Growing up having a famous father was really not hard. My father was a very humble man. He knew where he came from and never forgot that. He also acknowledged that he had a God-given talent. Something that he understood and accepted. He didn't really plan his future but lived day by day and he let God bring whatever to him.
I never really thought of my father as being famous. To me being a musician was his job and he was good at his job. That's how I felt. We were like any other family. We argued, fussed, and fought. We also had very good times. Since my father was on tour alot our Mom was the core, heart and soul, of our family. She always made sure that we had something hot to eat and that we had a clean house. Mom was the hardest worker I ever knew. Dad , well, he was Dad. And I really just loved and appreciated him for who he was‘«™..Our Dad‘«™.until one time in history things changed‘«™
I was like 16 or 17. My father and I were at odds with everything. We argued about everything. I remember one time we didn't speak to each other for about 6 months. I did my thing and he did his. One day my Mom told me some news about my Dad. My father was good friends with an attorney by the name of Charles "Chuck" Barrera and he called my Dad one night.
Every year Mexico would bring it's caravan of stars and do a tour of the United States. This would last about a month or two. During this period Mexico owned Texas. Then they would go back home with lot's of money. The tejanos were very happy to see these Mexican stars. People like Antonio Aguilar and Flor Silvestre, Vicente Fernandez, Lucha Villa, Piporro, Juan Gabriel, King Clave, and so on.
Chuck Barrera called my father and told him about the caravana that was coming to Corpus. He told my father that El Mariachi Vargas was coming and Chuck was taking them fishing. He then told my father that it would be a good thing for him to come also. Of course my father agreed. He was going to meet the greatest Mariachi in the world. They took to the water early in the morning. The actual tour would not start for about another month. Out in the water the talk turned to music.
Chuck told Silvestre Vargas, el mero mero, about my father and mentioned that my father wrote and sang songs meant to coincide with Mariachi. Mr. Vargas was in his 80's or 90's at that time and the mariachi was celebrating their 75 anniversary. Chuck brought along an 8 track that my father recorded with mariachi and all the songs were original. After hearing the music Mr. Vargas threw my father a curve. He asked if my father had enough music for an album and if he was ready to record. He emphasized that there was no time for much practice and they only had a week to record.
My father asked him what he meant. Mr. Vargas told him that he wanted to record an album with my dad but only if my father was ready to do it now. My father said ," Yes ". The rest was history. They recorded all the mariachi within a week at Freddie Records. The rest was added on. My father included Cha cha Jimenez , Tony Delarosa, and Steve Jordan on some of the tracks. I was at some of the recordings and it was incredible to witness.
After the recording with Mariachi Vargas, and before the album was complete, my father got some more news. My Mom is telling me all this with a great look of pride on her face and her eyes sparkled like diamonds while telling me this. She added that my father got a call from one of the promoters of the caravana. One of the Mexican artist had to back out at the last minute and they needed a replacement. They offered it to my father but with conditions. It would only be about 15 to 20 minutes and he had little time to prepare with the mariachi. The Mexican artist were not too thrilled about an outsider (Tejano) being offered the opportunity. Still my father thought that he was just going to do the best that he could and sing his heart out.
My mother finished talking then said that my father's first performance would be in Corpus Christi. Then she added," it would be an honor to your father for you to be there. Really it would." I told my mom I would think about it. I went to my room and thought to myself, " WOW.. El Mariachi Vargas."
It came time for the show and I went to Corpus. I arrived at the Memorial Coliseum. The man at the door was a friend of my father's and he let me in. I found my Mom and was surprised to see my aunts there. Tia Minne and tia Petra and some of my cousins. I sat with my Mom and she said, " aren't you going to say hi to your father?" I told her that I didn't want to bother him. I looked around and the place was packed to the max. They setup the stage at the center of the Coliseum. There was several thousand people there.
I wasn't sure if my father was going to like the idea that I was there but I took a chance. I walked towards the actual stage and climbed on. The curtain was closed and when I walked back there artists were everywhere. Many were warming up their voice and what not. It was just a cacophony of sound coming from everywhere but I couldn't see my Dad. I was getting a little worried. I was back stage now and the sound of people was quieted by a wall and there were some stairs. I looked around and all of a sudden something told me that I should climb the stairs.
I took to the stairs and slowly made my way up. After about 10 steps I could see the top of some one's head. I continued to climb slowly, quietly. I didn't want to disturb anyone. As I climb to the top I saw that it was my father. He was wearing a black leather jacket and he was sitting on an old radiator heater looking out a window, deep in thought. I just stood there at the top looking at him. After about 2 minutes I guess he sensed someone and looked my way. He gave me a huge smile (I will never forget that smile‘«™.( t's hard for me to continue‘«™.Need a break). He then asked
The lights dimmed and my mother asked if I got to see my father and I nodded a "Yes." All of a sudden I heard the Mariachi trumpet start to blast the opening bars of " Como No Te de Querer". It was incredible. Gritos started from everywhere. It was dark and the people lit their lighters, just like in a rock concert. Then the unmistakable, crystal clear voice of my father singing cOmO nO tE dE quErEr. The people stood up and applauded really loud. They knew who my father was and they were applauding with pride.
My Cousin Cha Cha Jimenez was also on stage. I hadn't seen him. I kept looking around and was overwhelmed with emotion. My father, A tejano, was part of the caravana and the people voiced their approval. It only lasted about 20 minutes but when my father finished the crowd of several thousand people all stood up and gave a thunderous applause.
I looked at the curtain by the real stage and I could see many artist sticking their heads out to see who was on stage‘«™. For the first time in my life I realized that my father was indeed a star. I started to cry and so were my aunts. I wanted to yell at everyone and say , " That's my dad!". My father's performance was flawless.
Afterward my father joined us and invited everyone to go eat. I told him I was fine and that I was going home. I gave him a big hug and told him I was proud of him. I left and on the way home I thought about everything and finally acknowledged that my father was a star‘«™..But also acknowledged‘«™. He was still Daddy.