GUERRERO, LONNIE (1917–1994). Longino Guerrero, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, was born on June 21, 1917, in Manor, Texas. Longino Guerrero, better known as Lonnie, made his mark in the music community through his outstanding efforts in folk music. Because of his dedication to the traditions of Mexican culture, Guerrero helped preserve a musical heritage for future generations.
At a young age, Guerrero moved with his family to nearby Austin, just west of Manor. During this time, he became a self-taught musician, learning to read and write music on his own. Guerrero learned to play various instruments but focused on the acoustic guitar.
Guerrero began his career in music in the 1930s, starting out as a troubadour traveling throughout Texas. He traveled among Texas communities and provided information and entertainment through corridos. Corridos, or folk ballads, are typically epic narratives that tell stories of historical figures or events. They have been important as a means for communicating ideas, information, and culture among working-class Hispanics along the Texas-Mexico border and have become an important part of música tejana. Guerrero became known as the “Composer of Corridos” because of his dedication to this folk music tradition. In 1965, for example, he composed the corrido, “La Tragedia del Presidente Kennedy,” a ballad about the 1963 assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy.
During World War II, Guerrero served in the United States Army Air Forces. After the war, he returned to Austin to work for the city. Guerrero was employed as a janitor for most of his life and worked for the Austin Independent School District, the Internal Revenue Service, and other public sector institutions. He later went to work for the East Austin Chicano Economic Development Corporation. During this time and throughout the rest of his life, Guerrero continued to compose and perform music. Many well-known artists, including Little Joe y La Familia, Isidro López, and Manuel Donley (his own nephew), have recorded Guerrero’s songs. Louie, Guerrero’s son, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a musician in his own right. On January 10, 1994, at the age of seventy-six, Lonnie Guerrero passed away in Austin. He was survived by his wife of fifty-six years, Guadalupe V. Guerrero, three sons, one daughter, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Guerrero, a Catholic, was buried in Assumption Catholic Cemetery.
Guerrero was inducted into the Conjunto Music Hall of Fame in 1983. In 2009 he was inducted into the Austin Music Memorial. A program of the City of Austin Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office, the Austin Music Memorial honored Guerrero because of the important contributions he made to the development of music and the Austin community. A personal engraved disc was placed on the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for Performing Arts “City Terrace” in Guerrero’s honor, overlooking Lady Bird Lake. His son Louie, who died in 2006, was inducted in 2010, making Lonnie and Louie Guerrero the first father and son inductees into the Austin Music Memorial.
Austin American–Statesman, January 12, 1994. Austin Music Memorial (http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/music/memorial.htm), accessed January 12, 2011. Gary Hartman, The History of Texas Music, (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008). Juan Tejeda and Avelardo Valdez. eds., ¡Puro Conjunto! An Album in Words and Pictures (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Jennifer Cobb, "GUERRERO, LONNIE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgu33), accessed September 19, 2014. Uploaded on August 7, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.