before the next teardrop falls

Freddy Fender was born Baldemar Huerta in the Rio Grande Valley town of San Benito, Texas. He grew up in a barrio that, he is quick to point out, was not a crowded ghetto but just a poor Hispanic neighborhood. The first music he played was Tejano, conjunto, Tex-Mex- the rambunctious combination of polka (from the German settlers of Texas) and traditional Mexican music- he learned by watching and listening at weddings and other events in the neighborhood. In 1947, at the age of 10, he made his first appearance on radio, singing a current hit “Paloma Querida”, on KGBT in Harlingen, Texas. Another performance of “Paloma Querida” (literally translated “dove” and “loved one”) won him a tub of food worth about $10- first prize in an amateur talent contest at the Grand Theater in Harlingen.

At the same time, Fender was getting a first-hand education in the blues. His parents were migrant workers and he traveled with them during the picking season. Many of his fellow workers were black, and some of them, Fender remembers, were good enough singers and musicians to have been professionals. The blues music he heard in the fields would become an integral part of his own unique style.

Source: Freddy Fender Bio

I only saw Freddy Fender perform one time – at Mickey Gilley’s Nightclub in Pasadena, Texas in the 1970s.  However, if memory serves, he also acted in The Milagro Beanfield War.

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