INTERVIEW

The Birth of Tejano Part 4

Featuring: Joe Jama
Time: 2:53 minutes
Excerpt:"I was good at singing soul music, you know, and all that stuff, but I wasn’t hip to singing Tejano music, and I learned from them, you know, from Jimmy and the Latin Breed."
full transcript

Back then the discos had started happening and there was not a lot of work for groups. Everybody was going disco, so the Jesters had to make an adjustment and they had to change their format of music, style of music because if not they were going to be out of work.  They wouldn’t have made any money, so they decided to go -- that’s when they, in ’74, they decided to go into the Tejano market.

You’re taking a group, the Royal Jesters, who have played nothing but, you know, oldies, but rhythm and blues, you know, pop music back then, you know, all the top pop songs back then which were basic from black artists, and you’re asking them to go and play a style of music that we have no idea of how to play it because we had never played it before.  I had never played Tejano music before, you know, and so we were really hip to Tejano music.  You know, we, all we did was just -- when we first started learning it, all we did was actually copy Little Joe, you know, the role, Sonny and the Sun Liners, you know, ‘cause they were already, had been playing it for years.  And so we started learning music from them and just copying music, and then we started working on our, on our album, and it was rough.  

It was rough because we really didn’t have the type of groove that you needed for Tejano music back then.  So what happens is that the Latin Breed with Jimmy Edwards, they were the top band back at that time, like-- ’74, ’75.  They were the hottest group.  They were the number one band for Tejano music back then.  They were even hotter than Little Joe.  And so they, they, they talked with Henry and Oscar to take us under their wing and let us open up for them. 

It was like a family, and they taught, we learned, man, we learned the groove, the Tejano groove, from them, and I learned how to sing from Jimmy.  You know, the Tejano, Tejano music -- I was good at singing soul music, you know, and all that stuff, but I wasn’t hip to singing Tejano music, and I learned from them, you know, from Jimmy and the Latin Breed, and we -- forgive me for using the expression, but for at least five, six months, every night - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - we would get our butts kicked from Latin Breed!  Every night they’d kick our butts big time, man, because they were hot! They were the -- I mean, they had a horn section.  I mean, they, they knew their Tejano music, man, the arrangements -- I mean, I used to call them the Tejano Tower of Power.