Little Joe Y La Familia
Jose Maria DeLeon Hernandez "Little Joe" was born to Salvador "La Cotorra" Hernandez and Amelia DeLeon Hernandez in a three wall dirt floor car garage in Temple, Texas on a cold and stormy night on October 17, 1940. He was the seventh child of thirteen. In 1953, Joe's 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 make his first paying performance in Cameron, Texas for $5.00 at a high school Sock Hop. He was so excited. He realized that picking a guitar beat picking cotton and he still got paid for it.
In 1958, Joe would make his recording debut as a guitarist for Torrero Records in Corpus Christi, Texas. The song was an instrumental single entitled "Safari Part I & II" which was composed by all the members of the Latinaires.
In 1959, Jesse, Joe's younger brother who was the bassist, singer and songwriter would join the band, David Coronado was leaving. Joe took over the band renaming it "Little Joe & The Latinaires".
In 1964, Jesse was killed in an auto accident. Joe then made a vow at Jesse's graveside to carry his music to the top, not realizing how high his music would take him or how many doors he would open for other artists or how many trends he would set.
In the 60's Joe would sign with the Texas based independent record companies, starting with his first record deal, Corona Records in San Antonio. The next deal was with 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 70's and early 80's.
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 The Latinaires to La Familia. Joe wanted more knowledge of his heritage and roots.
In 1983, Joe signed his first major deal with WEA International. After leaving WEA, Joe would once again 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.
While with Sony Discos, Joe would be a two-time Grammy nominee. In 1992 Joe received his Grammy Award for "Diez Y Seis De Septiembre" for the Best Mexican American Performance Category in 1991. Part of his vow to Jesse would be fulfilled.
After leaving Sony the following year, going independent once again, Joe would receive his third Grammy nomination for his first recording "Que Paso" under his record label, Tejano Discos International.
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."
Currently, Joe has 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".
Forty years and over fifty albums later, Joe is touring the world, trailblazing, looking forward to new challenges, breaking down the 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.