the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center,
the Arhoolie Foundation,
and the UCLA Digital Library
Flaco Jimenez, the great Tex-Mex accordion player who brought international attention to a genre often overlooked by the mainstream music industry, was honored recently with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Recording Academy. Jimenez, 75, became one of only five Latin American or Spanish artists to ever receive the award in more than 50 years. Past winners include Brasil’s Antonio Carlos Jobim (2012), Mexico’s Armando Manzanero (2014), Puerto Rico’s Tito Puente (2003) and Spain’s Andrés Segovia (1986).
Jimenez was honored during an invitation-only event held in Los Angeles during Grammy week in February of 2014. He shared this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award with six other recipients from various genres: The Bee Gees, Pierre Boulez, Buddy Guy, George Harrison, the Louvin Brothers, and Wayne Shorter.
Flaco, as he is known, was born Leonardo Jimenez in San Antonio, Texas, the cradle of conjunto music. He is the son of Santiago Jimenez, another legendary figure in the development of accordion-based Tex-Mex music. The talented Jimenez family is well represented in the Frontera Collection, with numerous recordings by Santiago Jimenez and his two sons, Flaco and Santiago Jr.
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes artists that NARAS president Neil Portnow called “talented trailblazers whose incomparable bodies of work and timeless legacies will continue to be celebrated for generations to come."
Past recipients comprise an exclusive pantheon of musicians, including Louis Armstrong (1972), The Beatles (2014), Irving Berlin (1968), Chuck Berry (1984), Miles Davis (1990), Bob Dylan (1991), Lightnin' Hopkins (2013), Michael Jackson (2010), Elvis Presley (1971) and Frank Sinatra (1965).