The Gold Record That Wasn't

Gold Record Presented to Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers

By Baldomero Cuellar and Piper LeMoine

In the middle of their set on Saturday May 19th at the 2018 Tejano-Conjunto Festival in San Antonio, Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers were awarded with a gold record “to commemorate certified gold sales of more than 500,000 copies of the Latin World Records world wide release of Lo Mas Caliente,” released in 2017. KEDA’s Nelda Saenz introduced Julie Rodriguez of Latin World Records, who presented the award along with Frank Fierro of The band smiled, the crowd of thousands cheered. Photos were taken. Rodriguez posted her own photos all over Facebook, receiving congratulatory comments and likes.

The Festival, along with many of the fans, caught the whole presentation on video (beginning around the 10:38 mark). 

It should have been really big news for a conjunto to put up sales numbers like that. For perspective, here are the top selling albums in other genres released in 2017, according to Billboard, sourced from Nielsen Music:





Artist, Title




Taylor Swift, Reputation




Ed Sheeran, ÷ (Divide)




Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.




Bruno Mars, 24K Magic




Soundtrack, Moana




Chris Stapleton, From A Room: Volume 1




P!nk, Beautiful Trauma




Soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2




Metallica, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct




Soundtrack, Trolls



Source: Nielsen Music, for the tracking period Dec. 30, 2016 through Dec. 28, 2017.

If this were to be true, Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers would have put up sales numbers comparable to legendary hard rockers Metallica. This could have been HUGE for the band, the label, and conjunto as a whole.

With the goal of sending this inspiring David vs. Goliath-style story to national media, we reached out to Latin World Records for comment and background.

Unfortunately, we learned that this was all too good to be true.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the organization that has certified gold and platinum record sales since 1958 and even trademarked the term “gold record,” has no record of it on their website, which lists all of its certifications in a searchable database. Sometimes, record labels give their own awards to artists, but this was not from the label either.

In fact, Latin World Records, through representative Victoria Gonzalez, had this to say:

This person/individual who presented this award was not acting on any direction nor were we informed of or made aware of or have any knowledge of said presentation.

Again we apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

All related postings regarding this have been asked to be removed from any social media sites. The person who posted that is Not An Authorized Representative of Latin World Records and we Latin World Records are not aware of and have not received any formal notification of any such award.

We reached out to Rodriguez herself by Facebook and by phone. She claimed to be an employee of Latin World Records and assured us she could get us the sales numbers and that this was legitimate. We have not yet received a response, despite several follow-up attempts.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the photos of the presentation Rodriguez had shared around Facebook and those on the Latin World Records Artists Relations Facebook page had been removed.

Though Nelda Saenz and Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers did not respond to our requests for comments, they do not appear to have been involved. Frank Fierro had no knowledge of the details and referred us back to Latin World Records and Julie Rodriguez. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, through Communications Director Yadhira Lozano, confirmed that it only allowed the presentation on stage at the Tejano-Conjunto Festival, but had no further involvement.

But this isn’t the first time an unverifiable gold record has materialized in recent years at a public presentation in front of thousands of fans. In March 2017 at TTMA Fan Fair, another group was given an award very similar in appearance to the one given to Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers and also was to commemorate 500,000 copies sold.presented to Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers to commemorate gold sales of more than 500,000 copies of the Latin World Records World Wide Release of "Lo Mas Caliente"

Sources familiar with the situation, but who asked to remain anonymous and declined to name the band, told Rancho Alegre that, during that time, this same Julie Rodriguez claims to have been associated with that award and group as well.

The consequences of such a hoax, especially at such a high-profile event, could be far-reaching and potentially disastrous for two genres struggling to regain visibility and attention from mainstream media and suffering the losses of categories and standing at both the Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards.

This has come to the attention of many insiders and professionals in Tejano and Conjunto music. Oscar Martinez of Compadresmusic believes this a very serious violation of an unwritten code of ethics and those responisible should be called out for it, “I'd like for the individual who has the guts to pull something like this, comes clean. Obviously, the person doesn't realize that there are some of us who watch out for stuff like this and if we don't expose it, no one else will. We're much better than that.”

Rancho Alegre Radio’s own Executive Director, and co-author of this article, Baldomero Cuellar agrees. “This genre is struggling to maintain its professionalism and respect. It is heartbreaking that the professionals seem to have fled the industry, as far as media goes. Because no one is fact checking, no one is checking anything. The ones who are fact checking are the professionals in mainstream media and when they see such fallacies, it helps them make up their mind that they don’t even want to touch the genre. So there’s no hope, with these types of stunts, that Tejano will ever reach the place it once was. We have got to do better.”

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