Clayton T. Shorkey

Miguel Mike Ornelas
Orquesta leader Mike Ornelas. María Ornelas Collection, Texas Music Museum.

ORNELAS, MIGUEL HUMBERTO [MIKE] (1912–1983). Mike Ornelas, pianist and orquesta leader, was born Miguel Humberto Ornelas on January 1, 1912, in Camargo, Mexico, and was brought to Laredo when he was four years old. His family operated the popular El Gallo Bakery. When he was six years old he started piano. By the age of twelve, he was playing with local orchestras.

Mike Ornelas and his Orquesta
Mike Ornelas and his Orquesta. María Ornelas Collection, Texas Music Museum.

Ornelas started his own band in 1927. He later moved to Del Rio for four years and then returned to Laredo in 1936. During the 1930s and early 1940s he traveled with his band to the West Coast, Southwest, and Midwest as Mike Ornelas and his Orquesta. During World War II he entertained the troops with USO shows. After the war he continued to play keyboards, sing, and lead his band. He recorded with Ideal Records, based in Alice, and Falcon Records in McAllen. Ornelas was inducted into the Tejano Music Hall of Fame in 1981.

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He moved to San Antonio about 1975 and died there on September 7, 1983. He was survived by his first wife Maria del Refugio Ornelas, their three sons and four daughters, and his second wife Anita Ornelas. He was buried in Chapel Hill Memorial Park in San Antonio. One of his sons, René Ornelas (known as René René), who had started out with his father’s orquesta, became a well-known musician in his own right.


San Antonio Express-News, September 9, 1983.

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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, "ORNELAS, MIGUEL HUMBERTO [MIKE]," accessed June 18, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/for13.

Uploaded on July 13, 2015. Modified on October 25, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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