Rock Guitarist James R. Fonseca Dies at 77

Courtesy Buddy Biglow
James R. Fonseca

He was a member of The Randy Fuller Four and also in bands that opened for Tom Jones, Barbara Mandrell and Tanya Tucker.

James R. Fonseca, a top-notch rhythm guitarist on the Los Angeles rock scene in the 1960s, died Oct. 11 after a long illness in his hometown of New Bedford, Mass., songwriter Buddy Biglow said. He was 77.

Late singer-guitarist Lolly Vegas of Redbone (“Come and Get Your Love) once nicknamed Fonseca “The Rhythm Wizard.”

The self-taught Fonseca toured with various groups and built a solid reputation on the East Coast before he ventured out to L.A. and joined The Randy Fuller Four, and they played at PJ’s and other nightclubs on or near the famed Sunset Strip.

In the late 1960s, Fonseca performed as a featured member of MGM Records’ new show group Von Ryan’s Express, which warmed up audiences for Tom Jones at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. He also opened for such acts as Barbara Mandrell and Tanya Tucker.

Later, Fonseca and Biglow (who teamed with Sky Saxon on The Seeds’ song “The Wind Blows Your Hair”) wrote songs together.