When Grammy-winning entertainer Emilio Navaira died unexpectedly at age 53 in 2016, he left behind a major void not only in the Tejano music world but in the lives of his sons Diego and Emilio IV — the rhythm section of the Warner Music Nashville band the Last Bandoleros. The brothers played in their father’s group and viewed him as both Dad and a musical hero.
The siblings, and their bandmates in the Last Banderolos Derek James and Jerry Fuentes, remember Emilio in the new song “What Would You Be Doing?” Mixing Tejano sounds, including an evocative Flamenco-style guitar line, with contemporary production, the track is a poignant remembrance of an important artist.
“I’ve written a few since he passed. This one just felt right to share with our fans and especially his,” says Diego, who sings lead on the song, with a harmony assist from brother Emilio IV.
“I feel him every time that we play,” says Emilio IV. “That guy played every night like he was playing for a stadium. Whether he felt good, or healthy or sick or whatever. That’s instilled in me for sure — every time you go onstage, give it your all. Because you don’t know if you’re going to play again.”
“I don’t want to sound selfish so I don’t really want to say this / but when you come to mind, it’s hard to go about my day,” go the lyrics.
Says Diego, “His passing changed the way I write music. I write now with much more passion than I ever did.”
After opening for Sting last year, the Last Bandoleros are back on the road and will head to Germany in November for a string of shows.