Norberto "Beto" Quintanilla Iracheta was born in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Young Beto left school after only a year of secondary education in order to work alongside his father. Some years later, in order to provide for his large family, Beto relocated to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, to work with his uncle on a cattle ranch. Though he had always loved to write songs, musical instruments and education were scarce. Via ranch life, Beto came to know a pair of musicians who played bajo sexto and accordion. Initially writing songs for his new friends, and then songs to be performed by numerous local groups, Quintanilla developed the skills and reputation of a serious musician. He did not sing or record his own material until meeting local record executive Ruben Polanco, who recommended that Quintanilla make the effort despite having had no experience or training in singing.
Beginning in 1976 the experiment paid off, with hit songs such as "Pancho la Sota," "La Panel Café," and "El Quemador." By 2000, Quintanilla had become a force in the regional Mexican music world. His release that year featured a pair of corridos that would become two of the most commonly covered songs in northern Mexico, "Raquenel Villanueva" and "El Calabozo." His 2004 release, Mi Historia Musical, a collection of his works, was Quintanilla's first appearance on the Billboard charts. A year later he made his second appearance on international charts with 25 Aniversario: En Concierto, celebrating a quarter of a century as a singer and composer. In 2007, Quintanilla released Tragedias Reales de la Vida, but he died of a heart attack on March 19th, 2007, just two days after its release. The album became his most popular, not only doing well on Latin music charts but making its way into Billboard's Top 200. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez