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Sunnyside man’s love of Tejano music earns him a place in history

John B. Gonzales has been selected for induction into the Tejano Roots Music Hall of Fame. He is one of 13 Tejano aficionados being named as role models of the traditional Mexican country western style music.

Photo by Julia Hart.
John B. Gonzales has been selected for induction into the Tejano Roots Music Hall of Fame. He is one of 13 Tejano aficionados being named as role models of the traditional Mexican country western style music.

John B. Gonzales remembers singing while working in the fields with his sisters as a little boy near Robstown, Texas.

“My whole family was musical,” said Gonzales, who’s looking forward to being honored this coming January for his career in the local Tejano music community.

Having taught himself to play drums and guitar at an early age, Gonzales is very excited about his nomination to the Tejano Roots Music Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be held in Alice, Texas on Jan. 4, 2014.

“I’m traveling to Alice to accept my place in the hall of fame as a bass guitar player,” said the 69-year-old Sunnyside man.

Gonzales, who has been in the music business for most of the past 50 years, is one of 13 Tejano musicians being accepted into the hall of fame and one of only two musicians from Washington state chosen for the honor.

“My friends Juan Barco of Brier, a bajo sexto player and I are the only two players from the state to be nominated this year,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales, who has rubbed elbows with many of the well known Tejano musicians over the years, is planning to take his vintage Fender guitar with him to play at the pre-induction ball being held at the Hall of Fame and adjoining music museum.

Gonzales, who describes Tejano music as a Mexican country western style of music, has also played in local and regional mariachi bands, as well as being a composer. He still plays with Los Emocionantes, a popular regional band.

“We play at weddings, quinceaneras and local events in the Tri-Cities, Moses Lake and as far away as Caldwell, Idaho,” Gonzales said. He has also played in Texas and California and parts of the Midwest.

During his years in the music field, Gonzales considers himself fortunate to have met and played with such music notables as Eloy, Paulino and Luis Bernal, Manuel, Joe and Juan Soliz, and his closest friend, Ruben Loredo, with whom he has played for many years.

Last year, Loredo was inducted into the Hall of Fame, in the accordion category, Gonzales said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him again,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales, who works for the Yakima Valley Farm Workers’ energy assistance program, has donated much of his free time to music, playing at benefit concerts, speaking to future musicians and generally sharing his love of the Tejano music.

In 1986, he helped organize a benefit to aid the victims of the Mexico City earthquake. He is frequently asked to talk about the history and roots of Tejano music at colleges, and throughout the Northwest and California.

“I enjoy being an ambassador of the Tejano music style,” he said.

Gonzales said he is looking forward to sharing this Hall of Fame experiences with his wife Diane, and his children, Irene Tomlin, Eloy Gonzales and Emmett Gonzales.

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