Salomé Gutiérrez, a renowned Mexican American composer, recording engineer, record producer, and entrepreneur, was born in D’Hanis, Texas, on August 24, 1930, to Florencio Gutiérrez and Cesaria Renteria. Shortly after his birth, the Gutiérrez family moved to Rodriguez, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, in 1934 and then to Nuevo Laredo, Tamualipas, Mexico, in 1938. Salomé developed a passion for music and at the age of fourteen started composing songs. In 1948 he played live on the XEDF radio station on a program called Alegre Despertar con El Trio Nocturnal every morning in Nuevo Laredo. In 1949 his first two songs, which were performed by Jesus Maya y Timoteo Cantú, were released on Armando Marroquín’s Ideal label as “Aqui Te Quedas” and “Soy Errante.” Accompanying musicians on the recordings included future conjunto legends Narciso Martínez and Santiago Almeida. At the age of twenty, Gutiérrez married sixteen-year-old Diamantina Treviño in Nuevo Laredo on July 24, 1950.
In 1951 Gutiérrez and his wife moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he began working construction; he eventually started his own company, S&R Construction Company, in the 1960s. By 1954, while he worked construction during the day, he worked as a recording engineer for the Norteño International Record Label at night. In 1964 Gutiérrez built a small recording studio in the back of his home and began recording local conjunto musicians under his own Del Bravo Records label (later named D.L.B. Records). He has been credited with helping launch the career of Flaco Jiménez. In 1966 Gutiérrez opened Del Bravo Record Shop with his wife on Old Highway 90 West, and within seven years they expanded to three shops across San Antonio’s West Side. He closed his construction business and converted its offices into a recording studio. In 1967 Gutiérrez created San Antonio Music Publishers that eventually became one of the largest independent catalogs of Latin music as well as Tejano music. He built a new recording studio at his home on West Commerce Street in 1979.
Gutiérrez has said that he composed most of his songs within thirty minutes to an hour and usually while driving. He appeared in the 1976 documentary Chulas Fronteras that showed an example of his composition process from creation to recording. The documentary shows his wife Diamantina taking dictation in the back seat of their vehicle while Gutiérrez sings in the driver’s seat.
Gutiérrez recorded and worked with many famous conjunto, Tejano, and norteño artists such as Lydia Mendoza, Valerio Longoria, Flaco Jiménez, Los Norteños de Terán, and Dueto Carta Blanca. Over the course of his lifetime, Gutiérrez composed more than 1,000 songs and recorded around 600 of them at his Del Bravo studio. Some of his most famous songs include, “El Gato Negro,” first recorded by Flaco Jiménez and made famous by Ruben Ramos, who earned the nickname “El Gato Negro”; as well as songs like “La Nueva Zenaida,” “Kilometro 1160,” and “Remordimiento.”
In 1983 he was inducted in to the Tejano Music Hall of Fame and received an award for songwriter of the year. In 2012 he was inducted in to the Conjunto Music Hall of Fame in San Antonio at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.
Salomé Gutiérrez, a Catholic, passed away from complications from Alzheimer’s disease at his home in San Antonio on October 27, 2016. He was survived by his wife Diamantina, eight children, his brother Raymundo Gutiérrez, and their extensive family, including many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. A funeral Mass was held at St. Dominic Catholic Church in San Antonio, and burial took place at San Jose Burial Park. As of 2019 his son Javier Gutiérrez continued to operate Del Bravo Record Shop.