The Long and Winding Road of Jimmy González
By Ramón Hernández
Was Jimmy González trying to tell us something through his music?
Normally, this writer would say, his most ‘recent CD,’ but in this case Jimmy’s latest production was his ‘last CD.’ And, the title to the last song, which was sung by Danny Ortíz was “The Long and Winding Road.”
The previous CD was titled “Que Cante El Mundo (Mi Dolor).” Today radio stations are playing his music all day long and fans are singing along in sorrow. And before that, he included “Porque Me Gusta a Morir” (“Because I Like You till Death”). Was the multi-Grammy Award winner telling his fans – between the lines – that he loved them until he died?
Jimmy González passed to heaven’s pearly gates at 9:57 a.m. on Wednesday, June 6 at San Antonio’s Methodist Hospital. For more details, check out the articles on the Brownsville Herald and McAllen’s The Monitor newspapers via their websites.
I did call Joe López for a quote and his brother Lorenzo López, told me Joe was deeply sadden by the news. “Pobrecito,” Lorenzo said as Joe was getting ready to tape an exclusive interview with NBC News in Brownsville at 4 p.m. that same day. That interview should be on-line by the time you read this article.
Now where does one begin when one is experiencing a mental block from the shock of Jimmy’s untimely death. He was only 67. He would have been 68 on August 28 and he died only 11 days short of Father’s Day.
Okay, here goes. Jimmy and Joe López were born on the same year, the same day and only 30 minutes apart. The only difference is that Jimmy was born at home.
Both received their first guitar in 1962, first Joe, then Jimmy. Four years later, they formed Little Joe’s Group; and, in 1967, the teenagers changed their name to The Glares.
The dynamic duo graduate from Brownsville High School in May 1969. A year later, Joe joined the U.S. Army; and in his absence, Jimmy and Juan Murillo formed Brown Express.
After Joe finished his two-year stint in mid-1972, they joined the Phases club house band; and, at year’s end, Joe and Jimmy joined Bel-Air Band of Brownsville. It wasn’t long before they took control of it and modified its name to the Bel-Aire Band.
Joe, lead vocals, Jimmy, guitar; Lupe García, Noé García, Ray García, Richard Garza, Frank De La Rosa, Luis Maza, Arnold Montalvo, Bobby Rodríguez, Lupe Salinas, Leó Víllarreal and later, Juan Murillo, made up Bel-Aire Band.
In September 1973, López hung up his microphone to attend college. Meanwhile González and Murillo joined Something Easy, which featured vocalists Leó Sílva, Patsy Franco; and, they became the house band at The Resaca Club, located in the Fort Brown Hotel.
Four years later, after recording and touring with Los Fabulosos Cuatro, Joe joined Jimmy and Juan. In 1978, the band changed its name to Mazz; and, the rest is history. Eleven years later, Jimmy’s brother, Tommy, was now playing congas and saxophone with Mazz. Other members were Alfonso González, accordion; Brando Mireles, keyboards; Frankie Caballero, guitar; Robert Chávez, bass; Adolfo García on drums; and they were under the management of Joe’s brother, Lorenzo López.
As is the norm for any band, musicians came and went; as well as countless female vocalists. Joe and Jimmy first recorded with Paulino Bernal’s Bernal Records and Bob Grever’s Cara label. Then they went on to record for Capitol-EMI Latin and Freddie Records.
Those are some little known ‘facts.’ There’s enough information on the world-wide-web to fill a couple of books; and all I have is a few inches of space.
On the personal side, Jimmy had four sons with his first wife. And on May 1, 1999, he and the former Lisa De Luna exchanged wedding vows in San Antonio. He died in the Alamo City. So, perhaps the family will consider a public viewing in San Antonio.