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Center honors late musician

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The performing space at West Mesa High School has a new name: the Randy Castillo Performing Arts Center, in honor of the West Mesa graduate and noted drummer who played with Ozzy Osbourne and Mötley Crüe during a long and distinguished career.

Castillo, a member of the school’s first graduating class in 1968, would have turned 62 this month but died of cancer in 2002.

The outside of the center now bears his name and inside, the auditorium features a pictorial memorial.

The 300-some seats in the center were filled during a recent dedication ceremony, and the back was lined with people who listened to and watched an hourlong tribute that included family members, several fellow rock drummers and a musical slide show of Castillo’s music and career.

Some of his former classmates were in attendance, including Veronica Herrera-Montahn, who went to school with Castillo from grade school through high school graduation.

“He was popular,” she recalled. “He was involved in various activities, but really what he cared about was his music. That’s all he cared about.”

Many classmates followed his career, which began in Albuquerque.

“We watched him here at the school, plus at bands outside,” Herrera-Montahn said. “We used to go follow his band.”

Castillo even played for his classmates at a reunion.

“I helped to organize a 20-year reunion and Randy came in to town for that and he even performed for us at this 20-year reunion,” she said. “I think it’s fantastic to have a class of ‘68er being honored.”

That’s the way the current students felt, as well.

“It’s pretty good, cool that they’re honoring Randy Castillo since he’s from here,” said junior Dartagnain Terrazas, who was draped in an Ozzy Osbourne banner. “And he graduated from here, first graduating class. So it’s pretty cool that they’re finally honoring him with the Performing Arts Center.”

Terrazas, who is also a musician, said his parents introduced him to heavy metal music when he was young, so he’s been a Castillo fan as long as he can remember.

The fact that Castillo made it to the rock ‘n’ roll pinnacle “gives kids from New Mexico hope that they can make it to the top one day,” said senior Marcus Martinez.