Los Prisioneros ("The prisoners") were a Chilean rock / pop band formed in San Miguel, Santiago, Chile in 1979. They are considered one of the most important Chilean bands, and arguably the strongest musical influences that Chile has made to Latin American music. In addition, they are considered by Latin American media and musicians pioneers of Rock en español (Rock in Spanish) and the band with strongest socio-political impact in Chile. Their roots date back to March 1979, when their core members entered high school. From their beginnings in 1983 at the Festival de la Canción del Colegio Miguel León Prado (Miguel Leon Prado High School Song festival) to their first limited release album in Chile under the record label "Fusión Producciones", they struggled to make themselves known until they were able to sign with EMI Records in 1985, re-releasing their first album on LP record and cassette. From that point on, they reached mainstream success in Chile, then in Peru. Los Prisioneros created a simple Punk sound with a mix of Nueva ola, Techno, Synthpop, and Reggae.
Musically, Los Prisioneros marked the beginning of a new musical era in Chile, leaving behind the 1960s folk-inspired music of Víctor Jara and Violeta Parra, and starting the new era of Nuevo Pop Chileno (New Chilean Pop). Their legacy has been recognised by bands such as Glup!, Javiera y Los Imposibles, Lucybell, Los Tetas and La Ley, who together made the tribute album Tributo a Los Prisioneros. They made themselves known for having controversial songs that criticized socio-economic structures, education, economic policies, as well as societal attitudes of Chile and Latin America. Their songs were used by Chilean young people to protest the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Because of this, Chilean mainstream media banned the group’s music between 1985 and 1990, but their music continued to spread in Chile, aided in part by word of mouth and by shared homemade cassette copies. Many Los Prisoneros compositions are among the most important and musically influential songs of Latin America, and Rock en español, particularly the songs "We Are Sudamerican Rockers" and Tren al Sur, and especially El Baile De Los Que Sobran.
The band went through several cast configurations and through several phases and cycles of playing together, dissolving and later reuniting. In their first phase, 1983 to 1991, Los Prisioneros released four albums; three of them are included in the fifty best Chilean records according to Rolling Stone’s Los 50 mejores discos chilenos según Rolling Stone. Placing third is La Voz De Los ’80, ninth is Corazones and 15th is Pateando Piedras. In early 1990, when Claudio Narea left the band, two new members were added: Robert Rodriguez, guitarist and vocalist from Arequipa, Peru (the only non-Chilean member of the band) and Cecilia Aguayo (keyboard and chorus). By the end of 1991, they decided to dissolve resulting in a 10-year hiatus.
In 2001, their second phase began with a hits album titled Antologia, Su Historia, Y Sus Exitos, and a reunion concert at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos performing for a total of almost 150,000 people (a feat which no other Chilean band has ever accomplished). In 2003, after they recorded their album titled Los Prisioneros, Jorge González and Claudio Narea had a falling out, resulting in Narea bitterly leaving the band. González and Tapia continued performing, and recorded a cover album titled Los Prisioneros En Las Raras Tocatas Nuevas De la Rock & Pop(The Prisoners In The Strange New Playings of Rock & Pop) with Alvaro Henríquez from Los Tres band. In 2004, the band recorded Manzana (Apple) with new members Sergio "Coty" Badilla and Gonzalo Yáñez; and they go on tour of Canada, The United States, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Chile. On February 18, 2006, in Caracas, Venezuela the band performed their last concert. Jorge González moved to Mexico, leaving Tapia and Badilla in Chile. Although they’re no longer active, their music continues to be relevant and popular in Latin America.