Sunny & the Sunglows, led by vocalist and chief songwriter Sunny Ozuna, were a cornerstone of San Antonio's now legendary tejano scene, melding doo wop, brown-eyed soul, Mexican conjunto, and Texas roots rock. They began developing their infectious Tex-Mex sound as a garage band in high-school gymnasiums, dingy roadhouses, and county fairs. They ended as Sunny & the Sunliners, having made history as the first tejano band to make the mainstream national charts inside the Top 20 and to play on national television and international stages, with crowds dancing to their catchy, classic sound that influenced virtually every tejano band that came after them.
Sunny & the Sunglows were formed by students at Burbank Vocational School in San Antonio, Texas in 1959. The bandmembers were lead singer Sunny Ozuna backed by Alfred Luna; Tony Tostado; Gilbert Fernandez; and Jesse, Oscar, and Ray Villanueva. Their sound was a mix of Tex-Mex, blues, country, and mariachi. The band started its own Sunglow imprint in 1962. Their single "Golly Gee" was leased to Columbia subsidiary OKeh Records. In 1963, Louisiana producer Huey Meaux produced the Sunglows' cover of Little Willie John's 1958 number five R&B hit "Talk to Me," written by Joe Seneca. Issued on the Tear Drop label, "Talk to Me" b/w "Every Week, Every Month, Every Year" hit number 11 pop and number 12 R&B on the Billboard charts in fall 1963. It sold over 250,000 copies and earned them a spot on Dick Clark's American Bandstand -- the first Tejano band to be featured on the popular TV show. After that appearance, personnel changes dictated that Ozuna change the band's name to Sunny & the Sunliners.
They kept issuing cover singles: Tony Bennett's "Rags to Riches" b/w "Not Even Judgment Day," the Five Keys' hit "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" b/w "No One Else Will Do," and Peanuts' "La Cacahuata" b/w "Happy Hippo." Though none of these recordings achieved the success of "Talk to Me," Ozuna and company were key figures in establishing the rich tejano tradition and music scene that added to the Lone Star State's cultural heritage. Their albums included the Tear Drop releases Talk to Me (1963) and All Night Worker (1964), The Original Peanuts (1965) on Sunglow, Smile Now Cry Later (1966), Live in Hollywood (1966), and This Is My Band (1977). Ozuna went on to have a successful career in the Spanish-language market and won a Grammy in 2000 for Best Tejano Album for his work with Augustin Ramírez, Carlos Guzmán, and Freddie Martínez, Jr. as the Legends. He was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in 2000. There have been numerous compilations issued under both band names, rightfully centered on Ozuna, including 2017's Mr. Brown Eyed Soul on Big Crown. ~ Ed Hogan~ Rovi