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Their beginnings are not clear, though most stories have them becoming accomplished guitar players after finding a guitar near Ceará, Brazil in spite of the improbability of the story. Playing in Rio de Janeiro, they found success as Natalicio and Antenor Lima - dressing in ceremonial Indian costumes. Using classical guitars and playing transcriptions of classical violin and piano works, they were soon playing all over South America.
Probably as early as 1943, RCA's Latin American arm signed them to a recording contract. In the early 1950s, they took a break from performing and went back to study the guitar. After returning to the stage later that same decade, they released an album in the United States on an RCA-owned label named Vox.
Throughout this period, they had a steady stream of releases on RCA in Mexico and one of these, a Mexican popular tune named "María Elena" (Lorenzo Barcelata; named after the wife of a Mexican president and recorded in 1958), became a steady seller, a success throughout Latin America and was finally released on a single in the U.S. in 1963. It spent 14 weeks on the Hot 100 in the fall of 1963, four of which were in the top 10 in November 1963, and had similar success in the United Kingdom. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
Los Indios Tabajaras continued touring throughout the Americas and Europe, and in 1964 they had another two releases, "Always in My Heart" and "Marta." Although "Always in My Heart" made the Billboard Hot 100, neither of these were nearly as successful as "Maria Elena."
Their fluent guitar playing caught the ear of American guitarist Chet Atkins and, along with pianist Floyd Cramer, they recorded an instrumental album in Nashville, Tennessee. They also recorded and released material with singer Don Gibson, including the song "Oh Lonesome Me".
RCA released albums by Los Indios Tabajaras into the 1980s. Though Antenor retired from performing, Natalicio Lima continued to perform into the 1990s with his wife, Michiko. He died in November 2009.