Share your memories of Mexican music giant Juan Gabriel
Fans across Los Angeles woke up Monday to mourn the death of Mexican music giant Juan Gabriel the best way they know how: by blasting his music. From mechanic shops and panaderias to beauty salons and cars inching along the 5 Freeway, people sang along with their radios and their beloved singer, who died Sunday in Santa Monica.
Born Alberto Aguilera Valadez, Juan Gabriel went on to become the bestselling singer in Mexican history. His ballads and rancheras were a backdrop to many Latino lives: on Sunday mornings, at family weddings, during heartbreaks and death.
We invite you to share your thoughts and personal stories on Juan Gabriel in the comments section below.
Here are some personal stories from fans across Los Angeles and beyond:
To the editor: Juan Gabriel was and always will be an international music icon. Growing up in Mexico City as a little girl, it was clear that Juan Gabriel was the love of my mom’s life. Nobody could mess with his name or image because you would get threatened with the chancla. :) Even my father knew he had to respect “Juanga.” We were woken up to his music daily, while my mom was getting ready.
Our family knew he was my mom’s idol. She will never forget the day she met him at one of his concerts, and will forever keep the memory of his humility, amicable attitude and gratefulness toward his audience.
There was not one day that one of his songs was not sung, referenced or hummed in our home. He was, is and always will be a part of our lives through his songs and words that resonate through his lyrics to things we’ve lived, such as love, heartache, happiness and sadness.
Rest in peace, maestro, your music will transcend to many generations that will not have the pleasure of meeting you in life, but will appreciate your talent and the musical legacy you left.
Nancy C. in Long Beach
Birthdays? There he was, serenading us, singing “Las Mananitas.” Waking us up early after a night out? Dad would blast “Buenos Dias Sr Sol.” First boyfriend cheated? There was Juanga, joining me in my sorrow with “La Farsante.” Finding love at last with my husband? Joyfully singing and dancing to “Me Nace del Corazon.” When I had my two beautiful babies? “Abrazame Muy Fuerte.” When a loved one died? “Amor Eterno.” And so on and so forth.
When I was 18, I moved to Mexico to discover my Mexican self, and what I discovered was that there was something amazing on one of the radio stations: “La Hora de Juan Gabriel.” That sealed the deal, much to the amazement of my Mexican cousins who wondered why I was so obsessed with him.
And now, so many years later, I live in the Netherlands. My kids hate when I put on his music. Oh, but I know. I know the cycle. Someday I knew this day would come, and it has. Just waiting for the other shoe of my identity to drop: Bruce Springsteen. The two perfect sides of a beautiful coin.
Leticia Vasquez, Netherlands
Juan Gabriel was a staple in every Latino household. In mine he brought happiness and love with the strength and power of his music. He also helped bring so much pride in being Mexican. He was from Ciudad Juarez and so was my grandpa, although my grandpa is no longer here. Juan Gabriel was always a reminder to him that Juarez is more than just a city known for drugs and violence. Juan Gabriel will always be a part of our family, and keeps our spirits high with his beautiful songs.
In my house there was never a weekend that didn’t involve Spanish music blasting from the stereo. I was introduced to the greatest Latin singer/songwriters, thanks to my parents. Juan Gabriel was at the top of the playlist.
Coming from a Mexican/American household, I was able to take in two music cultures.
At 8 years old I was listening to everything from Juan Gabriel and Vicente Fernandez to the Backstreet boys and Britney Spears. Every summer when I would go to Mexico to stay with my grandma, “Amor Eterno” would be on repeat.
I remember watching him sing “Las Mañanitas” for the Virgen de Guadalupe with Rocio Durcal at the Basilica and just being mesmerized by both of them.
His unique style and charismatic personality will always be remembered, but the memory I hold the strongest is Juan Gabriel being the last song the Mariachi played before my grandma was buried at her funeral. That moment was so powerful because of his lyrics and how they were so emotionally accurate to our situation. He will always be our Juanga, I’m sure my coquito (grandma) is having a whiskey with him as we speak.
Dayana Leon Evans
Editor’s note: Comments have been edited to reflect L.A. Times style.
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