Community Corridos

Norteño legends Los Tigres del Norte have been entertaining fans for more than 50 years with their “corridos,” or narrative ballads on social issues, history, folklore and culture.

The band’s own story began when its members were just kids in Rosa Morado, in the municipality of Mocorito, Sinaloa. At 14 years old, Jorge Hernández brought together his younger brothers Raúl and Hernán, and his cousin Óscar, to find a way to share his passion for music, while also helping to provide for their family.

“My love for music came from my family who would sing and play music to keep our traditions alive,” Jorge Hernández said. “In order to help our family we decided that forming a band could be a way to contribute to the family while doing something that we love.”

They began playing small gigs in restaurants in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, then decided to move to Mexicali, Baja California, as they furthered their musical career. They were given an opportunity to play in San José, California, which marked the band’s first trip to the U.S. During this trip, the band found its name.

As they were crossing the border, an immigration officer asked them what the band name was. They did not have one yet, so the officer suggested “tigrillos” (little tigers) for the young men. On second thought, he suggested Los Tigres del Norte (The Tigers of the North), as the youngsters soon would be grown. The band adopted the name and carried on to the states.

After their initial performance at a prison, they decided to stick around and started playing in several of the local bars and restaurants in San José. During one of these performances, a British record distributer named Art Walker discovered the group and offered to help them record an album.

Los Tigres’ first album was called “Juana La Traicionera.” They recorded three more albums with Walker’s help, but had yet to receive much acclaim. Little did they know, their breakthrough was on the horizon.

The group’s next album, “Contrabando y Traición,” sparked immediate attention with its title song about a drug smuggling couple and their story of betrayal.

“‘Contrabando y Traición,’ or how many people know it as, ‘Camelia,’ was a song that put us on the map,” Hernández said. “For us it was a song that portrayed real life and a love tale at the same time. After this song grew in popularity we were able to build on it and create a fan base that has grown with us throughout the years. Our fans have been our foundation and we will continue to tell their story through our songs. We feel like we have been a part of their families and households since this song allowed us in.”

Los Tigres recorded eight albums for Walker’s company, Fama Records, before ending their contract and moving on to record for Fonovisa. With this new company, the band gained international popularity and toured Latin America, Europe, and Asia, making them the first global norteño band.

They have gained fans of every demographic through their strong storytelling and relatable content.

“Everyone, regardless of age, can relate to our songs through their own life experiences,” Hernández said. “For example, our new song ‘La Reunion’ is a song that is based on coming together as a family, community and beyond.”

The band’s popularity has been solidified with numerous awards and honors, including seven Grammy wins and six Latin Grammy victories, as well as receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014.

They were also honored in 2018, when the group was chosen to perform for inmates at Folsom Prison, walking in the footsteps of Johnny Cash, who had performed there 50 years earlier. The 2018 live concert was captured in a Netflix Original Documentary: “Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison.”

To Hernández, the biggest honor of his career remains the humble opportunity to speak up for his community.

“For us, the reward has been to be given the opportunity to be considered the voice of our community and represent our traditions and culture through song,” he said.

One of the group’s latest ventures was an album dedicated to a Mexican cultural icon, Vicente Fernández, titled “Y Su Palabra Es La Ley … Homenaje a Vicente Fernández” (And His Word is the Law… Tribute to Vicente Fernández).

“This was a tribute album to our dear friend Vicente Fernandez,” Hernández said. “The song ‘Un Consentido de Dios’ was a song written about him and his legacy and we were given the opportunity to be the interpreters of that song. That lead us to coming up with the idea to create a tribute album of some of his all-time hits with our signature sound mixed with Mariachi.”

The band continues to work on new music all the time, and is on tour, stopping at the Rio Vista Outdoor Amphitheater at Harrah’s Laughlin Saturday, Sept. 18 (8 p.m.).

The current band lineup includes Jorge Hernández (vocals, accordion), Hernan Hernández (bass, vocals), Eduardo Hernández (accordion, bajo sexto, saxophone, vocals), Luis Hernández (bajo sexto, vocals) and Oscar Lara (drummer).

“We are thankful for our fans who continue to allow us to be a staple in their lives,” Hernández said.