Freddy Fender

Early Years

Born in San Benito

In June of 1937, Baldemar Huerta was born in San Benito, TX. His parents were migrant laborers in the fields of the Midwest and South. From summer to late fall, migrant workers could be found from Maine to Arkansas picking vegetables and fruits. When Baldemar was old enough to drag a bushel basket down the row of the field, he too was there during 'pickin' time'.

Back in San Benito, although he arrived late every year from 'up North', Baldemar made the best of his early years in school while learning to survive on the streets.

At age 10 he made his first appearence on the KGBT radio singing his rendition of a current hit of the day. He also won an amateur talent contest at the Grand Theater in Harlingen with a first prize of ten dollars in food.

At age 16, ranbunctious and looking to see the world beyond San Benito, young Baldemar joined the Marines for a three year hitch.

After his hitch in the Marines, he started playing the South Texas honky tonks and dance halls. Soon he recorded Spanish versions of Elvis' "Don't be Cruel" and Harry Belafonte's "Jamaica Farewell" on Falcon Records.

By 1959, Imperial Records was calling wanting to sign this budding talent. In hopes of reaching the mainstream American audience, Baldemar Huerta became Freddy Fender.

In 1960, "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" became a national hit. The song title proved to be prophetic for Freddy. The rising star of Freddy Fender was stolen that year when he and his bass player were arrested in Louisiana and sentenced to three years in prison for possession of two marijuana cigarettes.

After prison, Feddy spent the next five years in New Orleans playing the clubs and developing his interests in rythum and blues and cajun funk.

By 1964, Fender had returned home to the Valley. Playing on the weekends, he enrolled at Del Mar College and worked as a mechanic to support his family.

After several years of only regional success, Freddy Fender would have a second chance for his music to be heard by the world. In 1975, he cut "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" in Houston. The master was bought by ABC-Dot and on April 8, 1975, for the first time in music history, a single record recording would capture the Number One spot on both the country and popular music charts.

The remake of "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" followed "Teardrop" to Number One while his third ("Secret Love"), and fourth release ("You'll Lose a Good Thing") also hit the top spot. The album went multi-platinum worldwide.

Named by Billboard magazine as "Best Male Artist of 1975", Freddy Fender had finally achieved the success that always seemed within his grasp.

The broad appeal of Freddy Fender and the magnetic personality of this superstar was reinforced by his continued success in television, movies, and his music.

In the 1987 Robert Reford epic "Milagro Beanfield War", Freddy's breakthrough performance received critical acclaimed while other film performances in "Short Eyes", "She Came To The Valley", and "La Pastorela" have helped build his portfolio as a diverse and unusual talent.

Freddy Fender has taken the world by storm again in the '90s with his Grammy in 1990 and his Grammy nomination in 1996 for "Little Bit Is Better Than Nada" tune from the movie "Tin Cup".

Freedy's current project is a collaborative effort with Los Super Seven, a Mexican roots supergroup featuring traditional Mexican folk songs with a contemporary flavor. Did someone say Grammy again?

Home