Guadalajara: Vicente Fernandez, the towering icon of Mexican ranchera music whose powerful voice defined the lives of generations of fans throughout Latin America, passed away on Sunday.
According to Billboard, the cause was complications following surgery for a cervical spine injury after a bad fall last August.
Fernandez had remained hospitalised since then in stable but serious condition. Over the last 24 hours, his condition deteriorated, according to official posts from his medical team on his official Instagram account. He was 81 years old.
Immediately recognisable for his elegant charro outfits and hat, his bold moustache and his dazzling smile, Fernandez was only five-foot-7 but had the stature and bearing of a giant. His concerts were the stuff of legend, extending for hours on end depending on the audiences’ whim.
Fernandez’s death is also the end of an era of extraordinary Mexican music and legendary performers and composers — Javier Solis, Pedro Infante, Antonio Aguilar, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Jorge Negrete — of which Fernandez was the youngest.
Fernandez was also an actor who starred in over 30 films, emulating the careers of his hero Pedro Infante.
“Mi’ja, I’ve always said it,” he told Billboard in an interview at his fabled ranch in Guadalajara in 2012.
“A singer can sing anything. But me, my life is Mexican music. For me, putting on my charro outfit is a matter of pride and it’s a very big responsibility. The charro outfit goes hand in hand with the personality Vicente Fernandez has given it. Without the charro outfit, I don’t feel I’m me,” he added.
Fernandez legacy is cemented in the public consciousness of all Latin America, where he was indelibly identified with his hit “El Rey,” written and originally recorded by Jose Alfredo Jimenez, but forever preserved in Fernandez’s voice after he recorded it in 1991.
Despite his stellar career, Fernandez, of course, had setbacks and tragedy. Most notably, his son Vicente Fernandez, Jr, was kidnapped for ransom in 1998 and two of his fingers were cut during his captivity and mailed to the family.
Fernandez is survived by his wife and his four children: Vicente Jr., Alejandro, Gerardo and daughter Alejandra Fernandez.