Leonardo Jimenez, more commonly known as Flaco Jimenez and born in San Antonio, Texas in 1939, is an accordionist specializing in Conjunto, Norteno, and Tejano music. Like his father Santiago Jimenez, Sr. who began performing at a young age, Flaco started at seven years old. Claimed by Mark Deming of allmusic.com as “the foremost living exponent on Tex-Mex music” (Deming, n.d.) he first performed in the area of San Antonio alongside Doug Sahm (the founder of the Sir Douglas Quintet) and subsequently moved to New York City to work with various artists (perhaps most famously, Bob Dylan). Appearing on the world music album of Ry Cooder known as Chicken Skin Music and on the Voodoo Lounge of the Rolling Stones, his work broadened to an international audience. On a joint negotiated bill involving Peter Rowan, Jimenez returned to America with a band of his own after performing in Europe with Cooder. Formed with Rowan and a gentleman known as Wally Dragos, Jimenez was an founding member of the band known as Free Mexican Airforce.
Without sacrificing his original style of musical composition, Jimenez was responsible for “introducing traditional conjunto sound to mainstream pop and country listeners” (Deming, n.d.). While the first instrument Jimenez worked with was the bajo sexto, Mexico’s altered form of the 12-string guitar, he was soon influenced by his father to pick up and play the accordion with an expressive and joyful performance that mirrored that of his peers. For a song belonging to his father known as Ay Te Dejo en San Antonio, Jimenez was awarded a Grammy in 1986. During this time, he performed as a member of a band known as Texas Tornados; a Tejano fusion group composed of Jimenez, Sahm, and two other members known as Freddy Fender and Augie Meyer. As a band, they were awarded a Grammy in 1991 for an edited version of Meyers’ “(Hey Baby Que Paso)”; with Jimenez acquiring a second Grammy of his own several years later in 1996 for his personal album named after himself: Flaco Jimenez. During these years after reaching the pinnacle of his fame, he signed a deal with Warner Bros. to release a solo set in 1992 known as Partners; with famous guest appearance include Los Lobos. Releasing a solo set in 1994 for Arista with additional vocal work included from Raul Malo of the band known as The Mavericks, Jimenez recorded another song a year later alongside Malo. His accordion solo for the The Maverick’s Music for All Occasions album of the famous song known as “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down” continued the successful rise of Flaco’s tunes to the highest boundaries of country hits. While the 1996 Grammy earned by Jimenez was for Best Mexican-American Performance, his two consecutive 1999 Grammys that soon followed was Best Tejano Performance for the record Said and Done (personal award) and Best Mexican-American Performance (joint award as part of Los Super Seven). The group he was affiliated with (Los Super Seven) was a collection of the greatest Latin-American musicians of the time which included Joe Ely and members of the famous Los Lobos. Throughout his career, Jimenez has thus far released 13 studio albums, 1 live album known as One Night at Joey’s (1999), and 13 re-releases/compilations of his music including Best of Flaco Jimenez (1999) and Melodias (2010). Since the early 2000’s Jimenez continues to uphold his status as the leading ambassador of Tex-Mex music production, receiving a National Heritage Fellowship award in 2012 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award most recently in 2015.
- Deming, M. (n.d.) Flaco Jimenez: Artist Biography. Retrieved April 26, 2016 from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/flaco-jim%C3%A9nez-mn0000179335/biography