Saturday, October 14, 2006

Freddy Fender RIP

One of the all-time greats from Texas--or anywhere else--has died. From CNN:
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.

Fender, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 2006, died at noon at his home in Corpus Christi, Texas, with his family at his bedside, said Ron Rogers, a family spokesman.

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

Fender hit it big in 1975 after some regional success, years of struggling -- and a stint in prison -- when "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" climbed to No. 1 on the pop and country charts.

"Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" rose to No. 1 on the country chart and top 10 on the pop chart that same year, while "Secret Love" and "You'll Lose a Good Thing" also hit No. 1 in the country charts.

Born Baldemar Huerta, Fender was proud of his Mexican-American heritage and frequently sung verses or whole songs in Spanish. "Teardrop" had a verse in Spanish.

"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."'

"The Old Man upstairs rolled a seven on me," he told The Associated Press in 1975. "I hope he keeps it up."

More recently, he played with Doug Sahm, Flaco Jimenez and others in two Tex-Mex all-star combos, the Texas Tornados and Los Super Seven.

He won a Grammy of Best Latin Pop Album in 2002 for "La Musica de Baldemar Huerta." He also shared in two Grammys: with the Texas Tornados, which won in 1990 for best Mexican-American performance for "Soy de San Luis," and with Los Super Seven in the same category in 1998 for "Los Super Seven."

Among his other achievements, Fender appeared in the 1987 motion picture "The Milagro Beanfield War," directed by Robert Redford.

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 said in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press that one thing would make his musical career complete -- induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

"Hopefully I'll be the first Mexican-American going into Hillbilly Heaven," he said.

What a loss for music-lovers everywhere...but I'm pretty sure if there is a Hillbilly Heaven, Freddy made it in.

1 comment:

backwoodsmadam said...

You are so right, Jennifer. I'm sure Freddy really IS in Hillbilly Heaven. "Teardrop" is such a wonderful song. What person wouldn't want someone by their side just like that song says?

Rest In Peace, Sweet Man!