The “Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

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(“RENE” Ornelas, “RENE” Herrera)

White Whale 287

No. 14   January 4, 1969




At 14, Rene Victor Ornelas (b. Aug. 26, 1936, Laredo, TX) sang and played trumpet in his father’s band,

the Mike Ornelas Orchestra.   But a few years later, rock and pop music would gain entry to his soul.   In

high school, two Rene’s and two Juan’s–Rene Ornelas, Rene Her­rera (b. Nov. 1935, Laredo, TX), Juan

Orfila, and Juan Garza-Gongora–formed the Quarter Notes, a vocal quartet patterned after the Four

Aces and the Four Lads, who were hot at the time.


“We toured all over and got to make some records for Deluxe and Dot,” Rene Ornelas recalled in an

exclusive interview.   “It was hard back then being a Latin act.   The things we had to do!   We had hits in

the Spanish community, and the Top 40 stations took notice, but we couldn’t come in the front door–it

had to be through the back or the side door.”


After 10 years together, the Quarter Notes broke up in 1962.   The two Rene’s, however, stayed together

and recorded as a duo for another decade.   “We did a lot of records, made it to Dick Clark’s “Caravan of

Stars” and toured with the Beach Boys and the Grass Roots.   But we couldn’t get away from our roots:

we’d put a Latin song on one side and a pop-rock song on the other.   We couldn’t get away from it.


“Herrera quit in ’72.   For a while, I picked up a cou­ple of guys to sing harmony with.   I was the lead

singer, always.   I tried to keep on touring and recording, and I still used the ‘Rene & Rene’ name.   As

long as there were two of us and the sound was there, the people didn’t care.”


For a spell in the early ’70s, Rene retired from per­forming.   He wrote songs or did arrangements for

Herb Alpert, Vikki Carr, PETER NERO, Trini Lopez, Jose Feli­ciano, and Lawrence Welk.   He  earned a

teaching degree and tried to teach for a few years, but missed singing and was soon back in action.

Since the lat ’90s, Ornelas has been performing under the moniker of Rene Rene.   “That way they’ll only

expect one of us, right?”


If you look, they’re out there-more than 30 albums with either the “Rene & Rene” or “Rene Rene” 

name.   Rene Ornelas is most proud of his 1989 effort, El Gallito Enamorado, for JB Records.