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Freddy Fender, the "Bebop Kid" of the Texas-Mexico border who later turned his twangy tenor into the smash country ballad "Before the Next Teardrop Falls," died Saturday. He was 69.
Fender, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 2006, died at noon at his Corpus Christi home with his family at his bedside, said Ron Rogers, a family spokesman.
Over the years, he grappled with drug and alcohol abuse, was treated for diabetes and underwent a kidney transplant.
Fender hit it big in 1975 after some regional success, years of struggling — and a stint in prison — when "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" climbed to No. 1 on the pop and country charts.