© 2024 Marfa Public Radio
A 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Lobby Hours: Monday - Friday 10 AM to Noon & 1 PM to 4 PM
For general inquiries: (432) 729-4578
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Johnny Canales, Tejano music star-maker and legendary TV host, has died at age 77

Johnny Canales
Adrian Arredondo
Johnny Canales

Lee esta historia en español.

Johnny Canales, the Tejano music star-maker who was a household name for decades, has died at the age of 77.

His wife, Nora Canales, announced his passing Thursday morning on Facebook. “He was more than just a beloved husband, father, TV host, musician, and entertainer; he was a beacon of hope and joy for countless people,” she wrote.

Canales was musician and host of "The Johnny Canales Show," a program produced in Corpus Christi that introduced several Tejano stars, including Selena, Emilio Navaira, and La Sombra, to U.S. audiences.

He helped these three artists gain two Grammy awards and eight nominations over 17 years on live TV.

The show premiered in the 1980s and remained on the air until 2005. It was revived several years later. Many fans remember hearing, “You got it! Take it away!” before stars would perform.

South Texans, including Patricia Avila, who helps run the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame & Museum, had fond memories of Canales.

“Everybody in South Texas grew up with Johnny Canales on a Sunday. He was like our Dick Clark, 'American Bandstand,' she said. “So yeah, Johnny Canales' 'take it away,’ those were words that would always ring in our ears.”

Miami-based filmmaker Adrian Arredondo, who is working on a documentary about the TV host, said Canales embodied the American Dream.

“He was putting on his TV show artists who people in the United States had one no idea existed, who had no idea that the genres existed,” Arredondo said.

Arredondo spoke to Texas Public Radio in May when it was announced that Canales was gravely ill.

“I would describe Johnny Canales as one of the funniest people that I've ever met, and one of the most genuine human beings,” he said.

Canales grew up in Robstown along the coast, served in the Army, and was a radio DJ in the '70s before he turned to television.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been made available.

In her Facebook tribute, Nora Canales wrote, “Johnny's spirit will continue to live on through the countless lives he touched and the legacy he built … Remember him, not with sadness, but with the joy and passion he always brought into our lives.”

Jack Morgan contributed to this report.

Copyright 2024 Texas Public Radio

Samuel Rocha IV
Kristen Cabrera | The Texas Standard