1969 René & René – Lo Mucho Que Te Quiero
René Ornelas was born in Laredo, Texas, and played trumpet and sang in his father’s band, the Mike Ornelas Orchestra. He teamed up with René Herrera and two other musicians to form a group called The Quarter Notes. When that group fell apart, the pair formed René y René.
In 1964 they recorded Angelito (little angel). The single was bi-lingual, and with lyrics that started in Spanish, it was no doubt a tough sell in some parts of the US. The single still managed to reach #43 on the Hot 100. That led to a performance of the song on American Bandstand and an interview with Dick Clark. The record was an international hit and sold over a million copies.
In 1968 they signed with White Whale Records (the same label the Turtles were on) and released Lo Mucho Que Te Quiero. Again, the song was sung in both Spanish and English. This time they found it easier to get airplay in the US, and the single peaked at #14 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart in early 1969. The single also sold over a million copies.
While the pair never had another record chart in the US, I found at least one claim that they recorded the first version of a song that later became a hit. Doug Sahm was the leader of the Sir Douglas Quintet, a Tex-Mex group based in San Antonio. He wrote the song Mendocino. Rene y Rene recorded the song for a small record company in San Antonio and put it on the b-side of a release where it went unnoticed.
The Sir Douglas Quintet broke up after being busted in Texas when they brought an insignificant amount of marijuana back from England. Doug moved to San Francisco. He eventually reformed the group, and they then recorded their own version of Mendocino. Their single only reached #27 on the Hot 100 in early 1969 but was more successful in Europe, where it sold over three million copies. The bust and subsequent break-up explain Doug’s comments on the single about the group being back.
René Ornelas eventually became a solo act and toured as René René.
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