Saturday, April 28, 2012

Another Wally Gonzalez?

I was recently visiting the graves of family members that have passed away at the Palm Valley Memorial Gardens cemetery with my aunt. While we were there, my aunt pointing out something she thought would be of interest to me. She showed me a large beautiful tombstone of a man named Wally Gonzalez. This peculiar tombstone had a high quality engraving of a Hohner Corona II accordion. She remarked that this is where the famous Wally Gonzalez was buried. I tilted my head to the side and I kindly corrected her, "the" Wally Gonzalez (whose last name is also sometimes spelled Gonzales) is still alive, he recently celebrated his wedding anniversary. Also, this deceased Wally passed away in 2005, "the" Wally has been in the public eye throughout this entire time (including being featured in a lovely article by Crystal Olvera). I'm now wondering, who is this Wally Gonzalez? Is he a talented accordionist that has been overshadowed by the much more successful Wally? Is he someone whos story should be told and highlighted?

This reminds me of a two things I've been thinking about lately. The first being two people that share a name and participate in music genres that are perceived as being similar to one another. There are two Ramon Ayala's in the Rio Grande Valley, one in Hidalgo (although he is originally from Mexico) and one in Donna. It's lead to some confusion and now one of them is much more famous than the other. The first Ramon Ayala was from East Donna, the son of the legendary Pedro Ayala. He was also a bajo sexto player for the great conjunto act Los Hermanos Ayala. The other Ramon Ayala is the famous accordionist, but he is credited with the birth name of Rey Reyna III on Wikipedia, as well as being credited with another name, Ramon Cobarrubias (which was also the name of his father). So whether it's Rey or Ramon as his first name, the thing that cannot be denied is that his actual last name is not Ayala. The rumor, according to a good buddy of mine, is that Paulino Bernal insisted on the name change after he discovered the young accordionist from the Cobarrubias family. So it's a situation that has unfortunately made one Ramon Ayala (East Donna's great conjunto bajo sexto player) less known than the other Ramon Ayala (the great Norteño accordionist).

The second thing I thought of, more in a joking matter, is that maybe he could be an imposter Wally, which has happened in other entertainment avenues. There have been bizzare cases where some people conned their family, friends or reporters into believing that they were famous pro wrestlers. David Bixenspan wrote a great article about this phenomenon of pro wrestling imposters. Both pro wrestling and conjunto have a niche following, so could it be possible that "this" Wally was trying to pass himself of as "the" Wally? I thought about it but I can't see it being too likely. Wally is too well known to conjunto fans and has such a memorable appearance. So many people here in the Valley have heard his iconic "Que Me Entierren en Wal-Mart", his amusing satire on obsessive consumerism and dealing with lack of affection/attention during a long time marriage. In the song, he concludes with the the morbid and animated idea of wanting to be buried in Wal-Mart, so at least that way, he could be in his wife's presence.

So who is this other accordionist Wally Gonzalez that passed away in 2005? Hopefully, I'll find out who he is and we'll all find out together.

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