June 4: Freddy Fender - "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” – "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" - was born on this date in 1937…

… he died on October 14, 2006.

Born Baldemar Garza Huerta in San Benito, Texas, Freddy Fender Born was a Mexican-American Tejano, country and rock and roll musician, known for his work as a solo artist and in the groups Los Super Seven and the Texas Tornados.

He is best known for his 1975 hits "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.”

Fender made his first radio appearance at age 10 on Harlingen's KGBS-AM radio station KGBT, when he sang "Paloma Querida.” In January 1954, at age 16, Fender quit school, and when he turned 17 he enlisted for three years in the United States Marine Corps. However, he was court-martialed in August 1956 and was discharged with rank of Private. He returned to Texas and played nightclubs, bars and honky-tonks throughout the south, mostly to Latino audiences.

In 1957, then known as El Bebop Kid, he released two songs to moderate success in Mexico and South America: Spanish-language versions of Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" (as "No Seas Cruel") and Harry Belafonte's "Jamaica Farewell." He also recorded his own Spanish version of Hank Williams's "Cold Cold Heart" under the title "Tu Frio Corazon.”

He became known for his rockabilly music and his cool persona as Eddie Con Los Shades. In 1958, he legally changed his name from Baldemar Huerta to Freddy Fender. He took Fender from the guitar and amplifier, and Freddy because the alliteration sounded good and would .”..sell better with Gringos!" He then moved to California.

In 1959, Fender recorded the blues ballad "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.” The song was a hit, but he was beset by legal troubles in May 1960 after he and a band member were arrested for possession of marijuana in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

After serving nearly three years in the Angola prison farm, he was released through the intercession of then Governor Jimmie Davis, also a songwriter and musician. Davis requested that Fender stay away from music while on probation as a condition of his release. By the end of the 1960s, Fender was back in Texas working as a mechanic, and attending a local junior college, while only playing music on the weekends.

In 1974, Fender recorded "Before the Next Teardrop Falls.” The single became a number one hit on the Billboard Country and Pop charts. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in May 1975. His next three singles, "Secret Love,” "You'll Lose a Good Thing" and a remake of "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,” all reached number-one on the Billboard Country charts.

Between 1975 and 1983, Fender charted 21 country hits, including "Since I Met You Baby,” "Vaya con Dios,” "Livin' It Down,” and "The Rains Came.” "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" became Fender's second million-selling single, with the gold disc presentation taking place in September 1975.

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Greatest Hits


Fender also was successful on the pop charts. Besides "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" reaching number 1 on the pop charts in May 1975, "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights" went into the pop top 10 and "Secret Love" into the top 20. "Since I Met You Baby,” "You'll Lose A Good Thing" (his last pop top 40), "Vaya Con Dios,” and "Livin' It Down" (his last to reach the pop top 100) all did well on the pop charts.

While notable for his genre-crossing appeal, several of Fender's hits featured verses or choruses in Spanish. Bilingual songs seldom hit the pop charts, and when they did it was because of novelty. Bilingual songs reaching the country charts was even more unusual.

Fender was heavily influenced by the swamp pop sound from southern Louisiana and southeast Texas, as illustrated on his 1978 album Swamp Gold.  "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,” has a typical swamp pop ballad arrangement. Fender associated with swamp pop musicians like Paul C Saenz, Joe Barry and Rod Bernard, and issued many recordings on labels owned by Huey Meaux, a Cajun who specialized in swamp pop.

The Texas Tornadoes
In 1989, Fender teamed up with fellow Tex-Mex musicians Doug Sahm, Flaco Jiménez, and Augie Meyers to form the Texas Tornados, whose work meshed conjunto, Tejano, R&B, country, and blues. The group released four albums and won a Grammy in 1990 for 'Best Mexican American Performance' for the track "Soy de San Luis. "You've heard of New Kids on the Block?,” Fender said at the time. “Well, we're the Old Guys in the Street.”

Following the death of Sahm, the Tornados' production slowed. A live 1990 appearance on TV's Austin City Limits, one of three the group made, was released in 2005 as part of the Live From Austin, Texas series.

Los Super Seven
In the late 1990s, Fender joined another supergroup, Los Super Seven, with Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas, Flaco Jiménez, Ruben Ramos, Joe Ely, and country singer Rick Trevino. The group won a 1998 Grammy in the Mexican-American Performance category for their self-titled album.

In 2001, Fender made his final studio recording, a collection of classic Mexican boleros titled La Música de Baldemar Huerta that brought him a third Grammy award, this time in the category of Latin Pop Album.

Fender underwent a kidney transplant in 2002 donated by his daughter and a transplant of the liver in 2004. Nonetheless, his condition continued to worsen. He was suffering from an "incurable cancer" in which he had tumors on his lungs. On December 31, 2005, Fender performed his last concert and resumed chemotherapy.

He died in 2006 at the age of 69 of lung cancer at his home in Corpus Christi, Texas.