Hollywood Wrap

Jimmy Kimmel, Cleto and the Cletones go way back

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cleto and the Cletones are a big part of the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" family. And since Jimmy was a kid, he's been a big part of Cleto's family. Cleto Escobedo Sr. calls Jimmy his other son.

"Jimmy was at the house every day, slept over our house," he said. "I would wake up early in the morning and I would hear [a noise], and I said, 'That's Jimmy.' Because Jimmy had a little allergy problem."

Jimmy's friendship with Cleto Escobedo Jr. began when he was 9 years old. So when he headed to late night television 10 years ago, he asked Cleto to be his bandleader.

"I always thank him for this gig because he could have tried to get somebody that was established and would help the show more, being a bigger name or whatever. But he trusted me with this job, and I've tried to do the best I can," said Cleto Jr.

And one of the best things he did was hire his dad to be in the band.

"I look to my left and I see him [and I] still get chills, you know, all the time. I mean, what dad doesn't want to be playing along musically with their son? It's a great, great feeling," said Cleto Sr.

This is a tale of two cities. There's life in Hollywood now, and there's Las Vegas, where Jimmy grew up and became Cleto's best friend.

Before "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Cleto Sr. worked at Caesar's Palace for 30 years, from busboy to room service waiter to head butler.

He had walked away from a career in music to support his family.

"He never said, 'You know what I gave up for you?' It was never any of that. That gave me a lot of drive in my career. I wanted to succeed so bad for him because of what he had given up for our family," said Cleto Jr.

Now 70, Cleto Sr. feels blessed.

"I see the greatest son in the world. You know, I always told him, 'Stay gold.' I'm getting a little emotional. Sorry about that. But he has been the greatest son in the world," said Cleto Sr.

As for that other son, Jimmy...

"We get to see each other every day. That to me is probably the best thing about doing the show is that Cleto's dad got to be what he was born to be, which is a musician," said Jimmy.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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celebrity, television, abc, hollywood wrap, george pennacchio
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