Some people just have a star quality about them, as if they were born ready for the big time. Hector Ward is one of those people. The leader of the Austin-based Latin Funk and Country Soul band explains “My grandparents nicknamed me Hollywood Hector when I was just three years old.”
Hector Ward was born to Cuban refugee parents who fled Castro’s communist regime. Spanish was the language, and Cuban was the music, that filled the family home.
Although he only spoke Spanish on his first day of kindergarten, growing up in Damon with his brothers and sisters, Hector quickly became bilingual and had an all-American, Texas-style childhood riding dirt bikes at the family ranch and playing sports (football and baseball) in school.
Around age 13 he picked up the guitar and started to play. Like most young lads with an axe his early influences included Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix. He spent hours pouring over Catfish Blues and Over the Hills and Far Away. His love for these classics endures and a Zepplin cover often makes the HWBT set list today.
In addition to his success on both the grid iron and diamond in the highly competitive world of Texas high school sports, Hector continued to perform and generally live up to his “Hollywood” legend throughout high school. He performed in plays and musicals including Annie Get your Gun. When it was time to go to college on a football scholarship he followed the time tested method of getting-as-far-away-from-home-as-possible and settled on Midwestern State in Witchita Falls. He played tight end, defensive end and linebacker in the fall and bounced around the baseball field with as a hitter who could deliver and play the field as well. After a year in far flung Witchita Falls he was back home, sorting out his life and examining prospects for the future.
On one average-as-any night back home a tired Hector was urged by some friends to head in to Houston to party. Hector wasn’t really up for it, but went anyway. On the way home he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his truck. He flew out the back window and broke his neck. The initial prognosis was that he would be paralyzed from the neck down.
Fortunately, for music lovers everywhere, his arms were in good working order and he passed long, pain-filled hours playing his guitar in the hospital. When he left Midwestern State he knew he wanted to move to Austin and start a band, and the accident did nothing but strengthen his resolve to do so.