Joe King Carrasco Biography
Known as the King of Tex-Mex rock and roll, Joe King Carrasco, creates a stylistic borderland of pop rock and Latin rhythms. His cross-cultural stew blends cumbias, vamp, salsa, surf, reggae, blues, and Latin-tinged polkas. It has been a long road, coming from Dumas,Texas, a dusty little west Texas town where in the 7th grade he started playing in garage bands. In his late teens, he was often lured to the beaches in Southern Mexico and was drawn to the Mexican music he was hearing around him. Back in Texas he joined up with future members of the Texas Tornados and formed a band known as Joe King Carrasco & El Molino and in 1978 released his 1st LP titled “Tex-Mex Rock & Roll”. Somehow this record made its way to England and was re-released by Big Beat Records.
In 1979, he formed Joe King Carrasco and the Crowns featuring Vox organ-driven Tex-Mex pop. The Crowns, released their first single, “Party Weekend”, and the label chase began and soon the band was playing chic New York venues and generating lines around the block. The band became one of the first American groups signed to England’s legendary Stiff Records. During this time Joe toured extensively throughout Europe, Central America, Bolivia and Columbia as well as across the USA and Canada, consistently delivering high energy performances where dancing was the numero uno priority.
Rounding out his assault on the International music scene with an in-depth interview in Rolling Stone Magazine and an appearance performing his music on Saturday Night Live. His song “Party Weekend” which is still known as the quintessential party anthem, was re-released by MTV as Party Christmas, making Joe King Carrasco a household name to MTV viewers across the country.
Even with all this going on Joe knew he was ready to take his music to a new level. It was on the Stiff Records, Sons of Stiff Tour, while traveling with a British-born Jamaican band called The Equators, that Joe picked up much of his reggae influence. After returning from a very successful year on the road, he put this experience to work and recorded the reggae flavored song “Don’t Let a Woman (Make a Fool Out of You)” on his album Synapse Gap for MCA Records where he had the King of pop, Michael Jackson, singing background harmonies.
Joe’s music is enhanced with an even greater Latin influence after living and studying in Nicaragua in the mid 1980’s. His songs dealt with the unjust political situation of that period in Central America, and the resulting albums were; “Bordertown”, “Bandido Rock” (off of which the song “Pachucco Hop” was recorded by the French group Mano Negra, headed up by Manu Chao, on their first platinum selling CD), and “Royal Loyal & Live” (with the only live recording of the hit song “Party Weekend”).
Several years ago, His Majesty took a few left turns at Nogales and wound up playing with his band at a bar called Pancho y Lefty’s in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. There, the Tex-Mex fell into a slow cool cumbia/reggae groove. This style seemed to be the musical answer to what Joe had been searching for from the Mayan pyramids to the shores of Lake Titicaca. This mystical combination of Latino and Caribbean, with a little bit of Sam The Sham thrown in for a spicy flavor, has evolved into a style Joe has termed “Tequila Reggae”. This influence can be heard on several of his recordings including “Dia de Los Muertos”, “Hot Sun”, and “Hay Te Guacho Cucaracho”.
In early 1996 Joe’s song “Tell Me” was recorded by The Texas Tornados, and sung by Freddy Fender, on their CD ‘4 Aces’. His music has been placed on numerous movie soundtracks including “Breathless” with Richard Gere, James Gardners’ “Rockford Files”, and he also played on the ‘Tin Cup’ sound track. Joe King Carrasco has been involved in acting for many years but in 2009 he stepped into the roles of writer and director with the release of his first film “Rancho No Tengo”. The soundtrack with the same name was released in 2008.
Because dogs are such an important part of his life, in 2011, Joe along with his three Jack Russell Terriers who go everywhere he goes, started a nonprofit group, Viva Perros (www.vivaperros.org) which helps homeless, abused and neglected dogs find a better life. Part of the profits from the “Concierto Para Los Perros” CD and T-shirts are donated to dog rescue groups via Viva Perros.
Through the years, fans have always been impressed by the energy Joe King Carrasco brings to the show with antics such as climbing up onto the speakers, taking leaps off the drum rise and closing the gap between him and the audience by taking his guitar through the crowd and climbing onto tables and bars without missing a beat. There were times when he amazed everyone by climbing above the audience and doing a full flip landing on the audience.
Joe King Carrasco was awarded in both 1979 and 1983, The Buddy Award for Best Latin Artist. In 2003, Joe King Carrasco was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame and in 2012 Joe was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame for a second time with his band The Crowns. The Academy of Texas Music awarded Joe King Carrasco a Lifetime Achievement Award in March of 2012, and he gave them a taste of his endless energy when he played as the closing act at the award ceremonies running through the audience only to end up back on stage taking a leap from the 4 foot drum rise while still playing his guitar. Down in Mexico, Joe was voted best lead guitar in Puente Perula, Jalisco. In March of 2013, Joe was honored with the Entertainer of the Year Award by the Academy of Texas Music along with a Historical Significance Award.
In June of 2011, Joe King Carrasco reunited with the original Crowns, and spent the summer playing across Texas. Teamed up with organist/accordionist Kris Cummings, bassist Brad Kizer, and drummer Mike Navarro, they went back to the studio and recorded a new CD, “Que Wow”, which they released during the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas in March of 2012.
Joe King Carrasco landed back in the studio late 2012 – this time with Ernie Durawa, Speedy Sparks and Augie Meyers, three members of his first band, El Molino and recorded a new CD, ‘Tlaquepaque’. They brought in many Texas MVP musicians to play on this LP, including Marcello Gauna, Aaron Lack, Jimmy Shortell, Jesse Dayton, John X Reed, Gil Herman, Chuggy Hernandez, Joe Morales, and Lisa York.
When not touring, Joe King Carrasco can be found at his musical home in Puerto Vallarta, Nacho Daddy, a Mex-Tex restaurant and club with walls tapered with memories, such as posters and photographs of Joes’ musical history and travels around the world. Holding court at Nacho Daddy gives Joe King a palace to rock his Tex-Mex and transport those who drink the magic flavored “margaritas” to a place where the “Party Weekend” goes on forever.
Joe King Carrasco, with over 24 albums to his name, now spends much of his spare time writing music and relentlessly searching for the perfect desolate beach to hang out with his dogs. He can often be found exploring the twisty back roads from Coahuila all the way to Chiapas, chasing down good inspiration for another Tex-Mex song.