Beto Quintanilla

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Beto Quintanilla
Born Norberto Quintanilla Iracheta
(1948-05-23)23 May 1948
General Terán, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Died 18 March 2007(2007-03-18) (aged 58)
Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico
Cause of death Heart attack
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • composer

Norberto "Beto" Quintanilla Iracheta (23 May 1948 – 18 March 2007) was a Mexican singer, songwriter and musician. Beto was known as "El Mero León Del Corrido" [the word "mero" is idiomatic or slang and means more than its cognate "mere"; an English translation could be "The Boss Lion Of The Corrido"].

Life and career[edit]

Beto Quintanilla was originally from General Terán, a small town in Nuevo León, Mexico. The date of his birth is unknown, but was some time in the late 1940s. As a child, Quintanilla composed poems or odes to his mother, his teacher, his school, and his country. He left school after only a year of secondary education in order to work in fields alongside his father and his five brothers. His extended family also included three male relatives and two women. The farm was not enough to support the entire family and when he was 13 years old, young Beto relocated to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, where he had found a job milking cows. He did this for a year, and then worked with an aunt in a clothing store for several years.

Quintanilla never had any formal musical training. Although he had always written poetry and songs, musical instruments and musical training were scarce, and he knew few musicians. However, at some time during his life on the ranch, he did meet a pair of musicians who played bajo sexto and accordion. He began writing songs for them, and then songs for other groups. Eventually he came to the attention of Ruben Polanco, the artistic director of a record company, and Polanco encouraged him to sing his songs himself. Apparently Quintanilla initially objected that he did not know how to sing and felt out of place when he sang. Polanco told him not to waste time [with excuses], that he (Polanco) wanted to sign artists like Quintanilla, and that he (Quintanilla) had a unique style and presence.[1]

Quintanilla died in Reynosa, Mexico, on 18 March 2007. The cause of death was a heart attack, said to be related to a drug overdose.[2]


Quintanilla recorded mostly narcocorridos, many of which he composed. He recorded more than 20 albums in his lifetime, not including collections of hits. After his death, many of his albums were re-released, and his songs appeared on various collections released by different record companies. Some of these collections have misleading titles: for instance, the album "La Ejecución De Juan" [English: "The Execution of Juan"], released in 2009, apparently does not contain the song "La Ejecución De Juan",[3] which was on the original album, a concept album of the same title. (The album cover shown is another album entirely, making the matter more confusing.) Other posthumous releases or the publicity for them imply that the material on them is new, or even that Quintanilla is still alive. Quintanilla wrote and performed a substantial number of songs, well over 100, but due to all the album releases, some of his songs appear on two, three or four albums, making his discography much larger than the body of work behind it.

In 2006, Beto recorded an album with his look-alike and sound-alike brother, Jesus "Chuy" Quintanilla, called "Frente Al Frente" [English: "Face to Face"]. Chuy Quintanilla carried on the family narcocorrido tradition until 2013, when he was murdered near Mission, Texas. Beto's son, Beto Quintanilla Jr., recorded an album of his father's songs, "Homenaje a Mi Padre" [English: "Respects To My Father"] in 2007, soon after his father died.

Beto Quintanilla's famous songs include "El Deportado", "Le Compre La Muerte a Mi Hijo", "Raquenel Villanueva", "El Gordo Paz", "El Sapo", "Los Pilares de la Carcel", "El Calabozo", "La Carga Ladeada", "Un Ratoncito Orejon", and "El Corrido de Los Zetas." These songs remain concert and studio standards for bands that play corridos.


The discography assumes that if there are two albums of the same name, the later album is a re-release of the first, although as noted above, in at least one case this seems to be untrue.

La Carrera Del Chucho (Unknown date)
La Ejecución De Juan (Unknown date)
Los Primeros 15 Rugidos Del León (Unknown date)
Más Corridos (Unknown date)
Corridos Famosos y El Gordo Paz (2001) (re-released 2008)

Ratoncito (1997)
El Ondeao (1998) (re-released 2008)
Al Filo De La Navaja (2001)
Antonio Fonseca (2001)
En Vivo Desde Linares, Nuevo León (2001)
La Carga Del Diablo (2001)
Pistoleros De Fama (2001)
15 Éxitos de Beto Quintanilla (2002)
Pa' La Raza (2002)
Libertad de Expresión (2002) (re-released 2008)
Corridos A La Mexicana (2003)
15 Éxitos (2004)
16 Éxitos (2004)
Con Banda Suspiro (2004)
En Vivo (2004)
Gallo Fino (2004)
Mi Historia Musical: 20 Exitos (2004)
Pobreza Infeliz (2004)
Pa' Cantar Hay Que Ser Gallo (2004) (re-released 2008)
100% Corridos (with Lalo Mora) (2005)
25 Aniversario: En Concierto (2005)
25 Aniversario en Vivo y Directo (DVD) (2005)
Las Clásicas (2005) (Re-released 2013, 2015)
Los Ángeles Van al Cielo (2004)
Mi Vida En Canciones—15 Exitos (with DVD) (2005)
Rafael Lucero (2005)
Todo Quintanilla (2005)
Abandone a Mi Amigo (2005) (re-released 2008)
Dos En Uno ["Corridos Famosos y El Gordo Paz" combined with "Libertad de Expresión"] (2006)
Frente Al Frente (with Chuy Quintanilla) (2006)
20 Exitos (2006) (re-released 2008)
El Beso De Tierra (2007)
Las Claves de Beto Quintanilla (2007)
Mi Hijo No Es Un Cobarde (2007)
Tragedias Reales de la Vida (2007)
Las Viejas Bravas De ... (2007) (re-released 2008)
Clasicas 15 Éxitos (2008)
El Mero León Del Corrido (2000)
El Pescado Enjabonado (2008)
Le Compré La Muerte A Mi Hijo (2003)
La Santisima Muerte (2008)
Los Primeros Rugidos Del León (2008)
Los Remixes Del Mero León Del Corrido (2008)
Mi Historia Musical—20 Corridos (2008)
Patrulla de Blanco y Negro (2008)
Raquenel Villanueva (2000)
Ratoncito Orejon (2008)
Trans-Am 98 (2008)
Con la Banda Yurirense (2008) (re-released 2009)
La Ejecución De Juan (2009) (apparently not the same as the original album)
Los Remixes Del Mero Leon Del Corrido, Vol. 2 (2011)
Mujeres Buenas Malas Y Valientes (2011)
El Mero León Del Corrido 2 (2012)
Para Toda La Leonada (2012)
Las Clásicas (2013)
Mis Primero Éxitos (2013)
Puros Corridos, Vol. 1 (2014)