West Side Sound
The “West Side Sound” is a recent term referring to rhythm and blues music from the Mexican American west side of San Antonio.
It began in the early ‘50s when young Tejanos, who grew up hearing the polkas of local conjuntos and the beautiful harmonies of trios, became attracted to the sounds of national artists like Fats Domino, and of Black bands from the eastside neighborhoods of San Antonio. Bands like Mando & the Chili Peppers, The Flat-Toppers, and Rudy & the Reno Bops got their start playing covers of their favorite tunes, but the diverse musical experiences they brought to their playing helped them create a unique rhythm and blues sound of their own.
By the mid ‘60s, a vibrant scene was in full swing and bands filled the local night clubs and sock hops, and toured Mexican American communities throughout the U.S. The most popular bands were The Royal Jesters and Sunny & the Sunliners, whose singer, Sunny Ozuna, had reached national audiences with the 1963 hit “Talk to Me.” In the early 1970s, musicians moved on to other emerging sounds, paving the way for the hybrid style of music we now call tejano.