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Conjunto accordion great Jordan dead at 71

San Antonio -- Conjunto accordion music innovator Esteban "Steve" Jordan has died of complications of liver cancer in Texas, friends said. He was 71.

The San Antonio Express-News reported Sunday Jordan died late Friday at his home in the city.

The newspaper said Jordan was credited with using electronic effects as he melded jazz, pop, Chicano rock and blues with polka.

"He was like a rock star," fellow accordionist Santiago Jimenez Jr. told the Express-News.

Jordan, blinded in his right eye at birth, grew up one of 15 children in a family of farm workers in Elsa. He picked cotton as a child but by age 7 had started to teach himself the accordion and the jazz guitar.

Among his songs were "Soy de Tejas," "El Gancho" and "La Mula."

"He was the best, and he knew it. And everybody else knew it," Juan Tejeda, founder of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Tejano Conjunto Festival, said. "He had a lot of soul and was the epitome of what Chicano music is and what Chicano people are."

University of Houston sociologist Avelardo Valdez called Jordan "a cultural warrior."

"When everyone else made compromises, he was one of the few that maintained his music and his defiant lifestyle," Valdez said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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