Last night's (Feb. 27) Grammy Awards netted legendary musician Freddy Fender the best Latin pop album honor for his Back Porch/Virgin release "La Musica De Baldemar Huerta." The trophy is the first so

Last night's (Feb. 27) Grammy Awards netted legendary musician Freddy Fender the best Latin pop album honor for his Back Porch/Virgin release "La Musica De Baldemar Huerta." The trophy is the first solo Grammy Fender has won in his more than four decade-long career. The artist has two other Grammys to his credit, both best Mexican-American performance awards for group efforts with Texas Tornados (1990) and Los Super Seven (1998).

For Fender, who has spent the last month recovering from kidney transplant surgery at his home in Corpus Christi, Texas, the Grammy has been a long time coming. "I really feel great. I've been going to the Grammys off and on since the '70s and been wanting to win one since then," Fender tells Billboard.com. "I was nominated in '75, but Captain & Tennille won [record of the year] for 'Love Will Keep Us Together.' And in '76, I was up again, but Stevie Wonder took it. I won the awards with the Tornados and Super Seven, but this is my first individual win, and that really makes me feel real nice and warm."

Shortly after his release from the hospital -- where he received a kidney donated by his daughter Marla Huerta Garcia -- the artist proclaimed he'd be ready to attend the Grammys, but he was ultimately unable to be in Los Angeles last night. "I over estimated my recovery," he admits. "I have to be patient. [The doctors] give you three months [to recover], and they know more about that they're doing than I do. I can be impulsive."

Nonetheless, the storied musician says his recovery is on track. "It's going great, but it's gradual." One of the drawbacks is the amount of medicine he needs to take on a daily basis. "I have take a bunch of pills. One is anti-rejection, one is anti-fungus...," he explains. "One of them makes you tremble. That one just frustrates me because I can't even sign my name right. I'm hoping to be able to reduce that soon. I'm hoping for the best."

Fender says he still wears a hospital mask to limit his possibility of exposure viruses. "I can't even pet my dog," he laments. "But I have to take care of myself, or my daughter will kill me! I can't endanger this gift that she has given me."

After he fully recovers, Fender plans to work on new material. But the 64-year-old says he's not sure if it will be in the same vein as the boleros that make up the bulk of "La Musica," on which he pays homage to the music he heard growing up in the Rio Grande valley. "Knowing myself, I'll probably pursue that, because [it's something] that works for me. Or knowing myself, I'm going to go another way," he says with a laugh. "I'm just an adventurer when it comes to music."

"But it will be a style I'm comfortable with," he adds quickly. "I'm not dumb enough to take on some thing I'm not confident in. I have to be at home with what I do. I have to be comfortable; to be sure the ground is solid."