Friday, June 24, 2005

Taco Land Owner "Ram" Killed

In the midst of the Spurs' victory, we have some very sad news out of San Antonio today. Taco Land owner Ramiro Ayala, 72, better known as "Ram," was fatally shot at the legendary bar early this morning. He died at Brooke Army Medical Center at 2:25am.

An unidentified 40-year-old woman and 54-year-old man were also shot and were listed in critical condition at San Antonio's University Hospital. Initial reports are sketchy, but police believe two suspects exchanged words with the victims and at least one of them began shooting. The suspects apparently took the money from the bar's cash register and fled in an unidentified vehicle.

Ram opened Taco Land in 1965 at 103 W. Grayson, selling food to workers from nearby bottling plants. The old Pearl Brewery was right around the corner. He converted Taco Land into a bar in 1969. The bar became a celebrated punk rock venue in the Eighties, immortalized in the Dead Milkmen's 1987 song, "Tacoland."

I only played at Taco Land a few times, but two of those times included memorable Ram encounters. The first was in 1993 at a Noodle gig with Gut and Boxcar Satan. I'd broken up with my girlfriend of two years earlier that day and was lucky to have even completed the 78-mile trek to San Antonio on account of a rapidly dying car battery. I couldn't wait to get inside the bar and pop a cold Pearl to calm my nerves before the show. Unfortunately, I'd left my driver's license in Austin and my youthful appearance made it difficult to even get into Taco Land, let alone drink.

"If I catch you drinking," Ram warned, "I'll have your motherfuckin' ass thrown in jail!"

Needless to say, I was one sober 24-year-old that night.

About a year or so later, Noodle was back at Taco Land and I had my I.D. firmly in hand this time. We were right in the middle of a particularly sweaty set and I was bowled over in some ridiculous spastic contortion with my eyes closed. Then I felt something ice cold press against my forehead. I looked up and was pleasantly surprised to see Ram trying to hand me a Pearl for my efforts. I remember thinking that was about as close to winning a Grammy as I'll ever get.

photo by Mark Greenberg,

R.I.P., Ram.


Stinky del Negro said...

So sad. Death is a part of life, but Ram didn't have this coming. What a loss!!

Stinky del Negro played there a couple of times. One Sunday we drove down and played a set dressed as priests. Someone in the band asked the audience, "who went to church today?" and RAM retorted from behind the bar, "you're at church, motherfucker!!"


H. Michael Karshis said...

Please send any and all Taco Land stories to: