Descended from a long line of conjunto music innovators, Leonardo "Flaco" Jimenez has become one of the most important conjunto musicians, almost singlehandedly exporting the style beyond its original base in the tejano community. The son of another conjunto trailblazer, Santiago Jiménez, Sr., Flaco was born in 1939 in San Antonio, where he began his accordion studies at the age of seven. He eventually acquired the name "Flaco," ("Skinny"), a nickname originally attached to his father. Flaco earned his stripes as a conjunto accordionist by apprenticing with various San Antonio conjuntos, including Toby Torres', Joey López's and Los Caminantes. Flaco's career got a substantial boost from the Les Blank documentary Chulas Fronteras, which was the definitive tejano music documentary for over two decades. His impressive performance on film drew the attention of musicians and audiences outside the tejano fold, and he eventually became an ambassador of conjunto among American and even European audiences. During the '80s and '90s he recorded with American artists as varied as Ry Cooder, Dwight Yoakum and Buck Owens. In 1990 he, Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers and Freddie Fender formed the Texas Tornados, a group that further popularized the conjunto. Like Mingo Saldívar, Flaco Jiménez's strength as a conjunto innovator derives from his expansion of conjunto in the direction of country-western and rock. Songs such as "Hey, Baby, Qué Pasó?" and "Sorry Boy" are well-known examples of Flaco's brilliant synthesis of rock, country-western and conjunto.
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