Alejandro Escovedo (born January 10, 1951, in San Antonio, Texas) is a Mexican American singer-songwriter.
The son of Mexican immigrants to Texas, Escovedo is from a family that includes several professional musicians, including brothers (and percussionists) Coke Escovedo and Pete Escovedo, and Sheila E (Pete's daughter and Alejandro's niece). Another brother, Mario, fronted the hard rock band The Dragons, and yet another brother, Javier, was in the punk rock band The Zeros.
Escovedo began performing in the first-wave punk rock group The Nuns, with Jennifer Miro, and Jeff Olener, in San Francisco, California. After Escovedo's departure, The Nuns recorded an album on Posh Boy Records, but had little commercial success.
In the 1980s Escovedo moved to Austin, Texas, where he adopted a roots rock/alternative country style in the bands Rank and File (with Chip and Tony Kinman) and the True Believers (with his brother Javier, Jon Dee Graham and bass player Denny DeGorio). However, it was with the release of his first solo albums, Gravity in 1992 and Thirteen Years in 1994, that he found his true voice. Although he has yet to crossover to a large mainstream audience, Escovedo has a huge underground following, and many popular artists cite him as a strong influence.
In 1997, Alejandro collaborated with Whiskeytown and Ryan Adams during the recording sessions for their album Strangers Almanac. He sings on "Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight", "Dancing with the Women at the Bar", and "Not Home Anymore". As a salute to Alejandro, a cover of a True Believers song written by Alejandro is covered by Whiskeytown on the re-released Strangers Almanac, Deluxe Edition.
In 1998 No Depression magazine named him Artist of the Decade. Alejandro was also involved in a side project that represents his hard rocking tastes. Buick MacKane released an album in 1997 The Pawn Shop Years, hearkening back to his musical roots from the 1970s.
In 1999, Escovedo contributed to the tribute album to Moby Grape's co-founder, Skip Spence, who was critically ill with cancer. The album was intended to raise funds to address Spence's medical bills. The album was titled, More Oar: A Tribute to the Skip Spence Album. The title refers to the title of Spence's only solo album, Oar (Columbia, 1969). On More Oar, Escovedo contributes his version of Spence's "Diana". Critic Rob Brunner commented, "The best contributions come from artists who realize that Spence's work is as much about atmosphere as words and chords. ...Alejandro Escovedo offers an appropriately bleary 'Diana', Spence's darkest song." (Birdman, 1999), was produced by Bill Bentley, a Warner Bros. Records executive and Austin-referenced music producer.
In 2003, after having lived with hepatitis-C for many years, Escovedo fell critically ill. In his long road to recovery, he faced increasing medical bills. Without medical insurance, Escovedo could not pay his substantial medical bills. Friends and admirers around the country organized benefit shows to help the songwriter. This effort grew into the album Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo, a two-disc set whose proceeds benefit the Alejandro Escovedo Medical and Living Expense Fund. Contributing musicians included Steve Earle, Jon Dee Graham, Lucinda Williams, John Cale, Jennifer Warnes, Ian Hunter, The Jayhawks, and Son Volt, as well as family members Pete Escovedo (with niece Sheila E.), Javier Escovedo, and The Dragons (featuring youngest brother, Mario Escovedo).
In 2005, Escovedo was declared to be free of the disease.
Also in 2005, Escovedo's song "Castanets" appeared on the iPod playlist of George W. Bush. Upon learning of "Castanets" being there, Escovedo announced that he would not play the song again as long it was on Bush's i-pod or until he was out of office. After two "Castanets"-free years, as Bush was winding down his term, Escovedo lfted the moratorium and began performing the song again.
Boxing Mirror came out on May 2, 2006 and included many of the songs he had promoted with The Alejandro Escovedo String Quintet, including Jon Dee Graham. Escovedo went on a short tour with the Quintet, which included a date at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall in early December 2006.
In April 2008, Escovedo changed managers and began being managed by Jon Landau and Barbara Carr.
Escovedo released, Real Animal, produced by Tony Visconti, on June 24, 2008. All of the songs were co-written with Chuck Prophet.
In 2009, Escovedo was invited to contribute to a tribute album to the late Doug Sahm. Escovedo contributed his version of "Too Little Too Late" to Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm (Vanguard Records).
In June 2010, Escovedo released Street Songs of Love, also produced by Visconti but released on a new label, featuring songs that were originally presented during "Sessions On South Congress" at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas with his band, The Sensitive Boys. After starting out writing about nothing in particular, the record “ended up being an album about love, the pursuit of a feeling that is forever elusive, mysterious, and addictive,” said Escovedo. A New York Times "critic's choice" review of Street Songs of Love claimed that, "In another, less fragmented pop era, this would be the album of thoughtful but radio-ready love songs to finally get Mr. Escovedo the big national audience he deserves." Nationally syndicated radio shows such as Little Steven Van Zandt's Underground Garage gave prominent attention to Escovedo and his album, continuing to play the song "Silver Cloud" in particular well into the following year.
- Gravity (1992)
- Thirteen Years (1994)
- The End/Losing Your Touch (1994)
- With These Hands (1996)
- More Miles Than Money: Live 1994-1996 (1998)
- Bourbonitis Blues (1999)
- A Man Under the Influence (2001)
- By the Hand of the Father (2002)
- Room of Songs (2005)
- The Boxing Mirror (2006)
- Real Animal (2008)
- Live Animal (2009)
- Street Songs of Love (2010)
- Big Station (2012)
- More Oar: A Tribute to the Skip Spence Album (Birdman, 1999)
- Hear Music Volume 7: Waking (2002, Hear Music) – "Wave"
- 107.1 KGSR Radio Austin – Broadcasts Vol.10 (2002) – "Ballad of the Sun & the Moon"
- WYEP Live and Direct: Volume 4 – On Air Performances (2002) – "Rosalie"
- Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm (Vanguard, 2009)
- Metro: The Official Bootleg Series, Volume 1 2010
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Image from Discogs