Farm workers and the poor favoured folk music, or conjunto (accordion-fuelled dance music); more affluent, urban Latinos preferred Mexican versions of Anglo big-band tunes and waltzes. In the early 1950s, Lopez began boldly mingling them. While always a Latino genre, his hybrid came to be recognised as a flowering of Texas's blooming Chicano culture. Lopez began recording in the late 1940s, initially playing saxophone with the big Mexican bands then popular around the US southwest. While a member of the Juan Colorado Orchestra in 1954, he got the chance to record his own song, Diganle, when the appointed vocalist failed to appear.
"Forget the other guy," said Colorado afterwards, "from now on, you are our singer." In 1956, Lopez formed his own Isidro Lopez Orchestra, and began the intense schedule of recording and touring he would maintain for the next 20 years. His orchestra quickly established itself as the leading Mexican-American ensemble, with its leader ensuring his dominance by employing many of Texas's finest Mexican-American musicians. And while incorporating elements of jump jazz, Cuban boleros, rock'n'roll, mariachi ballads, country music and pop flavours, he never lost his Mexican roots, proudly blending supposedly "low-class" Mexican music forms with popular mainstream American styles. His ability to sing as smoothly as Frank Sinatra was often noted. Lopez's hits included Mi Rosita, Todo O Nada, Por Tu Carino and Corazon del Pueblo. By adding two accordions to his orchestra, and singing with great finesse, he established the template from which modern Tejano music would flow. He toured widely across the US, helping to popularise Tejano music; today, Mexican music accounts for 60% of all Latin music sold in the US, and leading Tejano artists are signed to multinational recording companies, their sales often matching those of Anglo-American artists. Lopez continued to record until the late 1970s, when he went into semi-retirement.
He recorded with such internationally known younger Tejano artists as Freddy Fender, Flaco Jimenez and Steve Jordan. In 1983, he was inducted into the Tejano Music Award's Hall Of Fame. "Nobody sang like him," said Freddy Fender. "He had a special way of chopping a syllable, playing with the time left in between. In the middle of a line, if a word was supposed to come in very soon, he would wait until the last second, and boom!" Lopez was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the late 1990s, and benefit concerts were held to help defray medical expenses.
He suffered a stroke and went into a coma and died aged 75. His wife and six children survive him. · Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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