Eligio Roque Escobar, composer and musician, was born to Eleuterio and Andrea Escobar, Sr. in Ben Bolt, Jim Wells County, Texas on December 1, 1926.
Escobar's family came to the Ben Bolt area from the small community of Escobares in Starr County. Escobares and Eligio's ancestors go back to the colonization period of Nuevo Santander, New Spain in the mid to late 1700s.
On September 24, 1944 Eligio married Jesusa Koehler. In February of 1945 he joined the United States Armed Forces and served until October 1946 which included the occupation of Japan after World War II where he achieved the rank of Sargent.
After the service Escobar came back to the Ben Bolt area to raise his family of two sons and two daughters working as a truck driver in the oil fields around Alice.
Destiny had another future for him though. In 1960 he was in a serious automobile accident. Eligio was bedridden for a year after the accident. Being alone he took up the guitar and started practicing his singing and composing songs.
Escobar soon joined the group Los Guadalupanos. Other groups or persons that he played and recorded with were: Conj unto Bernal, Los Fabulosos Cuatro, Chano Cadena, Ruben Naranjo, Rodolfo y Lab, Los Pavo Reales, Isidro "Lefty" Lopez, Don Pedro Ayala y Los Hermanos Ayala of Donna, Tx., Bernardo y sos Compadres, Pepe Maldonado, and Gerardo Reyes to name a few.
In 1964 Eligio helped guide his eight year old daughter Linda become a child recording artist and performer. She became a recognized name nationwide with her hit song, "Frijolitos Pintos". They went on a national tour with top international Mexican recording stars such as Lucha Villa, José Alfredo Jimenez, and Cantinfias. In California their promoter was Arnulfo "El Gordo" Debgado and in Chicago it was Joe Zuniga and the Zuniga Brothers.
Escobar recorded under various labels including: Ideal, Nopal, Bego, Cometa, Bernal, Laredo, Reloj, and DINA of Joey International.
Some of Eligio's biggest hits were "Cuando Dos Almas" with Nopal Records, "Rosario Nocturno" under Ideal Records, and "El Gambler" under the Laredo label of Tony de la Rosa.
"El Gambler" was a big hit amongst the horsemen of South Texas because it told the story of a quarter horse owned by Jimmy Reyna of San Diego with bloodlines coming from George B. Parr's horses.
I can recall as a young teenage boy in the late 1960s going to the racetrack of Santiago Barrera, Sr. close to Rios, TX. in Duval County and seeing Eligio singing songs by himself without microphones to the crowd under a shed. I recall being awestruck because he was known by then as a recording star and here he was in the middle of the brush singing songs instead of in some fancy dance hail. But in reality here was where he was most comfortable.
Elijio's most famous song undoubtedly was "El Veterano", a song he wrote for the Mexican-American veterans of World War II.
Andrea F. Escobar, Elijio's mother had the distinction of having her six sons, Ricardo, Ramiro, Eligio, Rogerio, Rafael, and Eleuterio being veterans of the armed services of the United States.
Escobar and his brothers were members of the American GI Forum in Corpus Christi and participated in many of their functions to benefit veterans.
Being raised in the South Texas brush country Elijio loved to hunt. Later in his life he was a wildlife manager on ranches in Mexico as well as South Texas.
I recall last year talking to his brother Rogerio and he told me that he and Elijio had spent several months on a big ranch in Mexico without seeing anyone else but themselves in preparing for the bunting season. They took their wildlife management seriously and it paid off with some trophy bucks for the hunters.
In the 1990s Elijio became ill with cancer and died on October 4, 1994. He was buried in Corpus Christi. Escobar left behind a legacy of over 250 songs that he recorded during his career. Hopefully in the year 2045, when World War II will have its 100th anniversary of it ending, they will still be playing "El Veterano" on the Tejano airwaves.