While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Clayton T. Shorkey
Ruben Naranjo
Photograph, Ruben Naranjo. Image courtesy of the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

NARANJO, RUBEN (1945–1998). An exponent of the traditional conjunto style, singer and accordionist Ruben Naranjo was born on February 22, 1945, in Alice, Texas. He began playing the bajo sexto at the age of fifteen but switched to the accordion in 1962 when accordionist Chano Cadena asked him to join his group as second accordionist. Ten years later Naranjo formed his group Ruben Naranjo y Los Gamblers and began touring. In the middle 1970s he began recording on Zarape Records out of Dallas. His first big success came with "La Estrella," a song that immediately became a hit and gave a boost to his career. With touring and widespread radio airplay, Naranjo earned the reputation as one of the most talented accordionists in South Texas. Many hit recordings followed including "Dulce Adorada," "Besos Callejeros," "Dos Caracoles," "Trienta Copas," and others. He released more than twenty albums, many for Freddie Records and La Hacienda Records of Corpus Christi. His popularity peaked in the 1980s.

Listen to this artist

A humble and gentlemanly performer, Naranjo was known for his Clark Gable-like good looks and called by fans "El Hijo del Pueblo" (“The Son of the Town”). He was also affectionately known as “El Si Senor,” because he often cried out “Si, senor!” during his performances. On October 12, 1998, he died unexpectedly at the age of fifty-three soon after playing at La Villita in his hometown of Alice. A funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Joseph Catholic Church, and he was buried in New Collins Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Minerva, four children, and his mother Leonor Jacobo Naranjo. Son Ricky Naranjo carried on his father’s accordion tradition with Los Gamblers and, beginning in 1999, headlined an annual daylong festival in Alice, the Ruben Naranjo Memorial Festival. Ruben Naranjo was inducted into the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Conjunto Music Hall of Fame in 2007. He was inducted into the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame in San Benito in 2010.


Austin American-Statesman, October 13, 1998. Corpus Christi Caller-Times, October 13, 1998. Special Tribute To Ruben Naranjo (http://www.ondanet.com/tejano/artists/Ruben.Naranjo/Tribute.html), accessed July 1, 2011.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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, "NARANJO, RUBEN ," accessed July 14, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fna26.

Uploaded on June 17, 2015. Modified on August 3, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...