From Obscurity to Notoriety, By Johnny Velazquez, PhD

The name is synonymous with, national recognition, achievement, fame, celebrity status, and success. Who is David Jet Black Horse, and where did he come from? Could he be considered an inspiration when given the opportunity? Would he be considered an overnight Cinderella story once he became an overnight sensation? In order to have a better understanding of such an awe-inspiring conundrum, let us travel back in time, as we search for the motivating factor that we feel will bring forth a response, which will enlighten those in search of an answer.

To his parents, he was a God-given, life-long dream, which brought them fulfillment.To his siblings, nieces, and nephews, he was bigger than life. To other family members, he was a mystery. To the Rock & Roll musician, he was the one who brought forth the essence of the artist, through his focused photographic genius. To the fashion world, he was an enigma, whose vision defied the daily drudgery of the industry, but simultaneously, overcame the status quo.

The name itself, Jet Black Horse, denotes a free spirit, unrestrained, no holds barred, soul searching individual, free to roam, and pursue that inner desire, that continues to gnaw at him. That mysterious force does not want to let go, so, all he can do is to lunge at it and take hold of that which seems to be a bigger part of him.

The name can only be deemed as that given to a Native American. To those who are wondering what the missing link might be, with respect to the mystery surrounding this most charismatic, adventurous, Renaissance man, we must go back in time to an era considered by most, as the emergence of the Western Frontier.

Geronimo, and the Chiricahua Nation. What is David’s connection to these historical names, and that particular era? Allow me to enlighten you. Geronimo: a name synonymous with strength, mystery, adventure, and courage. This name, instilled fear as well, among the earlier settlers in the Western, and Midwestern states. The travesty committed against this once proud and Native American Indian, not only by the white settlers, and the US Cavalry, but by the Mexican Military as well, turned this man into a bitter, vengeful individual. According to history, Mexican soldiers committed the unthinkable against him. They murdered his wife and children, thus fueling his hatred toward these soldiers.

That day in history, sealed the fate of Mexicans living around Arizona, and neighboring states. Geronimo went on a rampage, killing, and kidnapping Mexican women, and children, as he felt that this act would satisfy his vengeful heart. On one of those raids, a young girl was taken by his band of renegades. This girl would someday become David’s great-grandmother. She became Natividad to her family, and subsequent descendants. This explains briefly, David’s connection to the Apaches, a heritage that his father never denied throughout his life. This same sense of pride was instilled on David, and the rest of his siblings.

On his sixteenth birthday, David was presented with a camera. Most adolescents of that age, would have opted for something much more tangible, i.e. a new wardrobe, perhaps a used car, sporting equipment, radio, etc. This gift, not only captured David’s attention, but his imagination as well. This wasn’t just a camera, it was the beginning of greater things to come. From that genesis, the “Man Behind The Camera” was birthed. This seemingly insignificant instrument became the object with which he would embark on his voyage. One which would also introduce his artistic signature to that unreachable world, just as Geronimo, with rifle in hand, set out to leave his mark in the world as well. That sense of adventure, coupled with the fearless attitude demonstrated by his ancestor, would someday open doors of opportunities for David, who in turn rushed in headlong, without any apprehensions on his part.

Just as the artist presents a masterpiece on canvas, so did David, through his prowess with a camera. This camera became his easel, the shutter became his canvas, the print, became his sketch, and the end product, his masterpiece. In time, the music world, or Rock & Roll community, upon witnessing this phenomenon, seized  the opportunity that was being presented to them, and with salivating urges, captured this great gift. David became an icon, followed with accolades throughout his season. His photos were displayed on some of the leading magazines of the day, world wide. David, the explorer, or conqueror, had reached the pinnacle of his profession. “Veni, Vini, Vici.”  I came, I saw, I conquered.

One would feel that after having accomplished so much, David would stop at this juncture, sit back, admire his handy work, and utter, “I did it,”  Au contraire, mon ami. The force that moved Geronimo, beyond his widest dreams, continued to tickle David’s adventurous spirit. Desiring to expound on the legacy his Apache ancestors instilled in his maternal side of the family, he opted on becoming a fashion designer, of Native –American motif. David was not the least concerned of the outcome, as he was certain that this new and foreign venture would be easily conquered. The word defeat was not part of his vocabulary.

In time, he became an institution per se. His name became synonymous with the likes of the elites in the fashion world. The fashion industry had met its Waterloo. This native New Mexican, descendant of Geronimo, kissed this industry, with the same reckless abandon, but shrewd manner, in which he kissed the print industry. His fame throughout Europe, was par excellence; not only in that part of the world, but in other parts of the globe, including of course, the US.

His fashions, caught the eyes of well-established celebrities. One notable one stands out from the rest. David’s designs captured her interest, which culminated in the purchase of multiple Native –American fashion apparel.. The celebrity we are talking about is none other than Cameron Diaz. Other icons, followed suit. David made his mark on the world just as Geronimo, his ancestor, did.

I have used the past tense, in writing this article, as we lost this phenomenal figure, at the peak of his grandiose career. He succumbed to a malady, which resulted from a fierce beating, by a group of men. Eventually, his debilitated body could not withstand the brunt of this cowardly attack, which forced him to forgo further involvement in his most precious and rewarding career. This wanton attack, caused his body to deteriorate slowly. His spirit cried out as he attempted one more charge at this unseen enemy.  His family will forever love him, and will cherish his memory. I met his family in 1965. I’m certain that I saw him as a young child, but alas, cannot remember him. His friends will remember him with fondness, and the industry, which embraced his genius, will remember his tenacity, and artistic eye. One thing that those who knew him well will remember well, and that would be, his engrossing laugh. “Good Hunting, David Jet Black Horse.”

   This writer was commissioned to write this article, by Sylvia (Star) Gutierrez.The information on this article, was also provided by Sylvia (Star) Gutierrez. Foot note: Star was the Apache name given to her, by her dad.

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Copyright by Johnny Velazquez