Freddy Fender (June 4, 1937 - October 14, 2006)

Born Baldemar Huerta to migrant workers in San Benito, Texas, Freddy Fender is best known for his 1975 hit "Before the Next Teardrop Falls." But his career was stalled by a prison sentence for marijuana after his first hit, "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," was released in 1959.

In May 1960 Fender and a band member were arrested for possession of marijuana in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After nearly three years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary Angola prison farm, he was released through the intercession of then Governor Jimmie Davis, also a songwriter and musician. In a 1990 NPR interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Fender said that the condition for parole was to stay away from places that served alcohol, which made it difficult for him to play music live.

In 1974, Fender recorded the song "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" which subsequently became a number one hit on the Billboard Country and Pop charts. His next three singles, "Secret Love", "You'll Lose a Good Thing" and a remake of "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," all hit the number-one spot on the Billboard Country charts. Between 1975 and 1983 Fender charted a total of 21 country hits such as "Since I Met You Baby," "Vaya con Dios," "Livin' It Down," and "The Rains Came."

In 1989, Fender teamed up with fellow Tejano music/Tex-Mex musicians to form the Texas Tornados. The group released four albums and won a Grammy in 1990 for 'Best Mexican American Performance' for the track "Soy de San Luis." In the late 1990s, Fender joined another supergroup, Los Super Seven, with Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas, Flaco Jimenez, 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 disc. 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.

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