Pedro Ramírez Velázquez—this year’s Mariachi Hall of Fame inductee—was born in 1939 in the village of Acámbaro, Guanajuato. In 1945, His family moved to Mexico City, where his father, a banda musician, soon found work as a trumpet player in the Plaza Garibaldi.
From a very early age, Pedro demonstrated a fascination for the trumpet. After his father finally put a lock on his instrument case to keep his son’s energetic horn bowing from waking him up each morning, young Pedro turned his attention to a clay toy trumpet exchange for fruits and vegetables.
Acknowledging the boy’s seriousness, Fermín Ramírez bought his son a real trumpet, which allowed Pedro to join his first mariachi. Soon Fermín started his own group in Plaza Garibaldi. Even though virtually no other mariachi of the late 1940s used two trumpets, Fermín had his son play second trumpet next to him, just to keep the boy by his side. Criticized by many while admired by others for its instrumentation, this group remained unknown. During this formative period, Pedro’s uncle taught him to read and write music; and he began studying formally at the Esculea Libre de Música. By his early teens, Pedro was already playing trumpet better than most adult musicians.
The few mariachi recordings in existence by that time that featured two trumpets had met with limited acceptance. In 1953, however, after Pepe Villa’s Mariachi México had a series of two-trumpet instrumental hits, the trumpet duo became the rage in mariachi music. When Miguel Martínez left Mariachi México in 1954, Pepe Villa invited 14-year old prodigy Pedro Ramírez to play second trumpet with the group, Since Ramírez had already been playing in duet with is father for years, he adapted to Villa’s mariachi immediately.
Pedro Ramírez remained with Mariachi México as a trumpet player for two decades, through both that group’s glory years and the Golden Age of mariachi music. By the late 1960s, he was actively writing musical arrangements, and his service in that area were so much in demand that 1974 he left Mariachi México to devote himself to arranging, directing, and producing. In this capacity he has collaborated with Vicente Fernández, Angélica María, Leo Dan, Roberto Carlos, Lorenzo de Monteclaro, Gerardo Reyes, Vikki Carr, Manoella Torres, Rosenda Bernal, Beatriz Adriana, Hermanos Záizar, Pedro Fernández, Alejandro Fernández, and other artists far too numerous to list.
The following awards stand out among the many that Pedro Ramírez has received: Grammy for Best Producer in Mexican-American Performance category, 1985 (Simplemente Mujer, Vikki Carr); Latin Grammy for Best Producer in Ranchero category, 2000(Mi Verdad, Alejandro Fernández); Latin Grammy for Best Producer in Rancher category, 2004 (En Vivo Juntos Por Última Vez, Alejandro Fernández and Vicente Fernández).
Pedro Ramírez is currently the exclusive musical director for both Vicente and Alejandro Fernández, although he occasionally finds time to contribute arrangements for releases by other artists, as he did on the latest Christian Castro CD.
This year, Mariachi Spectacular’s Hall of Fame is proud to induct Pedro Ramírez—one of the most important musicians in the history of mariachi music—into it prestigious ranks.