Saturday, 08 January 2011 19:50

Oscar Lawson, a pioneering artist who led a San Antonio group into national acclaim passed away Saturday in San Antonio. He died as a result of a stroke he suffered Wednesday at his home.

He was 73.  (Comments below) Tejano Gold to air special - details below.

The San Antonio group was the world famous Royal Jesters and their superhits included some of the most memorable tunes from a vivacious soundtrack

of love and life – “My Angel Of Love," "Please Say You Want Me," "Muchachita" and of course, "We Go Together."

Funeral detail coming

From all accounts, Lawson was an influential musician, an inspiring artist and a fine family man.

Lawson and the Royal Jesters accomplished what millions of artists aspire to, and precious few rarely accomplish – true success in thrilling fans with chart hits in a sparkling career that inspired - and inspires - many more fans and artists.

Lawson’s musical footprint looms large in Tex-Mex history. (See Royal Jester bio data below)

“What I’ll remember the most about him was the fact that he and Henry Hernandez were co-founders of one of the first Chicano groups from San Antonio that made it big on the national scene,” said Ramon Hernandez, historian and owner of Hispanic Entertainment Archives.

David Marez, another towering figure in the history of Central Texas music, was still reeling from the news late Saturday afternoon.

“They just called about an hour ago and I am truly shocked… it just happened so fast,” he said. “

Marez was one of those gifted local singers that Lawson and Henry Hernandez had the keen vision to recruit and who would help them forge the Jesters' longstanding reputation as a top shelf group.

Well-known radio DJ Lee Woods remembered in a 2006 interview, that the group was top rank in their day: “When the Royal Jesters were in their prime, they played in every major venue in town. They played hundreds of public and private concerts, weddings, quincianeras. So much so, generations of San Antonio grew up with them.

 “The Royal Jesters were the monster group of their day, almost a decade before

other similar groups like Tierra or Malo would score with their pop hits.”

Like Tejano legend Sunny Ozuna, the Jesters scored their first hits in English pop such as “My Angel of Love,” “We Go Together” and “That Girl." By the 1970s the Jesters got on the charts with Chicano (now Tejano) hit tunes such as “Soy Chicano,” and “Chicanita.”

Marez struck a somber tone when asked to reflect on Lawson:

“He and Henry were the ones that got me into band, everything I am, I am because of them. It’s a big loss, a great friend that really helped me keep in music, Oscar was the one that handled the business and Henry handled the band - I learned from both ends. What Lawson meant to us, is invaluable.”


Founded 1956, San Antonio, TX
    The thread that led to the creation of the Royal Jesters began when Henry Hernandez dropped out of the local band the Five Angels and teamed up with fellow Lanier High School students Oscar Lawson and Mike Pedraza. The new group was called the Young Ones and they were heavily influenced by both the Trio romantico music and the doo-wop rhythms then popular on the air waves.
    The Young Ones played a mix of rock 'n' roll and Mexican traditional music at family gatherings and private parties. To reflect both their Mexican and Motown influences, they changed their name in 1958 to the Royal Jesters and later added a horn section. They followed with a series of singles that met with regional success including "My Angel Of Love," "Your Dreamy Eyes" and later on Cobra Records "Ask Me To Move A Mountain," "Let's Kiss And Make Up" and "I Want To Be Loved." They followed with additional singles on JOX records: "Please Say You Want Me," "Wishing Ring" and "Muchachita."
    But success until that point had been moderate and thus the Jesters then decided to try their hand at hit-making in 1964 by creating their own label Jester Records and releasing "Wisdom Of A Fool," "We Go Together," "Lady Sunshine," "Manning Ave" and "That Girl."
    In 1972, the group switched from Top 40 to Chicano music and released its first Tejano album "Yo Soy Chicano," which produced the hit "Soy Chicano." The album made Billboard's Hot Latin LPs Special Survey Charts in 1976. The follow-up albums, "Chicanita," "Soy Feliz" and "Latin Rhapsody" also landed on Billboard.
    During the '70s, the band was a revolving door for a succession of singers: Joe Jama, David Marez, Dimas Garza, George Rivas, Joe Posada and others. At the peak of their popularity, the Royal Jesters split up in February 1977. In 1995, they signed with BMG/US Latin and released the tribute album, which featured re-mix of the hit "Soy Chicano" as well as other classics by Joe Bravo ("Que Casualidad"), Jimmy Edward ("Tu Prieto"), Sunny Ozuna ("Reina de Mi Amor") and Rene y Rene ("Angelito").
    1996 Tribute (RCA)

From: "The Billboard Guide to Tejano and regional Mexican music," by Ramiro Burr, Billboard Books.

If you have a story, photos or memories, please share with us.

From Rudy Trevino/ Tejano Gold:
"Tejano Gold did an interview Oscar a few years back. We will be producing a tribute show including some excerpts of the interview. That show will air in 2 weeks on our Tejanogold radio and web affiliants and xm/sirius."

"I can say is no better love song than "Love Me'"
Bill Angelini

"Tal vez lo que mas  recuerdo de Oscar, aparte de su talento musical, es que siempre un caballero
con todos y su caracteristica de amabilidad. En una ocasión, estabamos platicando en un restaurante y uno de los clientes no traía lo suficiente para pagar y sin que la persona se diera cuenta, Oscar se anticipó y la pagó, y que en realidad era muy típico de él. 
"Por otra parte lo vimos en varias ocasiones darse tiempo para saludar al público despues de una actuación de Los Royal Jesters, cosa que tambien caracterizaba a sus compañeros y no dudamos de que por eso eran muy populares. Mis mas sinceras condolencias para la Familia Lawson."
Andrés Ricardo Morín



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