Los Tigres del Norte

2014 Los Tigres del Norte

Jorge Hernandez began his career at 18, shortly after moving from Mexico to San Jose. He formed a band with his brothers and cousin, called Los Tigres del Norte, and they released 'Contrabando y Tracion' in 1972. Mexicans in the west coast were high in population, and the song was a success in the world of Spanish pop music. Since then, Los Tigres Del Norte have made thirty records and over ten movies, while winning two Grammys.

Los Tigres del Norte explore the Mexican immigrant world of living in America. When they first started out, they sang about drug smuggling and immigration. People who had heard them in America took it back to Mexico, where the band was unknown initially. Now their name is revered from all over the U.S. to Michoacan, Guerrero, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Their music is labeled norteño as an international genre. Los Tigres expanded their music with the use of boleros, cumbias, rock rhythms, waltzes, and, of course, their infamous sound effects.

Their band was formed in the '60s when young men were leaving the corrupt life in Mexico for an opportunity to make a living. It was as though Los Tigres were telling the story for all these immigrants who were virtually voiceless at the time. They first played at the Mexican Independence Day parade in San Jose, and then they performed for the prisoners at Soledad. At the time, their oldest band member was fourteen, so they had to have a few older friends pretend to be their parents. They got their name from an officer who repeatedly called them 'little tigers.' Since they were headed north, del Norte came naturally. Los Tigres performed for San Jose's Mexican community, and a man named Art Walker (who became a popular Mexican pop artist in California) heard them. He signed the band as his first client on Fama Records, which became the most prominent Spanish record company on the West Coast. Walker provided Los Tigres everything they needed to become professional, including lessons and instruments.

At this time in San Jose, racism was flourishing, and the band found it hard to survive daily struggles. But the Mexican population was also growing and they could virtually play at any bar, business opening, or Spanish radio station. This is when 'Contrabando y Tracion,' which means Contraband and Betrayal, was released. They finally returned home to perform, and they created the follow-up 'La Banda del Carro Rojo', translated as The Red Car Gang. Their music was called narcocorrido - music that tells of drug smugglers, shootouts between narcos, police betrayals and executions. They also sang about love, with hits like 'Un Dia a la Vez'(One Day at a Time), and 'America', which won them a Grammy award.

They wanted to be the voice of their fellow immigrants and released 'Vivan los Mojados'(Long Live the Wetbacks) in 1976. The song is about what would happen to crops in America if the mojados were sent back to Mexico. "Pedro y Pablo," "El Otro Mexico" (The Other Mexico) and "Los Hijos de Hernández" all deal with the nostalgia for home and lost love. 'El Circo' was recorded in 1995, about Carlos Salinas de Gortari and his brother Raul, both corrupt leaders. After recording Asi Como Tu in 1997 and Herencia in 1999, they began to tour all over, from New York to Guadalajara playing for thousands at a time.


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