Sunny Ozuna is an icon of Tejano music. Not only has he been making music since his high school days in the 1950s, but he’s an artist whose discography goes on for days. The 74-year-old San Antonio native has a new album that is a retrospective of his oldies R&B hits of the ’60s and early ’70s. It’s called Mr. Brown Eyed Soul. Texas Public Radio’s Norma Martinez recently had a chance to talk with “El Cancionero” about the new album and a reflection on his life and career.
Tell us about your start. You grew up here in the Alamo City.
Yes. Actually, I went to Burbank High School on the south side of San Antonio. In my early years, I started liking music coming out of my high school years. There was a recreational park in my neighborhood. After we got out of school, instead of going straight home we would go to the park for a couple of hours before our moms & dads got out of work, and then we tried to beat them to the house so they think we went straight home. But all my friends were checking out the baseball and basketball and football, and I wouldn’t. I would go inside the building and I would wait for this one gentleman to come pound on the piano. And that’s kind of where I first got the thought that I was going to like music.
If you can imagine, he was about seven or eight years my senior, and I was about 12 or 13 years old. Not really knowing what I was doing, except I would stand there to hear this one song that he would eventually play. And if he wasn’t going to play it, I had to push him to make sure he did it, because I had to be home before mom & dad! At the right time, he would go into a song called “Talk to Me.” And that was it. Through the years, he became a very well known musician here, too. His name was Randy Garibay, and he went and did Las Vegas, and they did a lot of big gigs. They used to do the music behind Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, but they came back…