One of the longest-running Mexican regional music acts of all time, Los Tigres del Norte have played Disney Hall and Soledad Prison and just about every venue in between. A family operation, comprised of brothers Jorge, Hernan, Eduardo and Luis Hernandez, as well as their cousin Oscar Lara, the group is known for its plaintive corridos (narrative ballads) that tell the story of working-class Mexican life. Over the course of their nearly half-century-long career, they have sold more than 37 million albums, have 22 No. 1 albums and a dozen Grammy Awards (both regular and Latin).
Los Tigres del Norte (Tigers of the North) began as a small family band in Rosa Morada, in the agricultural state of Sinaloa, Mexico, when lead singer Jorge Hernandez was all of 14. It was during a fateful trip to the United States, to play a couple of gigs in Northern California, that the group was officially baptized. When asked by an immigration agent for their band’s name, the boys said they didn't have one. The agent invented one on the spot, calling them "the Little Tigers of the North."
In 1974, Los Tigres had their first big hit: an innovative ballad about love, betrayal and drug trafficking called "Contrabando y Traicion." Other hits followed, such as "La Banda del Carro Rojo" (a bouncy polka about a drug deal gone wrong) and "La Puerta Negra" (about lovers kept apart). Ever since then, the band has remained a norteno music staple, with lyrics that touch on love, immigration, narcotrafficking, politics and working-class life — especially the life of Mexican workers in the U.S. The nasal twang of Jorge's vocals and the flutter of his accordion are part of California's sonic landscape. (The band has lived in San Jose since the late 1960s.)
In 2000, the band founded a namesake foundation, with the express mission of fostering and preserving Mexican music and folk traditions. As part of its charity work, the foundation awarded a $500,000 grant to UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center to digitize more than 32,000 vernacular Spanish-language recordings from the first half of the 20th century.
Los Tigres del Norte are the first Mexican regional music act to get a star on the Walk of Fame.