PHOTOS: Traveling exhibit looks at Latinos' influence in American pop music

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A new exhibit that debuted this weekend at California State University Los Angeles invites visitors to crank up a juke box and dance to some of their favorite music inspired by Latino artists. 

Michelle Habell-Pallan curated "American Sabor" — a free traveling exhibition by the Smithsonian Museum. 

"Everybody knows the story of rock n' roll - country and western got together with the blues and had a baby and named it rock n' roll," she said. "But there's another piece to that story. And it was the instruments and the rhythms brought to that party by Latino communities — and that mix is the sound of rock n' roll." 

Take for instance the song "96 Tears" by Question Mark and the Mysterians. Habell-Pallan  says the 1966 riff is inspired by Tejano music. 

96 Tears by ? and The Mysterians

Or think about the Doors and their song "Break on Through." 

"That's actually kind of built on a mambo rhythm," Habell-Pallan said. "And Ray Manzarek's parents were mambo freaks, so he heard mambo growing up through his life and transferred that rhythm into The Doors."

Break On Through (To The Other Side) by the Doors

The exhibit looks at music from the 1940s to today and is separated into five sections, broken down by geography — including New York and, of course, Los Angeles.

Visitors can also view concert posters, and short films of artists."American Sabor" is at Cal State Los Angeles through February.

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