LITTLE JOE MUSICAL BIO
Jose Maria DeLeon Hernandez “Little Joe” was born to Salvador “La Cotorra” Hernandez and Amelia DeLeon Hernandez in a one room dirt floor shack in Temple, Texas on a cold and stormy night on October 17, 1940. He was the seventh child of thirteen. In 1953, Joeʼs cousin, David Coronado, who fronted a band called “David Coronado & The Latinaires” recruited Joe for guitar, Cino Moreno for drums and Tony Matamoros on saxophone to join his band.
In 1955, Joe would play his first paying performance in Cameron, Texas for $5.00 at a high school Sock Hop. He was so excited, he realized that picking guitars beat picking cotton and he could actually get paid for it.
In 1958, Joe would make his recording debut as a guitarist for Terrero Records in Corpus Christi, Texas, an instrumental single “Safari Part I & II” which was composed by all members of the Latinaires.
In 1959, Jesse, Joeʼs younger brother who was the bassist, singer and songwriter would join the band as David Coronado was leaving. Joe took over the band renaming it, “Little Joe & The Latinaires”.
In 1964, Jesse was killed in an automobile accident. Joe then made a vow at Jesseʼs graveside to carry his music to the top; not realizing how high his music would take him, how it would open many doors for other artists or how he would set many trends.
In the 60ʼs, Joe would sign with Texas based independent record companies, starting with his first record deal, Corona Records in San Antonio, next Valmon Records in Austin and later Zarape Records in Dallas. Joe ventured into his own independent company in 1968, “Buena Suerte Records” for his Spanish recordings and “Good Luck Records” for his English recordings. Also to follow would be Leona Records, a label also owned by Joe and a distribution deal with Freddy Records in Corpus Christi, Texas which would keep Joe independent through the 70ʼs and early 80ʼs.
In 1970, after playing and spending much of his time in San Francisco and the Bay Area, Joe discovered “Latinismo”, a strong Latin musical world which was not found in Texas at that time. It had a profound change in his music and his cultural values which prompted him to change the name of the band from Latinaires to La Familia. Joe wanted more knowledge on his heritage and roots. In 1983, Joe signed his first major deal with WEA International. After leaving WEA, Joe again would go independent and form “Redneck Records” where he recorded the Live Double Album “25th Silver Anniversary” in 1985. This album was placed with CBS which later became Sony Discos International.
Little Joe is a 5 time Grammy Award Winner:
Awarded for Best Mexican-American album in 1991, "Diez y Seis de Septiembre", 2005 for Best Tejano album, “Chicanisimo”, 2007 for Best Tejano album, “Before The Next Teardrop Falls”. He won his fourth Grammy in the Best Tejano album category for the album entitled “Recuerdos” in 2011. Awarded a Latin Grammy in 2011 for the album entitled “Recuerdos”. While with Sony Discos, he would be a 2 time Grammy nominee. Grammy-Nominated: 1988 - "Timeless”, 1993 - “Que Paso", 1999 - “Little Joe & La Familia 2000”, 2003 - “Celebration of Life, Volume I”, Latin Grammy-Nominated: 2004- “Celebration of Life, Volume II”, Latin Grammy-Nominated: 2005 - Chicanisimo In 1996, Joe would appear on the 1997 Grammy nominated album, “Frank Yanchovich & Friends, Songs of the Polka King, Vol. 1” in which he performed a duet with Frank Yanchovich on the song “Just Because/Si Porque”.
Also, in 1996, Joe signed a co-venture deal with his company “DeLeon Publishing” and “Peer Music Limited Publishing” in an effort to bring a major publishing outlet for Texas Songwriters extending publishing work to 33 countries. Aside from his music career, Joe has worked in the film industry starring in two feature films, “Proposition 187, A Deadly Law” and “Down For The Barrio”. Over fifty years and many albums later, Joe is touring the world, trailblazing, looking forward to new challenges, breaking down cultural and musical barriers and innovating his musical style. As always, Joe strives to bring people together to make a more peaceful and harmonious world