Ramiro Cortés Interview

Ramiro Cortés talks to Chris about his years as Lydia Mendoza’s impresario. Just after quitting his job playing baseball for the Coca Cola company, Ramiro Cortés was looking for work, and proposed that he take Lydia Mendoza out on tour. Just after she agreed, her family was in a tragic car accident, and Lydia lost her sister. After pulling back from the spotlight for 5 years to grieve, Ramiro organized her reentry onto the public stage. As big of a star as she was, it proved to be a challenge at first, because according to Ramiro, many people had assumed that it was Lydia who had passed in the car accident, as opposed to her sister. Cortés relates several amusing anecdotes about being on tour with Lydia, including an incident in Sonora, Arizona where an old woman hit Ramiro over the head in the lobby of the theater where Lydia was performing, because she was convinced that the real Lydia Mendoza had died in the car accident and that he was scamming the audience for money using a faux Lydia.  She beat him repeatedly with the handle of her umbrella until blood from his head poured onto his suit and he was rushed by an ambulance to the hospital where he was treated with three stitches. Ramiro explains in the interview that things like this happened all the time. Listen to him speak candidly in these interviews about his time on the road with Lydia, which he describes as a years long “beautiful episode” of his life.

  • Ramiro Cortés Interview Pt 1 00:00
  • Ramiro Cortés Interview Pt 2 00:00
  • Ramiro Cortés Interview Pt 3 00:00
Interviewee: Ramiro Cortés
Interviewer: Chris Strachwitz
Date: 7/23/1984
Language: English

This is an interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission.

Ramiro Cortés Interview Transcripts:

Statement on the passing of Chris Strachwitz

Arhoolie Records Founder
July 1, 1931 – May 5, 2023

We celebrate the life of our founder, friend, and great record man Chris Strachwitz. He died peacefully at home in Marin County, CA, surrounded in his last days by dear friends and family. Over his 91 years, Chris captured the music that represents the best “down home music” the world has to offer.

He was at the forefront of nearly all the roots revivals over the last 60 years including blues, zydeco, Cajun, Norteño and Tejano music. His drive to document traditional music helped introduce the nation to our diverse musical heritage. He had the foresight to save music that might have otherwise been lost to obscurity and played a role in strengthening cultural traditions through his records, films, and most recently the Arhoolie Foundation. He cared for those around him, fought for royalties and recognition for Arhoolie artists, and provided counsel to countless musicians, writers, film makers, and academics.

Plans for a public celebration of his life will be announced in the coming weeks. Today we’re thinking of all that Chris brought to our lives and the lives of the musicians and fans with whom he shared his passion.