The Mexican musician known as Ramon Ayala was born Ramon Covarrubias Garza in 1945. He is most well known for playing the accordion, and he is not only a skilled musician but also a talented singer and composer. In fact, Ayala has recorded no less than 113 albums. An award winning musician, he has four Grammys and counting under his belt. The style of music that he is most well known for, norteño music, is highly associated with the accordion as well as with rhythmic dances and songs like the polka.
Early music career and music style.
Ayala was born in the north east of Mexico, in the city of Monterrey. Flanked by mountains, this city is situated in the state of Nuevo Leon. He learnt to play the accordion at the age of 5 and then began his life as a serious musician by playing in several bands. The first band that he joined was known as Los Jilgueros de Marin. Then, he joined a group known as Los Pavorreales (i.e. ‘The Peacocks’ in Spanish). He did all of this whilst still a teenager, and at the time became known for helping to invent a modern style of music known as conjunto (some say he practically did invent it single handedly). He came to particular prominence when, in the 1960s, he teamed up with Cornelio Reyna. Reyna was a guitar player and a vocalist who later became known as a solo mariachi singer. Reyna and Ayala teamed up to form a norteño band known as Los Relampagos del Norte. They were a hit!
First hit single.
Ayala’s first hit single came when he was still a member of Los Relampagos del Norte. This single was recorded in 1963 and was called ‘Ya no llores’, which translates roughly as ‘Don’t cry!’ This was just the start for the duo, who released over 20 albums together. Whilst many of their songs were true originals, written from scratch, others were covers of classic Latin tunes. In this way Ayala and Reyna helped to transform the existing face of Latin music. In their turn, hit songs by Los Relampagos del Norte are still covered to this day by other Latin musicians.
In 1971, Ayala decided to go solo. He began a career as a ranchero musician, a big step for him and the beginning of a whole new stage in his career. 1971 was the year that Ayala started his own band, where he was the front man with a group of backing musicians. This band was called Ramon Ayala y sus Bravos del Norte. Members of this band came and went, but as a whole the band was hugely popular.
The present day.
Ayala moved to Hidalgo in Texas, where he still resides. Is he still going strong as a musician? Absolutely: he is a true star of Latin music and is famous far and wide outside of Latin America too. In fact, head down to Hidalgo for yourself and you will see that this town even has a street named after Ramon Ayala, one of its most famous and cherished residents.