An accordion maestro and godfather of contemporary norteno, Ramon Ayala has made music that has underscored Mexican and Mexican American life for nearly five decades. Ayala first picked up an accordion when he was just five years old, under the guidance of his father, a small-time musician in Monterrey, Mexico. By the time Ayala was a teenager, he was a seasoned and remarkably mature player. At age 15 he moved to Reynosa, where he met a young Cornelio Reyna and formed Carta Blanca, which evolved into Los Relampagos del Norte. Los Relampagos took what was essentially cantina music, elevating the lyrical content and musicianship and finding an enthusiastic audience in migrant workers north of the border. They had their first hit with "Ya No Llores" in 1963. In time, the group's appeal slid south, and Los Relampagos enjoyed nearly a decade in the spotlight before Reyna decided to pursue a solo career as a ranchero singer in 1971. Ayala formed Los Bravos del Norte out of Los Relampagos' ashes, and the group became wildly successful, garnering multiple Grammy nominations over the years and influencing generations of norteno musicians to come.