Legendary Tex-Mex singer/songwriter Freddy Fender died of lung cancer yesterday at the age of 69. Freddy wasn’t an accordionist, but he certainly played with a few — most notably Flaco Jimenez when they were part of the Texas Tornados. In fact, last night at the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio, Flaco had the crowd observe a moment of silence in Freddy’s honor.
Born as Baldemar Huerta in San Benito, Texas, he played honky-tonks throughout the South and had some early success with a Spanish version of “Don’t Be Cruel”. It wasn’t until 1974, though, that he broke through with “Before The Next Teardrop Falls”, which topped both the country and pop charts. In 1989, Freddy joined with Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, and Flaco Jimenez to form the Texas Tornados, who fused rock, country, and Mexican sounds with alternately serious and silly lyrics; this video for “Who Were You Thinking Of?” shows the sillier side:
If you want to explore Freddy’s music, this greatest hits collection (featuring hits like “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” and “Secret Love”) is a good place to start. There’s also the Best of the Texas Tornados, which I’ve been listening to all morning. And if you’re already a longtime fan, stop by his website and pay your respects in the guestbook.
Vaya con Dios, Freddy.