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October 14, 2006

Freddy Fender, RIP

I had no idea who Freddy Fender was, but thanks to the magic of YouTube, nobody has to remain ignorant. Ain't YouTube great?

Freddy Fender was a Tex Mex pioneer and a former marine. From Yahoo's obituary, here's some other biographical facts I found interesting:

Freddy Fender, the "Bebop Kid" of the Texas-Mexico border who later turned his twangy tenor into the smash country ballad "Before the Next Teardrop Falls," died Saturday. He was 69.

Over the years, he grappled with drug and alcohol abuse, was treated for diabetes and underwent a kidney transplant.

"Whenever I run into prejudice," he told The Washington Post in 1977, "I smile and feel sorry for them, and I say to myself, `There's one more argument for birth control.'"

In February 1999, Fender was awarded a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame after then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush wrote to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce endorsing him.

He signed with Imperial Records in 1959, renaming himself "Fender" after the brand of his electric guitar, "Freddy" because it sounded good with Fender.

Fender initially recorded "Wasted Days" in 1960. But his career was put on hold shortly after that when he and his bass player ended up spending almost three years in prison in Angola, La., for marijuana possession.

After prison came a few years in New Orleans and a then an everyday life taking college classes, working as a mechanic and playing an occasional local gig.

But his second break came when he was persuaded to record "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" on an independent label in 1974 and it was picked up by a major label. With its success, he won the Academy of Country Music's best new artist award in 1975. He re-released "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and it climbed to the top of the charts as well.

Fender's later years were marred by health problems resulting in a kidney transplant from his daughter, Marla Huerta Garcia, in January 2002 and a liver transplant in 2004. Fender was to have lung surgery in early 2006 until surgeons found tumors.

"I feel very comfortable in my life," Fender told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in August. "I'm one year away from 70 and I've had a good run. I really believe I'm OK. In my mind and in my heart, I feel OK. I cannot complain that I haven't lived long enough, but I'd like to live longer."

Sounds like he was a good guy. Rest in peace, amigo.

Posted by annika, Oct. 14, 2006 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Arts


Freddy was the rare celebrity I actually met. He was friends with the mother of one of my roommates. Sorry to see that he died. He was a real nice guy.

He had a great voice and I saw him perform several times in some of his old haunts in Lake Charles, La.
Houston and Galveston. I especially liked his covers of older country hits. He would either give them a little rock injection or a little Tejano twist.

Posted by: kyle8 on Oct. 15, 2006

My grandparents loved Freddy. I concur with Kyle: Great voice.

Posted by: blu on Oct. 15, 2006

In his mid-70s run, Fender also had hits with "Secret Love" and "You'll Lose a Good Thing."

Posted by: Ontario Emperor on Oct. 16, 2006

Definetly a great loss, RIP Freddy, history remembers the brave. You will be remembered.

Posted by: Atlanta on Oct. 20, 2006