Mola Lenghi, Arlington Reporter
Musicians remember Rudy Mata, the lead singer of The Cavaliers, who was shot and killed in Arlington.
Police say a local musician was shot and killed by a family member Tuesday night at an apartment complex in Arlington.
Rudy Mata, 56, went to his son-in-law's apartment in the 2500 block of Lynnwood Drive to mediate a family dispute over money, according to Arlington police.
Investigators say David Merrill shot Mata several times, he died at a nearby hospital. Merrill, 34, was arrested and charged with murder.
Those who knew Rudy Mata describe him as genuine, friendly and humble -- an ordinary man with an extraordinary gift.
"[Rudy] was easy going and we were just shocked that something tragic like this would happen to him," said Sid Holmes.
Holmes is the founder of The Cavaliers, best known for their song "Last Kiss" which was No. 2 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1964.
Mata joined the band in 2006 after Holmes' son filled in on drums one night while Mata was performing.
“[Rudy] first went up and started singing and I was like, ‘This guy is pretty good.’ He did a country song, then he did a rock song, and man he was pretty good. Then he did a slow ballet and I was like, ‘Man he's really good.’ He could do any kind of music,” said Gary Holmes.
Mid-song, Gary Holmes called his father Sid.
"I was there, playing with one hand, holding the phone up and letting him hear, 'Hey, we gotta get this guy,'" recalled Holmes.
The Cavaliers were semi-retired, until Sid Holmes heard Mata sing and thought to himself, "We should be playing again, with him."
Gary Holmes said Mata was an ordinary man with an extraordinary gift that came to him naturally.
"He wasn't really a musician and he didn't know what key he sang in. He was kind of like an amateur who was a natural pro," said Gary Holmes. "In 30 years I've never heard anyone who had his range – rock, country, anything – but he didn't have an ego."
Mata sang at churches, weddings, birthdays – anywhere he could spread his music. "He was a special guy that just poured love out to everyone," said Gary Holmes.
Most recently Mata performed with The Hi Roller Band, and according to the Star-Telegram he was named Grapevine Opera's Entertainer of the Year in 1997.
While his voice has been silenced, his friends say his songs will continue to play thanks to recordings like the one below on YouTube.