rockdrigo was among the tens of thousands of casualties in the disaster.
Because of the role the station played in Rockdrigo’s career, a statue and plaque honoring his legacy was later installed in Metro Balderas. His guitar and sunglasses, recovered from the rubble, are also on display in Metro Pino Suárez. He is survived by his daughter, also a singer, who performs under the name Amandititita.
Know Before You Go
The Rockdrigo statue can be found inside Balderas station (Lines 1/pink and 3/dry green).
The glasses and guitar are located in Pino Suárez station, also on Line 1 as well as Line 2 (blue).