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Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Mario Lopez mourn Vicente Fernández: ‘Voice of a culture’

A man waving a sombrero and singing into a microphone
Music legend Vicente Fernández performs in Mexico City’s Zócalo in 2017.
(Claudio Cruz / Associated Press)

Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan and Mario Lopez joined the legions of mournful fans honoring the extraordinary life and eternal legacy of 81-year-old Mexican music legend Vicente Fernández, whose death was announced Sunday.

Martin summed up the feelings of many in just a few words: “Estoy con el corazón roto,” he wrote on Instagram — “I’m heartbroken.”

The singer and actor posted a photo of himself sharing the stage with Fernández in 2019 at the Latin Grammy Awards, where Fernández received the Premio de la Presidencia, a lifetime achievement award. Martin eulogized Fernández as an “angel” who frequently attended his concerts. “He loved me very much and I loved him,” Martin said, fondly invoking the charismatic crooner’s nickname, Chente.

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On the sacred Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, fans across the globe flooded Twitter with memories of the king of rancheras, a cultural icon whose silky baritone reverberated across generations.

“Vicente Fernandez was not just a singer,” tweeted @oucrimsongirl. “He was the voice of a culture. He was the voice of marginalized people. He had a natural, raw talent that rivaled a classically trained opera singer. Often imitated but never replicated. R.I.P. to El Rey.”

“Rest in Peace, Vicente Fernandez,” wrote Our Esquina editor Jose de Jesus Ortiz. “You were the soundtrack of my life. My Mexican parents introduced me to your music. Your songs provided comfort & a sense of home from the first time I left home for basic training throughout all my moves. You were an idol. You remain El Rey!”

The last of Mexico’s crooning matinee idols, the self-taught troubadour recorded more than 50 albums, all in Spanish, and sold tens of millions of copies.

Among the many who penned heartfelt tributes to Fernández was TV host and “Saved by the Bell” actor Mario Lopez, who hailed the prolific entertainer as “the voice of a culture who filled the households of many of us who grew up listening to his songs.”

“His music is the soundtrack to a ton of memories growing up,” Lopez tweeted. “Damn, I’m sad.”

Several affectionately recalled listening, singing and drinking along to some of Fernández’s greatest hits, such as the romantic ballad “Volver, Volver” and “El Rey,” which firmly cemented his regal status in the entertainment industry.

“I can’t begin to calculate how Vicente Fernández’s music has impacted my and my family’s life,” tweeted Vice senior staff writer Alex Zaragoza.

“Endless 2 am mariachi sing-alongs to ‘Volver Volver,’ my mom drunk crying to ‘El Rey’ at the rancho, my dad and tíos tirando la madre to ‘Por Tu Maldito Amor.’ RIP to our King QEPD. ... Really tho where is the Mexican delegation in New York and where are we drinking today???? I need to sing and cry.”

“El Rancho de Vicente” has played the music of Vicente Fernández for more than 20 years.

Gloria Estefan offered her condolences to Fernández’s fans and loved ones during what the singer called a difficult and painful day for the music world, which mourned a man who carried his culture with style, far and wide. He leaves a legacy in song and on film, she said, and new generations will carry his name with each note they sing.

While appearing on KTLA 5’s weekend morning news program, radio DJ Big Boy got emotional while speaking about his longtime friend, who welcomed him to his Mexican ranch and lovingly dubbed him “El Angelito Negro,” or “The Black Angel.” Big Boy said he grew up listening to Fernández’s music and met him after booking him as a guest on his radio program.

In 2010, Fernández invited Big Boy onstage with him at Los Angeles’ Gibson Amphitheatre for a passionate cover of “Aca Entre Nos.” In his office, Big Boy keeps a framed photo of the two men trading outfits backstage.

“My heart hurts,” Big Boy wrote Sunday on Instagram. “I’ve dreaded this day for YEARS. I had a beautiful friendship with Vicente Fernandez. From my first interview with Chente, we hit it off. He had no idea why they were taking him to a Hip Hop station.”

Still, Big Boy said, Fernández did his show “countless” times, and Big Boy saw the singer in concert “well over 50 times.”

“He was such a beautiful, kind, loving and caring person,” Big Boy said. “I’ve patterned a lot of how I treat people who listen to me the way Chenté would do his fans. ... Thank you for ALL the wonderful years. Love you, my dear friend. May you rest well, El Rey.”

The venerable norteño act Los Tigres del Norte released a statement Sunday that said music itself was in mourning after the death of Fernández.

“We will always remember him and thank him for the legacy he leaves us all,” Los Tigres del Norte wrote in a caption to a photo with the vocalist, dressed in his signature embroidered suit and sombrero. “His word will remain law.”

Vicente Fernandez says ‘adios’ at Staples, ‘hola’ to Gibson

See more reactions to Fernández’s death below.


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