Published Aug 23, 2010Tejano musician Esteban "Steve" Jordan, known as "the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion" has died from liver cancer. Jordan passed away on August 13 in San Antonio home on August 13, the Washington Post reports. He was 71.
Jordan was an innovative player who played a modified button accordion, often utilizing effects pedals. His often psychedelic sounds and almost pirate-like attire (complete with eyepatch) earned him his nickname. Steeped in Northern Mexico's conjunto style, his music occasionally crossed over to larger audiences, most notably during the '80s when he appeared in Talking Heads' True Stories film and album, and provided the soundtrack to Cheech Marin's Born in East L.A.
He was born in Elsa, TX near the Rio Grande, and had an unusual upbringing. Unable to work the fields alongside most of his family because of blindness in his right eye, he spent most of his time in migrant worker camps. By age seven, he had learned harmonica and guitar.
Jordan began recording professionally in the late '50s. During the '60s, following a stint with Latin jazz percussionist Willie Bobo, Jordan started to broaden his stylistic range to country and western, mambo, and most notably jazz. Jordan's polka-jazz revision of James Moody's "Midnight Sun" is both a radical deconstruction and one of his signature recordings (see the video below).
During the '70s he recorded for Tex Mex icon Freddie Fender's Fender label, as well as roots imprint Arhoolie. As he added more inventive touches like synthesizers to his still faithfully rootsy music, he gradually achieved international acclaim. In 1988 was honoured by the Hohner accordion company in Germany with a customized accordion most awesomely dubbed the Rockordeon.
Jordan's most recent recording was Carta Espiritual last year. He leaves behind six children.