Vicente ‘Chente’ Fernández, Mexican singer, songwriter and composer who was considered the King of Ranchera Music and Mariachi, died on January 7 at age 81. He is widely revered for his music that fused traditional folkloric Mexican musical styles with pop flairs. His songs were successful outside Mexico as well in countries such as El Salvador where he wrote anthems promoting peace during a civil war.,
Vicente Fernández, known as “Chente” died on the morning of April 2, 2021. His death was confirmed by his family and a representative from Televisa, the network that aired his popular variety show.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Vicente Fernández, the king of traditional ranchera music in Mexico, died on Sunday at the age of 81, according to his family.
Mr. Fernández started his career as a street performer in Guadalajara, the city of western Jalisco and the cradle of mariachi music. He had a slew of nicknames, which reflected his celebrity. He was dubbed “Mexico’s Idol,” “el Rey,” or “the King,” and simply “Chente,” short for Vicente.
He released more than 100 albums and sold more than 70 million copies during the course of his professional career, which spanned more than 55 years. He appeared in almost two dozen films. Numerous Grammys and Latin Grammys have been bestowed to him.
Mr. Fernández was a ruggedly gorgeous man with permanently jet-black eyebrows and mustache, as well as silver hair and sideburns. From Mexico City’s National Auditorium to New York City’s Madison Square Garden, he left an indelible mark on the stage.
Mr. Fernández generally donned the classic charro uniform of a Mexican rodeo cowboy in his concert appearances, which consisted of a silk tie, vest jacket, tight slacks with silver clasps, and a broad brimmed hat, all embroidered with gold and silver thread.
His hit song “Volver, Volver”—”Return, Return”—the lament of a heartbroken lover who pines for the arms of his lost love—set sales records in 1976, bringing him widespread international recognition. The song was well-received across the Spanish-speaking world, and hundreds of cover versions were produced in the United States and throughout Latin America.
In 1976, he received widespread worldwide exposure, as well as a popular song. Vicente Fernández performing during a Madrid event in 1978.
Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images/Getty Images
“El Rey,” which some have said should be Mexico’s national anthem, was another hallmark tune. Tequilas, mariachis, plus a version of Mr. Fernández’s songs are a must-have for every night at a Mexican cantina.
“He was the last of Mexico’s great charro singers,” stated Enrique Krauze, a Mexican historian. “He embodied the Mexico of mariachis, love ballads, haciendas, and the fatherland of the Creole.” He was a charming and well-liked character.”
Mexican lawmakers and cultural leaders paid their respects. “I express my condolences to Vicente Fernández’s family, friends, and millions of lovers,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador posted on Twitter. “Vicente Fernández was the emblem of ranchera music of our time, recognized and famous in Mexico and worldwide.”
Mr. Fernández’s remains will lay in state at the Bellas Artes theater in Mexico City, according to the president of the Mexican Senate, although a private ceremony will be held in Guadalajara on Monday.
“The music world has lost a legend…,” President Joe Biden tweeted late Sunday on Twitter. “Vicente will live on in the hearts of future generations.”
Mr. Fernández died on the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s patron saint. Mr. Fernández is seen delivering a rose to the Virgin in heaven, who gladly responds, “You brought me a serenade,” according to a cartoon meme that quickly went viral on social media.
“We’re orphans,” Francisco Calderón, a well-known Mexican cartoonist, declared.
Hundreds of Mexicans gathered outside the gates of his estate on the outskirts of Guadalajara to bid him farewell. Mr. Fernández had been at a nearby hospital since August, when his health began to worsen following a fall at home. He died of multiple organ failure, according to doctors.
In a statement, the Latin Recording Academy stated, “With sorrowful hearts, we say adieu to regional Mexican great and cultural icon Vicente ‘Chente’ Fernández.” “Through his remarkable performances and his exceptional voice, which included outstanding operatic power and range, the singer, producer, and actor conveyed the musical traditions of his home nation to audiences throughout the globe.”
Outside the hospital where Vicente Fernández died, fans sung his songs and carried his portrait and the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images/ulises Ruiz
Mr. Fernández was born in Huentitán el Alto, Jalisco, on February 17, 1940, to rancher Ramón Fernández and Paula Gómez.
“I remember going to watch Pedro Infante movies when I was six or seven years old and telling my mother, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to be like them,’” he recalled, alluding to the iconic Mexican cinema actor and singer.
At the age of eight, he acquired his first guitar and rapidly learned to play it. He earned first place in an amateur competition in Guadalajara at the age of 14, giving him the courage to perform at local restaurants and at weddings. He eventually relocated to Mexico City, where he started wooing record labels, initially without success.
When the most prominent Mexican ranchera singer of the time, Javier Sols, died at the age of 35 in 1966, he got his first recording break. Mr. Fernández started receiving calls from record companies that had previously rejected him.
Vicente Fernández directed over 25 films. In 1998, his followers saw him get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Getty Images/Hector MATA/Agence France-Presse
Mr. Fernández began his film career in 1971 and has since produced over 25 films, the most of which are action pictures such as “El Tahur,” or “The Gambler,” “El Macho,” “Kill or Die,” and “Jalisco Never Loses.” In 1998, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He had an official farewell tour in 2016, although he remained active, including a live performance at the Latin Grammy Awards in 2019 with his son and grandson.
Mr. Fernández was so dedicated to music and singing that he continued to record until the end of his life, releasing “In My 80s” in December 2020, which received a Latin Grammy for best ranchero/mariachi album this year.
Mr. Fernández married Mara del Refugio Abarca Villaseor in 1963, the same year his mother died, and they had three boys and a girl. Vicente, his eldest son, was abducted in 1998 and had two of his fingers amputated by kidnappers who demanded a $5 million ransom in exchange for his release. Vicente Jr., now 58, has followed in his father’s footsteps as a ranchera singer, as has another son, Alejandro.
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Vicente “Chente” Fernández, King of Ranchera Music and Mariachis, Dies at 81. He is also credited with having brought the mariachi music to mainstream audiences in the United States. Reference: ranchera music.
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