Freddy Fender poses backstage
Photo by Graham Bezant/Toronto Star via Getty Images

'Before the Next Teardrop Falls': The Story Behind Freddy Fender's Crossover Smash


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Freddy Fender (born Baldemar Garza Huerta) struck gold with his 1975 country-pop hit "Before the Next Teardrop Falls." But the song had been around for years before he even got hold of it. 

Vivian Keith and Ben Peters wrote the song in 1967, working together at  Fingerlake Music Publishing Company in Nashville. Vivian came up with the title and the song was pretty much written in one night, with a couple of tweaks made to the title.

The Story Behind 'Before the Next Teardrop Falls'

Numerous artists recorded the song before Fender, but only found modest success. The original version was recorded by Duane Dee, but Dee was drafted during the song's release and it only peaked at No. 44 on the country charts. Linda Martell gave it her own spin in 1970, reaching No. 33 on the Billboard chart and Jerry Lee Lewis even recorded a version on his 1969 album, Another Place Another Time.

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Producer Huey P. Meaux had already worked with Fender and was dubbed "The Crazy Cajun." He approached the singer in 1974 to record "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" but Fender initially didn't want to record the song. But Fender decided to recorded the song anyway. He performed the first half in English and the second half in Spanish. He thought he was pretty much done with the song after they wrapped. He couldn't have been more wrong.

The song took off and was an immediate success, skyrocketing to No. 1 on the Hot Country Singles chart in 1975. And it didn't stop there. The song also hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the top five song of the entire year. Fender went on to secure four additional No. 1 hits on the country charts. 

You could say that "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" really jumpstarted Fender's career. Meaux produced the song with a Tex-Mex approach, which helped the song resonate with audiences and even led Fender to release more bilingual singles including "Secret Love." He also released a version of the song completely in Spanish.

 

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There were only six songs in 1975 that topped both the Country and Hot 100 Billboard charts, so this was an incredibly impressive feat. It definitely contributed to Fender winning the Single of the Year award from the Country Music Association. The song, which was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for over one million sales, was a life changing for Fender. It also helped pave the way for future bilingual hits on the radio.

It was Fender's dying wish that he become the first Mexican American inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He passed away from a battle with cancer in 2006. Hopefully the singer's wish comes true soon.

'Before the Next Teardrop Falls' Lyrics:

If he brings you happiness

Then I wish you all the best

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It's your happiness that matters most of all

But if he ever breaks your heart

If the teardrops ever start

I'll be there before the next teardrop falls

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Si te quiere de verdad

Y te da felicidad

Te deseo lo más bueno pa' los dos

Pero si te hace llorar

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A mé me puedes hablar

Y estaré contigo cuando triste estás

I'll be there anytime

You need me by your side

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To drive away every teardrop that you cried

Editor's Note: This story first ran on June 11, 2019.

READ MORE: Freddy Fender Made History and Inspired a Generation. Why Isn't He in the Country Music Hall of Fame?

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