Singer Juan Gabriel, Juarez’s favorite son who went on to world-wide fame, has died in Santa Monica, California. Officials say he died of a heart attack.
Gabriel had performed Friday and Saturday night in Los Angeles and was scheduled to perform Sunday night in El Paso.
Gabriel, who was lovingly known as ‘The Divo of Juarez’ was still very active, touring the Americas and bringing his songs to fans all across the hemisphere.
The life and times of the beloved singer were recently made into a 13 episode TV series on Telemundo; the show was after one of Gabriel’s hits, ‘Hasta Que Te Conocí (Until I Met You)’ followed his journey from Juarez through his rise to fame.
Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, tweeted Sunday afternoon that Gabriel was “gone way too soon” and that his music and talent represented the best of Mexico.
Mexico’s former President, Vicente Fox shared, “Today Mexico has lost one of its stars. Rest in peace, Juan Gabriel, a great friend, great artist and wonderful human being.”
Just last year, Gabriel was in Juarez, as the city unveiled a mural in Downtown honoring his career and his deep roots in the city.
He performed a concert at the new ‘X’ monument in Juarez, in front of a crowd estimated at over 100,000 attendees.
His new tour, called “MeXXIco Es Todos” (XXI symbolizing the 21st century) was to make the rounds this fall in over 20 U.S. cities including Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago.
According to Gabriel’s career bio for his upcoming tour, his accomplishments were lengthy:
Before Gabriel was “the divo of Juarez,” he was a poor orphan on the streets of Juarez. His 1971 breakout hit was actually titled “No Tengo Dinero” (I Have No Money). It would be impossible to list all the hits that followed, as Gabriel has over 1,500 songwriting credits to his name, including “Querida,” “Amor Eterno” and “Hasta Que Te Conoci.” He’s released upwards of 50 albums, selling over 20 million copies and has produced 100 more albums for everyone from Paul Anka to Lucha Villa.
Born January 7, 1950 in Paracuaro, Michoacan, Mexico; his mother and siblings moved to Juarez, where she became a housekeeper. Gabriel spend his formative years in Juarez, and was virtually adopted as a native son of the city; Gabriel returned countless times to Juarez throughout his life and embraced the community as well.
The 66 year-old won countless awards and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Officials have not announced any information about services or memorials, however in a live report via Univision, there was word that his body may be transferred back to Juarez.
A Mexican Government Official also said a ‘very large’ memorial service would be set for Gabriel in Mexico City.
*** Editor’s note: A previous version of this story listed Juan Gabriel as a native-born resident of Juarez, the article has been corrected to include his original place of birth.