Tejano Legend Emilio Navaira Dead at 53

emilio navairo guitar

Grammy-award-winning Tejano music icon and acoustic guitar player Emilio Navaira died on Monday, May 16, at age 53. Navaira was widely credited with introducing Tejano music into the mainstream in the 1990s, along with Selena and La Mafia.

Police officers were dispatched Monday night after relatives reported that they found Navaira not breathing. He was pronounced dead at a hospital in New Braunfels, Texas. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.


At the young age of four, Navaira received his first acoustic guitar, learning to play by strumming along and singing at family gatherings. He began his career with David Lee Garza y Los Musicales in the late 1980s, and helped popularize Tejano — a mix of traditional Mexican music and European polka — to millions of listeners.

Navaira’s death came shortly before the loss of another Texas giant, singer-songwriter Guy Clark, who died May 17.

Anna Pulley
Anna Pulley