Juan Gabriel, born Alberto Aguilera Valdez and known to many of his fans as Juanga, died last month from a heart attack at the age of 66.
His work encompassed numerous musical genres including bolero, Mariachi, balada, and Latin pop. Many of his compositions were also recorded by other artists such as Rocío Dúrcal, Ana Gabriel, José José, Luis Miguel, Daniela Romo, and Lucha Villa.
Juanga’s best-known song is Querida, but when I think about his compositions the first thing that comes to mind is an amusing line from another piece, no hay mas en Guaymas.
Lorenzo Antonio recorded two tribute albums, Mi Tributo A Juan Gabriel and Tributo 2.
Juan Gabriel was one of the most prolific singers and composers in Mexico. A flamboyant, closeted performer afraid to come out because he worried it would adversely impact his career.
I first heard about him during a 1984 visit to Mexico that began with a stopover in Tijuana. I was given a personal tour of the city by Emilio, a local activist, who pointed out a house Juan Gabriel bought for a man who helped the singer-composer early on. In a Mexico City music store I encountered a life-size, cardboard, cutout of Gabriel that was part of national promotion by his record label.
Though I was curious about Mexican popular music then, I didn’t begin collecting CD’s until 1995. I like romantica!
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