In 1971, the peacemaker of the Ghetto Brothers, was brutally murdered. Tired of the violence, instead of retaliating, Melendez and his gang ushered in a historic gang truce at the Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting, in the Bronx. This truce sought to eradicate street warfare, forming an unprecedented inter-gang alliance.
“Catching the revolutionary spirit in the air, the Ghetto Brothers eradicated junkies and pushers from their neighborhood, cleaned parks and garbage-strewn empty lots, and participated in clothing drives and breakfast programs.” – Jeff Mao (Ego Trip)
In 1972, the Ghetto Brothers recorded one album: POWER FUERZA released on Maisonave’s Salsa label. A mint LP to this day fetches well into triple-digits on Ebay and the album is so hard-to-find that most group members do not even own their own copy. “A gang that brokered peace among other Bronx gangs, took up guitars and combined Beatles melodies, James Brown’s funk and Santana’s psychedelic fuzz into a record that sounds like nothing less than a party.” writes Carolina Gonzalez of NPR’s Latino USA. Melendez eventually “retired” from the gang life, focusing on reclaiming his Jewish roots.
Benjy Melendez’s dramatic and inspiring true story is featured in GHETTO BROTHER- WARRIOR TO PEACEMAKER, NBM’s newest graphic novel written by Julian Voloj, a New York based photojournalist, with visceral funky art by Claudia Ahlering. Melendez himself collaborated with the duo to make the book as authentic as possible.