Singer-songwriter David Rodriguez, who gained popularity in Austin during the 1980s and early 1990s, died on Monday in the Netherlands, where he lived for more than two decades. He was 63.
During his career, David Rodriguez collaborated with many artists such as Austin singer-songwriter Tish Hinojosa and Lyle Lovett (Lovett dedicated the last song to Rodriguez at his Tuesday night show with John Hiatt at the Paramount Theatre). While in Austin, he was often voted best Texas songwriter by the music magazine “Third Coast Music.”
Rodriguez grew up in Houston, and was part of a musical family that includes several performers, such as his daughter Carrie Rodriguez, known for her fiddle playing and popular Americana music, as well as his sister and multi-disciplinary artist, Leticia Rodriguez. During the 1940 and 1950s, his aunt Eva Garza was a trail-blazing Latina singer and actress.
“My brother was one of the most talented artists that I’ve ever known, and through him I learned not just about music, but how to approach performance,” Leticia Rodriguez said Tuesday.
She said she’ll always remember the Rodriguez family holiday shows that David organized in Austin. “He was a great influence for us musically,” she said. “And not just for me and my family, but for so many others.”
He began playing the guitar as a child, after he was diagnosed with polio, and went on to perform in several bands. Aside from music, David Rodriguez also earned a law degree and was politically active.
In a 2010 interview with Texas Monthly, Carrie Rodriguez said her father, who taught her how to play a little guitar, would often give her opportunities to take the stage, even though she felt scared. “My dad would sometimes put me on the spot and tell the audience, ‘Now, my daughter, she’s gonna sing for you.’”
“We will all miss his presence, his intelligence and wit and his beautiful timeless music,” Leticia Rodriguez said. “He was a visionary, and a bright light for many people.”
Plans for a memorial service have not been set yet, and we’ll share more updates when they become available.