Freddy Fender. (Photo credit: Reprise Records)

SAN BENITO, Texas – June 4, 1937, was the birthdate of Baldemar Huerta, better known to the world of rock and roll and county music as Freddy Fender.

The San Benito-born singer, guitarist and songwriter made his debut radio performance at age 10 on the Harlingen radio station KGBT singing a then-hit, “Paloma Querida.”

The Grammy-Award winner had worldwide hit singles on the pop charts in the mid-1970s with songs such as ‘Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,’ and ‘Before the Next Teardrop Falls.’

Fender died of cancer at his home in Corpus Christi at the age of 69 in 2006. In an obituary in the Houston Chronicle, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons said Fender was “a giant of Texas music.”

Gibbons said: “That strange blend of rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, blues and barrio sounds unlike any other.”

Fender is buried in San Benito. Its city commission honored him by putting his name and image on a water tower along I-69 East. There was also a Freddy Fender Museum in the city for a number of years.

As a tribute timed for his birthday, former mayor Celeste Sanchez featured Fender in a Facebook video. She said: “Freddy Fender was down to earth, humble, and always told funny stories about himself. Who knows how true those stories were. Happy Birthday, Freddy Fender. You will live forever in our memories and in our hearts. Thank you for your music and thank you for your love of San Benito.”

Here is the video:

Editor’s Note: For more Facebook videos by Celeste Sanchez click here.

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