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GARZES, DANIEL ZUÑIGA, SR.

Daniel Garzes
For his contributions to conjunto music, songwriter and musician Daniel Garzes has been inducted into several halls of fame, including the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame in San Benito in 2011. Texas Music Museum.

GARZES, DANIEL ZUÑIGA, SR. (1920–2004). Daniel Garzes, singer, guitarist, and songwriter, made major contributions to conjunto music from the late 1940s through the early 1960s. He was born on September 23, 1920, in Meyersville, DeWitt County, Texas, to Beatris Zuñiga. Beatris had immigrated to Texas in 1913 during the Mexican Revolution. On March 13, 1925, she married Florencio Garzes, and the 1930 United States census listed Florencio as a farmer living in Karnes County. The household included his wife Beatris, three children, and three stepchildren (including Daniel). Daniel worked in the fields with his family and received a grammar school education. He learned to play the guitar when he was twelve years old from Florencio, who also played violin. When Daniel Garzes was about fifteen years old, he started playing with several friends in the small South Texas towns around Victoria and wrote his own songs. 

Los Tres Reyes
Los Tres Reyes (left to right): Daniel Garzes, Raul Moreno, and Ambrosio "Bocho" Rodriguez. The popular conjunto recorded for several record labels in the 1950s and was one of the earliest conjuntos to tour outside of Texas. Texas Music Museum.

On September 12, 1942, Garzes began service as a private in the United States Army. He served through the end of World War II and, while stationed in Europe, reportedly performed music at military functions. On May 28, 1947, Garzes married Rita Vasquez (in Bad Axe, Michigan). He returned to Texas and made San Antonio his home. By the early 1950s Garzes had formed a conjunto with Ambrosio “Bocho” Rodríguez and Raul Moreno. Around the time of their first recording, the group was playing at a club called the “Three Kings,” and they took the name “Los Tres Reyes de Daniel Garzes.” The conjunto first recorded on the Rio label, followed by Corona, Ideal, Falcon, and others. Los Tres Reyes toured extensively around the United States and was one of the earliest conjuntos to tour outside of Texas. Garzes, who wrote more than 500 songs during his lifetime, broadened the conjunto music style by writing and playing boleros, cumbias, and corridos, which some people believed could not be played on the accordion. Garzes emphasized the importance of corridos that tell a story, and his contribution as a songwriter made him well known in the United States, Mexico, and Spain. His most famous song, “Los Pizcadores” (“The Cottonpickers”), was inspired by his early experiences as a field worker. This song recreates the experience of working in the cotton fields and is played in a vibrant, lively style. Other compositions of his include “Te Busqué,” “Ya llego la Primavera.” “Mujer Paseada,” and “Espero tu Regreso.” 

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Beginning in 1961 Garzes quit touring and sold insurance for his living, but he returned to music after his retirement in the 1980s. For his contributions to conjunto music he was inducted into the Tejano Music Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Conjunto Hall of Fame in 1987. Daniel Garzes died in San Antonio on April 13, 2004, and was buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. His wife Rita had preceded him in death. He was survived by two daughters and one son. On August 27, 2005, the inaugural program of a new series, “Legends at the Alameda,” at the Alameda Theater in San Antonio featured a tribute to Garzes. He was inducted into the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Daniel Garzes, Interview by Clay Shorkey and Rudy Martinez, San Antonio, Texas, September 17, 1986. “Daniel Garzes 1920–2004,” Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum (http://www.texasconjuntomusic.org/images/inductees/daniel_garzes_page.jpg), accessed March 30, 2016. La Prensa, May 12, 2004. Manuel Peña, The Texas-Mexican Conjunto: History of a Working-Class Music (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985). San Antonio Express-News, September 9, 2005. Juan Tejeda and Avelardo Valdez. eds., ¡Puro Conjunto! An Album in Words and Pictures (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001). 

Clayton T. Shorkey and Laurie E. Jasinski

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Clayton T. Shorkey and Laurie E. Jasinski, "Garzes, Daniel ZuÑiga, Sr. ," accessed October 19, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgarz.

Uploaded on April 6, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.