ARMENDAREZ, WALLY (1933–1996). Guadalupe L. “Wally” Armendarez, orquesta musician, was born in Premont, Texas, on September 12, 1933. His father Tomas and his uncle Polito were both excellent musicians. Tomas played accordion, bajo sexto, guitar, and violin. Wally remembered listening to Beto Villa's orquesta when he was a young boy of seven years. When he was in junior high school, his parents bought him a clarinet, and soon he was playing in the high school band and was second clarinet although he could not yet read music. When he was thirteen or fourteen years old he received an alto saxophone and practiced listening to Beto Villa's recordings. He started his own orquesta while still in high school and later played with a group of musicians who had been members of Villa's orquesta. Armando Marroquín of Ideal Records asked fifteen-year-old Armendarez to record some songs in his studio in Alice, Texas, with “El Huracán del Valle” Narciso Martínez’s band. Wally’s skill during the sessions prompted orchestra leader Beto Villa to ask the teenager to also record with his group. As a result he recorded two polkas titled “La Rielera” and “El Quelite.”
After serving two years in the United States Army in the mid-1950s, Almendarez received an invitation from Villa to join his orquesta. Almendarez played with Villa until declining health forced Villa to give up touring. Almendarez then joined the Paulino Bernal Orquesta in 1959 and helped record the big hit "Mi Unico Camino." He worked with Armando Marroquín to back up some of the major artists recording for Ideal, including Chelo Silva, Narciso Martínez, Las Hermanas Mendoza, Rosita Fernández, and others. His 1959 recording for Ideal, the polka "Las Cuatro Milpas," turned out to be a good seller. In 1960 Almendarez formed his own group which played together for three years. Later in the 1960s Almendarez played with Nori Cantú and Esteban Jordan in California and also with Shorty and the Corvettes and Manuel Guerra.
In 1970 he married Iris Villa, the daughter of Beto Villa, and they had a daughter and son. Almendarez continued to perform occasionally until retiring about 1987. He worked as a rancher and later as a hotel clerk. In his spare time he taught his musical traditions to his children, and he still played the saxophone and performed at an occasional reunion or benefit dance in the Falfurrias area. Wally Almendarez died on September 15, 1996, and he was buried in Premont Cemetery in Premont. He was inducted into the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame in 2003.
Corpus Christi Caller-Times, September 17, 1996.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Clayton T. Shorkey, "ARMENDAREZ, WALLY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/far46), accessed July 23, 2014. Uploaded on May 8, 2014. Modified on July 7, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.