Manny Guerra Interview

Introduction by Manuel Peña

Manny Guerra, well known recording entrepreneur in the tejano music arena, was born in 1930, in San Antonio, Texas.

Guerra became an accomplished drummer by the time he was in high school, where he and the popular singer Sunny Ozuna formed their first band. However, Guerra soon found work with the then surging orquesta leader/singer, Isidro López, and he left the San Antonio music scene to play with the popular López. Guerra also played with another popular tejano orquesta, that of Balde González, and also with a less popular but immensely talented violinist and his orquesta, Emilio Cáceres.

Eventually, Guerra returned to San Antonio, where he helped propel his brother Rudy and his old friend Ozuna to national fame. The group, now known as Sunny and the Sunglows, recorded a song in 1963 that became a top-forty hit, “Talk to Me.” Side-note: According to Guerra, it was he who produced “Talk to Me,” but Sunny bolted the Sunglows at that time, and the record was actually released by Tear Drop Records, a company owned by another record entrepreneur, the Louisianan Huey Meaux.

Around this time Guerra also launched his career as a record producer. In 1960, he produced a record for the Sunglows that featured a song, “Just a Moment,” that achieved local success. Around 1962, again, with Guerra’s guidance, the Sunglows began to produce records under the eponymous label, “Sunglow Records.” A bit later, Guerra founded his first company, GCP Records, which began to record a number of local area artists. Later in the sixties Guerra operated several differently named labels, including GCP (later called CCLP), Manny Music, and Amen Records. In the nineties, Guerra signed distribution contracts at different times with various major labels, including CBS, Warner Brothers, EMI Latin, and the international giant, Bertlesmann Music Group (BMG).

In his heyday, Guerra produced and recorded many of the top tejano acts. From the 1970s to the ‘90s, his artistic repertoire included such groups as Latin Breed, Sunny and the Sunglows, Joe Bravo, Agustín Ramírez and the most popular of all, Selena Quintanilla.

Guerra continued his career as a record producer well into the 2010s. In 1995, he was honored with a resolution from the Texas House of Representatives, in recognition of his contributions to the evolution of tejano music.