Pioneer of Tejano Roberto “El Primo” Pulido leads this interview with his euphoric energy and is grateful to have the opportunity to share some of the memorable moments in his life’s story with Tejano Nation.
Pulido feels blessed and grateful to God and his parents for the life they gave him and what they taught him. He proudly states that he is a migrant whose roots are in Palmitas, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, where his grandparents had a large goat farm. Pulido emphasizes the importance of our culture and educates us saying that even though we are from different countries”Somos de la misma mata“. Pulido insists he doesn’t want any of us to forget our roots and wants us to know how important it is to educate our younger generation about our music and our heritage.
Growing up, Pulido faced obstacles that at a young age he didn’t even know he had. He discovered it after a horrific accident, where he was run over by a vehicle. He suffered severe nerve damage that affected his legs and his hearing, according to his doctor. Learning English for him was almost impossible without a full audition. Once able to hear, no challenge could hold him back from his future as a pioneer of Tejano music and as a leader and teacher of the newly instituted bilingual education program in the 1970s.
In 1973 Pulido graduated from college and also started his own band. He took the lowest paid job as a teacher instead of band director in high school, as it did not allow him to perform with his band due to the marching season schedule conflicting with his performances. During this time, the Bilingual Education Program was also launched for the first time on its campus. Pulido took the reins of the bilingual education program and due to its attributed success, he trained and educated other teachers who would also run this program in their schools. Later, he fell ill and due to a doctor’s orders, he had to make a heartbreaking decision. Pulido had to choose between teaching and performing with his band. As we know, he continued his career in music. Pulido did not make a profit on the first two albums. Surprisingly, her third album was a success and her musical career will take her on the journey of her life.
Pulido exclaims, “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would meet icons. I’ve gone from working in the fields picking watermelons and cantaloupes while blasting my favorite music to meeting and engaging with music legends who paved the way for us like Tony De La Rosa, Ruben Vela, Steve Jordanand Ruben Naranjo. Then coexist and share the scene with icons like Los Alegres De Tiran, Ruben Ramos, Alfonso Ramos, Little Joeand Ramon Ayala was amazing to me.
He mentions that in Edinburgh there is a Walk Of Fame in front of the Town Hall where the stars are dedicated to those who have had a major influence in the music industry of our culture like Freddie Fender, Selena, Laura Canales, The Latin Race, Little Joe and much more. Pulido states that music has a great impact on society and feels honored to have these experiences that are true to him and he will never forget them as they are part of who he is.
Roberto Pulido goes on to say that in the late 60s and early 70s accordion music was categorized as “cantina” music. He wanted to elevate accordion music by combining an orchestra style with a conjunto style to create a unique musical sound. At that time, he pioneered alto saxophone and tenor saxophone in his group. He originally played the saxophone, but due to the difficulty of playing the instrument and singing, he took up the twelve-string guitar, “la guitarra doble”, he said. He was one of the few playing the instrument in Tejano music at that time. One of the first and most popular songs was “Contigo”, which was originally a ballad. Then there was “Nunca Jamas” and many others that were hits and became popular in Mexico and the United States. He mentions, “We planted something back then and it’s still there.”
This memory brings us to a proud achievement for him. The Roberto Pulido Music Scholarship Endowment. Pulido gives back to the community by supporting young aspiring musicians who attend the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley (Edinburgh and Brownsville). It is necessary to apply and audition for the Roberto Pulido Scholarship Endowment. Pulido just wants to give back to the young community with this scholarship, especially those who are struggling financially, and most importantly to help keep our music and culture alive. You can follow the link here.
Roberto Pulido y Los Clasicos celebrate 49 years in the music industry in 2022, although he has been performing the longest since 1965 when he was fifteen. His personal music career spans over 57 years. Roberto Pulido is very proud of his musical career as well as his family and his heritage.
There is no dream too big for Roberto Pulido, once he has decided on something he wants to do, he pursues it. In 2007, Pulido was cast in a movie called mexican american also featuring Damien Chapa (Blood in, blood out), and rachel hunter (Bench heaters). Pulido said he was intrigued by how the movies worked and wanted to find out and experience it in more detail. He soon learned that it required immense dedication as he was called on set for long hours and at all hours of the day or night. He is grateful for the experience and feels privileged.
Pulido goes on to share that during the most insignificant times of the pandemic, he was out of work for a year and a half. He remembers being called to perform and opting out of the performance due to the incredible and sad death rates from COVID-19 at that time. Pulido said, “I’d rather be a live chicken than a dead rooster.”
Even though Pulido has a rich sense of humor, his voice and tone tell a serious story of sadness and fear that most of us can relate to. During this time, he works on original pieces in carved wood. Each one is unique and handcrafted by the legend himself, Roberto “El Primo” Pulido. He isn’t currently making any new pieces because the dust that rises while crafting these items is damaging his eyes, and he had eye surgery not too long ago. He made letter openers, back scratchers, and even deer horn fishing lures. These coins are priceless and if you are interested, Pulido has a few coins available for sale. You can comment below if you are interested in information on how to purchase.
For the future, Pulido envisioned writing and arranging a piece of educational bodybuilding music that encompasses multiple genres. Pulido envisions this future piece having a section dedicated to a variety of styles like Symphony, Tejano, Conjunto, Norteño, Mariachi, Boleros, Cumbia and Country. He aspires to complete this room so that future generations can study and know where their roots come from. All proceeds after production cost would go to the Roberto Pulido Music Scholarship Endowment to give back to the community and ensure our culture and traditions are passed on.
In conclusion, Roberto ‘El Primo’ Pulido has a message for all and that is to be proud of your roots whatever they may be, to educate the younger generation about our heritage and our music, and states that everyone has a special gift and we must use it and share it with others. Some have a knack for music and some have it for different professions and if you’re unhappy with your career, it’s time for a change. He leaves us this saying that his father taught him: “Son, it’s good to be important but it’s more important to be nice”. Pulido shares that it is important to help each other because no one is more important than another. He ends by saying how grateful he is to all his fans whom he considers his family.
To hear Roberto “El Primo Pulido’s story in his own captivating words, please listen to the interview below.
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