Freddy Fender releases “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”

This Week in Texas Music History Freddy Fender launches his country music comeback.

Written by Jason Mellard, Avery Armstrong and Alan Schaefer

Freddy Fender releases “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”

Jason Mellard from the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University

In June 1975, Freddy Fender released a new version of his song “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” recorded at Houston’s historic SugarHill Studios. Audiences hadn’t heard much from the velvety San Benito singer for a while. Born Baldemar Huerta, Freddy Fender launched his career in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in the 1950s as a bilingual rockabilly with Spanish-language covers of Elvis Presley and Ray Charles. He signed to Imperial Records and was launching a second chapter in his career as a Swamp Pop crooner in Louisiana when a trivial drug best yielded serious prison time. He first recorded “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” in 1959. His prison term started in 1960. 

Freddy Fender

When Fender got out, he returned to South Texas and worked as a mechanic, his music career seemingly in the rear-view mirror. In 1974, notorious producer Huey Meaux sought Fender out, and they recorded his song “When the Next Teardrop Falls” as a country ballad with Spanish verses. It struck a chord, and in 1975, Fender returned to the studio to make the iconic version of his signature tune, “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.”

Freddy Fender & Johnny Rodriguez (Left)

Fender’s country comeback ironically earned the veteran the “Most Promising Male Vocalist” award from the Academy of Country Music. Fender, along with fellow Texan Johnny Rodriguez, broke barriers for Mexican American artists in Seventies Nashville, underscoring the diverse Texas origins of country music.

The once lost Freddy Fender became a core Texas Music figure, exemplified by his later work with the Texas Tornados alongside Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, and Flaco Jimenez.  Fender passed in 2006, and in recent years South Texas artist Veronique Medrano has campaigned for Fender’s inclusion in the Country Music Hall of Fame in recognition of his brilliant artistry and trailblazing path.

Veronique Medrano in front a mural of Freddy Fender


Teresa Palomo Acosta in Laurie E. Jasinski, Gary Hartman, Casey Monahan, and Ann T. Smith, eds. The Handbook of Texas Music. Second Edition. Denton, TX: Texas State Historical Association, 2012.

Andy Bradley and Roger Wood. House of Hits: The Story of Houston’s Gold Star/SugarHill Recording Studios. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010. 

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