Best known for his contentious tenure in A.B. Quintanilla y los Kumbia Kings, Cruz Martínez is an accomplished keyboardist, songwriter, arranger, and producer whose credits include La Sombra, Los Kumbia Kings, Los Super Reyes, and his wife, regional Mexican superstar Alicia Villarreal. Born stateside of Mexican heritage, Martínez began playing piano at age 12 and joined the tejano band La Sombra at age 16, contributing to albums including Porque Te Quiero (1991), Mas Que Amor (1992), Iluciones (1993), Mas Que Todo (1995), Caliente Dulce Amor (1996), and Alborotados (1997). Martínez began working with Quintanilla shortly after the death of Selena, the latter's superstar sister; they worked together on "No Quiero Saber," a song from the posthumous album Siempre Selena (1996).
Quintanilla subsequently invited Martínez to join his new group, Los Kumbia Kings, beginning with the group's debut album, Amor, Familia y Respeto... (1999). Successive Kumbia Kings albums featuring Martínez include Shhh! (2001), All Mixed Up: Los Remixes (2002), 4 (2003), Presents Kumbia Kings (2003), La Historia (2003), Los Remixes 2.0 (2004), Fuego (2004), and Duetos (2005). As a member of Los Kumbia Kings, Martínez not only contributed keyboards but also songwriting, arrangements, production, engineering, and mixing; along with Quintanilla, he was a driving force behind the group's tremendous commercial success. But Martínez and Quintanilla unfortunately got into a longstanding disagreement that was aired out bitterly in public and became tabloid fodder, partly because it also involved Villarreal. To make a long story short, Martínez and Quintanilla went their separate ways, forming the respective splinter groups Los Súper Reyes and Kumbia All-Starz. As the leader of Los Súper Reyes, Martínez debuted in 2007 with El Regreso de Los Reyes, which proved popular, topping Billboard's Regional Mexican Albums chart and peaking at number three on the Top Latin Albums chart, driven to success partly on account of the hit single "Muévelo." ~ Jason Birchmeier