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- "Willy Clauson came back to Tijuana" · July 11, 2018
Influences: Carl Sandburg, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger
Swedish-American singer Willy Clauson, aka El Charro Güero the Blond Cowboy, was born in Ashtabula, Ohio, and achieved his first taste of fame in Sweden, but eventually came to be associated with his adopted hometown of Tijuana.
Clauson made his initial mark after moving to Sweden in 1954, where he recorded in Stockholm with Lille Bror Söderlundh's orchestra. He appeared regularly on Swedish television and radio and toured Europe, India, Australia, and the Americas, including appearances at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the Royal Festival Hall in London.
His repertoire included children's songs, and Swedish, British, and American folk songs, including the original recording of "La Bamba" – later a hit for Ritchie Valens - which he claimed to have first heard when visiting Veracruz, Mexico. He also scored with "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" which he said he heard when visiting a church service in Leesville, Louisiana.
In the 1960s, he opened a Mexican restaurant in Stockholm. After relocating to Tijuana, he opened a new business near the Pasaje Rodriguez, a combination office, performance space, open mic stage, memorabilia display, and old TJ photo gallery, with everything for sale and Clauson usually wearing a sombrero, sheriff’s badge, and holding a cigar in his mouth.
It was in Tijuana that Clauson formed the Trío Calaveras, becoming known as El Charro Guero, the Blond Cowboy. Over the years, he recorded over 50 albums, on a variety of labels. He passed away in Tijuana in September 2017.