Ramiro Beltrán (Randy) Garibay, the "Chicano Bluesman," was born in San Antonio's Palm Heights neighborhood on December 3, 1939. He was the son of Isidro and Feliz Garibay. His parents were Mexican immigrants, and the family divided its time between home in the San Antonio barrio and a life as migrant workers traveling throughout the American Midwest.
Garibay began his musical career early when he joined vocal harmony groups as the lead singer. He first sang with the Velvets and then the Pharaohs while attending Burbank High School. The Pharoahs performed in Texas and Mexico and sang backup vocals for Doug Sahm on some of Sahm's earliest recordings, including "Crazy Daisy." After learning to play guitar on a Sears and Roebuck instrument given to him by his brother for his eighteenth birthday, Garibay left the vocals-only doo-wop group to play guitar for Sonny Ace and Charlie and the Jives.
He played in local San Antonio blues clubs, including the renowned Eastwood Country Club, before joining the Dell-Kings. The group started a road adventure that took them first to California and then to a record-breaking 280-week stint as the house band at the Casbar Lounge in the Las Vegas Sahara Hotel. At the Sahara the group backed headliners such as Jackie Wilson, Judy Garland, and Sammy Davis Jr.
The band members, thinking the group's name was dated, took the name Los Blues and went on to play a nightclub circuit that extended from Hawaii to Madison Square Garden in New York City. They also backed rhythm-and-blues acts such as Curtis Mayfield and the O'Jays. Calling Garibay the glue that held the Dell-Kings and Los Blues together, bandleader Frank Rodarte said, "In his later life, what he did for the whole Chicano nation with his blues was take things a step further to a place that wasn't violent, to a place that sang about depression but with humor."
In 1974 Garibay found himself back in San Antonio, where he pulled out all the stops to play his "puro pinche blues" style that showcased his unique ability to play Texas blues with a Chicano twist––combining blues, jazz, country, doo-wop, and classic Mexican boleros. He and his band Cats Don't Sleep were fixtures on the Texas music scene, playing a variety of styles from blues to jazz and performing everywhere from clubs to festivals. "He played with everybody. He was a significant part of San Antonio music. Everywhere he went, he was always from San Antonio," said Regency Jazz Band bassist and bandleader George Prado.
In his later years Garibay released three solo CDs—Barbacoa Blues, Chicano Blues Man, and Invisible Society. The title track of the first CD became Garibay's signature song. Garibay won the Pura Vida Hispanic Music Award in 1994 and 1995, as well as the 1996 West Side Rhythm and Blues Award, and was chosen to be the featured performer at the 1998 Chicano Music Awards. He was a touring artist with the Texas Commission on the Arts from 1999 until his death. In 2001 Chicano filmmaker Efrain Guiterrez used eight original Garibay songs for the soundtrack of his film A Lowrider Spring Break En San Quilmas (2000).
Randy Garibay died of cancer on May 23, 2002, and was buried in San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 in San Antonio. He was survived by his wife, Virginia Schramm Garibay; a son, Randy G. Garibay; and a daughter, Michelle Garibay-Carey. Garibay's musical legacy continued with his brother Ernie, who assumed leadership of Cats Don't Sleep. Michelle Garibay-Carey carried on as lead singer of her own band, Planet Soul, in San Antonio. On February 11, 2007, a tribute concert honoring Randy Garibay was held at the Guadalupe Theater in San Antonio. A similar event, featuring Ernie Garibay and Cats Don't Sleep and other special guests, took place at the Blanco Ballroom on December 6, 2009.