Ramon Ayala

image for Ramon Ayala
Exhibition Label
Born Monterrey, Mexico
Known as the “King of the Accordion,” Ramón Ayala has exemplified for more than five decades the best of norteño music, a genre rooted in rural Mexico and popular throughout the Southwest. Having started playing the accordion at age five, Ayala recorded his first album at age eighteen with the group Los Relámpagos del Norte—the Lightning Bolts of the North—and was soon regarded as one of the most inventive musicians in the norteño tradition. Now based in Hidalgo, Texas, he has recorded more than a hundred albums and is the recipient of four Grammy Awards. His songs are often concerned with the hopes and dreams of immigrants along the U.S.–Mexico border, although his music is also about conveying sentiments that speak to the heart of humanity. In this portrait—commissioned to accompany a profile of the legendary musician for Texas Monthly—photographer Jeff Wilson captures Ayala holding his signature rhinestone-studded accordion.
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Bill and Sally Wittliff
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
2004 (printed 2011)
Object number
Jeff Wilson, born Aug 1975
Ramon Ayala, born 8 Dec 1945
Nature & Environment\Plant\Tree
Music\Musical instrument\Accordion
Ramon Ayala: Male
Ramon Ayala: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician
Inkjet print
Image: 45.7 x 37.1 cm (18 x 14 5/8")
Sheet: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16")
Mat: 71.1 x 55.9 cm (28 x 22")
National Portrait Gallery