18 June 2008

Rafael Mendez

Rafael Méndez was born on March 26, 1906 in Jiquilpan, Mexico. His musical training began when he was five, when his father needed a trumpet player for the orchestra comprised of family members. The Méndez orchestra was a popular performing group and appeared regularly at festivals and community gatherings. Rafael loved the trumpet and actually practiced more that his father allowed.
In 1916, the Méndez orchestra performed for guerrilla leader Pancho Villa. He was so taken with the family orchestra, that he “drafted” the family into his army. Rafael quickly became Villa’s favorite player, and after several months demanded that Méndez stay with the rebels, even after the rest of his family were allowed to return home. Months later, Méndez was released from the rebel army, and he began to perform in several travelling circus bands, in addition to the family orchestra. He joined the Mexican army in 1921, where he played in the army orchestra.

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