Mexican music icon Juan Gabriel dead at 66

Posted at 7:19 PM, Aug 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-28 21:19:12-04

By Mayra Cuevas


(CNN) — Juan Gabriel, the prolific Latin American music icon, died of natural causes in Santa Monica, California, on Sunday morning, Los Angeles County Coroner spokeswoman Selena Barros said.

He performed at The Forum in Los Angeles on Friday night. On Sunday he was scheduled to perform a concert in El Paso, Texas, and he had 15 other US tour dates scheduled through early December.

Juan Gabriel, whose legal name was Alberto Aguilera Valadez, was 66. He sold more than 100 million records during his career, according to his website. Gabriel also wrote songs for other artists and appeared in the 1975 Mexican film, “Nobleza Ranchera,” and four other movies.

He was nominated for numerous Grammys and was inducted into Billboard’s Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1996.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said in a tweet: “We lament the death of Juan Gabriel, one of the biggest musical icons of our country. My condolences to his family and friends.”

He added, “A voice and a talent that represented Mexico. His music is a legacy to the world. He left us too soon. May he rest in peace.”

Known to his fans as El Divo de Juarez, Juan Gabriel led Billboard magazine’s Top Latin Albums charts five times between 2016 and 2015.

“More leaders than any other artist in that span of time,” according to Billboard.

In his 45-year career, he was best known for his soulful ballads and romantic rancheras. His website lists more than 60 albums, with the first, “El Alma Joven,” produced in 1971.

His classic hits include “Querida,” “Porqué me haces llorar?” “El Noa Noa” and “Hasta que te conocí.”

Fans flocked to social media to share their memories — many of them rooted in childhood and family — of the man whose ballads resonated throughout their lives. Many said his death brought them to tears.

CNN’s Jaqueline Hurtado, Eliott C. McLaughlin and CNN Español contributed to this report.