Singer Freddy Fender died of lung cancer Saturday, October 14, at his home in Corpus Christi, Texas. He was 69. During a career that spanned more than four decades, Fender enjoyed success in pop, Country and Tejano music.
Born Baldemar Huerta, the son of migrant workers in San Benito, Texas, Freddy Fender was 23 years old when he earned his first taste of success with "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights." Although the single was released in 1960, Freddy would have to wait 15 years to see it top the Country chart. Soon after the song's release, he and his bass player were arrested for possession of marijuana, and sent to prison for two years. After serving his jail sentence, Freddy worked as a mechanic in New Orleans, but continued to play music on the weekends. By the early-1970s, he was back in the recording studio, making a string of Number One Country hits that included "Before the Next Teardrop Falls, "Secret Love," "You'll Lose A Good Thing" and a chart-topping remake of "Wasted Days and "Wasted Nights."
Freddy's success on the Country charted faded in the 1980s. But, a decade later, he began a new chapter in his career as a member of the Grammy-winning Tejano band, the Texas Tornados.
The Texas Tornados also featured Flaco Jimenez, Augie Meyer and the late Doug Sahm. Together, they blended rock, Country and various Mexican styles into their songs.
In addition to his music, Freddy also earned critical acclaim for his roles in various television and motion picture projects. They included an appearance in Robert Redford's 1988 Oscar-winning film, The Milagro Beanfield War.
During the past several years, Freddy Fender faced a number of health problems, including diabetes and hepatitis C. In 2002, he underwent a kidney transplant, and, two years later, received a liver transplant. Last January, Freddy was diagnosed with lung cancer and began chemotherapy treatments. Severe side effects led him to stop the treatments, and in June, doctors found several more lung tumors. Soon after learning that the disease had spread, Freddy said, "I feel very comfortable in my life. I'm one year away from 70 and I've had a good run … I cannot complain that I haven't lived long enough, but I'd like to live longer."
Legendary musician Freddy Fender lost his battle with cancer on October 14.