Another memory of youth is gone. How many of us actually thought we knew Spanish, because we could kind of sing along with "Before The Next Teardrop Falls"?
Here's the obit:
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Grammy Award-winning singer Freddy Fender, whose country and Hispanic-flavored music reached across ethnic boundaries to find a broad audience, died of cancer on Saturday at his Corpus Christi, Texas home, a family friend said.
Fender, 69, died quietly with his family at his bedside, friend Ron Rogers told reporters.
Fender was diagnosed with lung cancer in January and was told this summer the spreading disease was incurable.
Born Baldemar Huerta to migrant worker parents in the Texas border town of San Benito, he began singing and playing the guitar at an early age.
He is best known for a string of mid-1970s hits that included "Before the Next Teardrop Falls," "You'll Lose a Good Thing," and a remake of "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights"
When he began his career in the 1950s, two of his first records, Spanish versions of Harry Belafonte's "Jamaica Farewell" and Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" were big hits in Latin America.
But in 1959 he changed his name to Freddy Fender -- after the brand name of his guitar -- with the intent of broadening his appeal.
In 1960, he had a hit with his first version of "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," but was also busted for marijuana possession and went to prison for three years in Louisiana.
Afterwards, he worked as a mechanic, went to school and played in bars and clubs until "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" resurrected his career.
His soulful tenor struck a universal chord and the mid-1970s hits rose to the top of Billboard charts for both pop and country music.
In the 1990s, he played with the Texas Tornados and Los Super Seven, both of whom won Grammys for best Mexican-American music performance.
Fender won a third Grammy in 1992 for best Latin pop with his "La Musica de Baldemar Huerta" album.
He also acted in a number of television shows and movies, including "The Milagro Beanfield War" in 1988, directed by Robert Redford.
Fender's final years were plagued by health problems -- in 2002 he had a kidney transplant and two years later a liver transplant -- but he told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in August he had had a good life.
"I'm one year away from 70 and I've had a good run," he said. "I cannot complain that I haven't lived long enough, but I'd like to live longer."