Born on June 17, 1937, in San Antonio, Manuel Guerrero grew up in a musical family and began to play the accordion when he was ten. He also learned guitar. He made his first recording in 1949 and by 1953 co-hosted a radio program with fellow accordionist Flaco Jiménez. He attended Lanier High School. Guerrero married Estela Alvarado in 1953, and they had six children. After their divorce he married Dora Guerra, and they had two children. Guerrero enlisted in the United States Army in 1957 and embarked on an international musical journey during his twenty years of military service. He was on several USO tours and was placed in Special Services in 1962. While on military leaves he would return to San Antonio, and there he recorded with Toby Torres for the Rio, Ideal, Corona, and Falcon labels.
From 1968 to 1970 he entertained troops in Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. During his military career he also became one of the first musicians to introduce conjunto to Europe and performed in Italy and Germany. In Germany in the later 1970s he led a group that included his wife Dora. Guerrero became known as "El Sargento Que Canta," the singing sergeant, and selections included a version of “Open Up Your Heart” by Buck Owens and a Spanish version of the popular “In Heaven There is No Beer.” He helped establish the Federation of Latin American Clubs in Germany. Guerrero recorded on Del Bravo Records in San Antonio, Capitol Records in Mexico, and on the Pan American label in Central America. He made numerous albums including Si Me Quieres, No Me DeJes Trabajar. The Singing Sergeant also had many hit singles including "Yo Tenia Dos Corazones," "El Troquero," "Mi Ultima Parranda," and “Abre Tu Corazon,” the Spanish-language version of “Open Up Your Heart.” In 1977 he retired from the army as a first sergeant, but Guerrero returned to Germany in 1980 as part of a larger tour of musicians. He was inducted into the Conjunto Hall of Fame in 1990. Manuel Guerrero died on January 22, 1991, in San Antonio and was buried with military honors in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.