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Armando Marroquín works in his studio in Alice, Texas. As cofounder of Ideal Records, he recorded and promoted the music of many South Texas artists, including his wife Carmen and sister-in-law Laura as the duet Carmen y Laura. Carmen Marroquín Collection, Texas Music Museum
MARROQUÍN, ARMANDO (1912–1990). Armando Marroquín, Tejano music recording businessman, was born on September 12, 1912, in Alice, Texas, to Luciano and Anita (Solís) Marroquín. He grew up in South Texas and studied for two years at Texas A&I University in Kingsville. Afterwards, he worked for a time as a teacher in South Texas. On November 20, 1936, Marroquín married Carmen Hernández, who became part of the famous duet Carmen y Laura (see TEJANA SINGERS). The Marroquíns had two sons.
In Alice, Marroquín set up a jukebox business, but was frustrated by the lack of available Mexican-American records. In 1946 he started Four Star Records in the family's home, using the kitchen as a recording studio. Later he set up the house garage as the recording studio. One of the first Four Star recordings featured Carmen y Laura singing "Se Me Fue Mi Amor" ("My Love Went Away"). The flip side was entitled "Quisiera volar" ("I Wish I Could Fly"). The record, which recalled wartime sentiments, was an immediate hit.
A few months later Marroquín and Paco Betancourt, a South Texas distributor for RCA and Columbia, established Ideal Records. They transported the recording studio to Reynolds Street in Alice, where they could work without interfering with the family's routine. Over the next decade, with Betancourt's Rio Grande Music Company providing distribution, Ideal Records helped establish a vital Tejano music industry, recording all the important Texas Mexican musicians, including Narciso Martínez, Chelo Silva, Valerio Longoria, Carmen y Laura, Paulino Bernal, and many more.
Marroquín was an enthusiastic entrepreneur, intent on popularizing the vocalists and musicians he recorded, so he organized road tours of Carmen y Laura, one of his most prominent groups. He set up and managed at least three tours in the Southwest and Midwest, the first in 1951, a second in 1954, and a third one in the late 1950s. According to Carmen Marroquín, Beto Villa and his orchestra accompanied them on some of the tours. She also recalled that, in some cases, they determined which cities to play, typically for only one night per city, by consulting a map of their route. They then selected their stops, often the next city on their route.
In 1959 Marroquín and Betancourt parted ways. Marroquín operated La Villita, an open-air dance platform in Alice, where he featured top Tejano musicians. La Villita was later covered and transformed into a 700-seat ballroom. Marroquín also continued to work as a record producer, establishing his third and final company, Nopal Records, to record Tejano musicians through the 1970s, after which the Tejano music market waned.
In the 1980s Marroquín was struck with Alzheimer's disease. He died on July 4, 1990, and was buried in Alice. La Villita was closed during his illness. After his death Carmen Marroquín reopened it to host Tejano musicians and dances. In 1990 Chris Strachwitz, owner of Arhoolie Records, purchased all the masters of Ideal Records, thereby preserving many pioneering Tejano and Conjunto recordings. Compilations have subsequently been reissued. With the resurgence of Tejano music and its expansion to international markets beginning in the 1990s, Marroquín's pioneering work has been recognized by new generations of artists in the industry. In 1991 he was inducted into the Conjunto Hall of Fame, and he was one of the inaugural inductees into the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2007 he was inducted into the South Texas Music Walk of Fame. That same year he was also inducted into the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame in San Benito.
Manuel Peña, Música Tejana: The Cultural Economy of Artistic Transformation (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999). Manuel Peña, The Texas-Mexican Conjunto: History of a Working-Class Music (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985). Chris Strachwitz, "The Roots of Tejano and Conjunto Music," 1991 (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/benson/border/arhoolie2/raices.html), accessed April 22, 2008. Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio, 1991 (San Antonio: Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, 1991). "Tejano Roots / Raíces Tejanas: The Women (1946–1970)," Tejano Roots (El Cerrito, California: Arhoolie Records, 1991).
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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, Teresa Palomo Acosta, "MARROQUIN, ARMANDO," accessed June 19, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmann.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on September 14, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.