Austin Tejano Legend Roy Montelongo Born

Maile Carballo / KUTX
TWITMH #21: Roy Montelongo Born / Produced by Jack Anderson

On September 21, 1938 Roy Montelongo was born in Hays County. His family soon moved into Austin. Roy learned saxophone both from his father, a veteran player with Beto Villa’s band, and from the school band at Austin High. At fifteen, Roy himself joined Beto Villa’s group, and also played as a young man with Isidro Lopez, Manuel “Cowboy” Donley, and Alfonso Ramos. Montelongo’s midcentury orquesta sound fused the ranchera stylings of música tejana with the era’s big band jazz, making for a formidable Texas dance music that crossed multiple genres. In 1964, Montelongo launched his own band and recorded with Austin’s influential Valmon Records, based on Sixth Street.

Montelongo would go on to record over twenty albums, including several on his own label, Texas Records. His leadership in the scene extended beyond playing to his work as a radio deejay and community advocate. The Conjunto Music Hall of Fame inducted Montelongo in 1991, the year of his last live performances in Austin’s Legends of Tejano Music Tour.  In 2006, the city insured that his legend would long resonate in the city, commissioning a Roy Montelongo memorial sculpture on the Trail of Tejano Music along Lady Bird Lake.

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