The legendary Mexican musician Vicente Fernandez has died. Vicente Fernandez was 81. He has been hospitalized since August following a fall at his Guadalajara ranch in the central state of Jalisco, which required emergency spinal surgery.
According to the media, the family reported that he had also been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its nerves. He had been improving steadily for months, but in recent days his health began to deteriorate.
Among Mexican songwriters, Fernández is regarded as the last living legend of the ranchera, a style deeply rooted in the values and traditions of rural Mexico.
During his performance, he sang about cockfights and rodeos, love and heartbreak – all while wearing the chic costume of Mexico’s cowboy, the charro, and accompanying himself with a full mariachi ensemble.
He became synonymous with Mexico himself over the course of a six-decade career. It is said that his velvety baritone became a staple of the lives of Mexicans and lovers of Mexico across the globe, providing the soundtrack to weddings, quinceaeras, baptisms, birthdays, and funerals.
The Mexican macho was also his symbol. He wore a sombrero with a shoulder-wide brim that punctuated his shoulder-long mullet with a thick black mustache.
As he sang for hours, drenched in sweat, he wore a pistol on his hip and wore it while performing. After swigging some tequila, he continued to sing as if he might be wrapping up.
Vicente Fernandez was mourned across Los Angeles
Mexico’s patriarchal culture and his image were well suited together. Fernandez also dispelled some of the expectations Mexican culture places on its men – that they be walls of stoicism and suppress emotion.
He openly wept in many of his songs, drowning in the pain of bitter heartbreak as he gasped for breath.
Fernando Fernandez was born in 1940 in a small town in the ranching state of Jalisco. He worked odd jobs as a boy in Tijuana, including washing cars, digging ditches, shining shoes, and pouring the foundations for homes in the city’s early suburbs.
He began singing in bars and restaurants at the tender age of 19, and soon made his way to Mexico City and Guadalajara, where he persuaded record labels to record his music. He achieved his first hit in 1969 with “Tu Camino y,” a nostalgic ballad about an unrequited love.
He would have many more over the decades. A number of his albums sold millions of copies and won three Grammy Awards.
He always emphasized his humble origins, and felt an affinity with Mexicans from the poor, working classes, and rural areas. The singer performed in large concert halls as well as bullrings and cockfight pits.
His music was a gateway back to the ranches and towns they had reluctantly left behind when they arrived in the U.S. and around the world.
As a singer, he was legendary for his longevity and popularity spanning generations, said Jose Anguiano, a professor at California State University, Los Angeles.
His popularity even among Mexican-Americans and young Mexicans today has a lot to do with the timelessness of his recordings, but it also has a lot to do with how Mexican families have reaffirmed their pride in Mexico and Mexican culture by listening to Anguiano’s music.
Vicente Fernandez has been hospitalized since August following a fall at his Guadalajara ranch in the central state of Jalisco, which required emergency spinal surgery. Fernández is regarded as the last living legend of the ranchera, a style deeply rooted in the values and traditions of rural Mexico.
He achieved his first hit in 1969 with “Tu Camino y,” a nostalgic ballad about an unrequited love. He had been improving steadily for months, but in recent days his health began to deteriorate.