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Juan Gabriel
(January 7, 1950 - August 28 2016) Mexico

Juan Gabriel

Singer songwriter

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Juan Gabriel, whose real name is Alberto Aguilera Valadez, was born in Parácuaro, Michoacán. He was colloquially nicknamed as Juanga and El Divo de Juárez, and also known as Adán Luna. The son of farmers, he was the youngest of ten siblings. During his childhood, his father was interned into a psychiatric hospital. Due to this, his mother moved to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and he was put in the El Tribunal boarding school where he remained eight years.

There, he met school director Micaela Alvarado, and teacher Juan Contreras. Juan became very close with Contreras, then escaped El Tribunal and lived with him for a year when he was 13. In the same year, Juan composed his first song. At 14 Juan returned to live with his mother in the center of the town. He became interested in a local Methodist Church where he sang in the choir and helped by cleaning the church.

In 1965, Juan debuted on the Notivisa (now Gala TV Ciudad Juárez) television show Noches Rancheras . Host Raúl Loya gave him the pseudonym Adán Luna. From 1966 to 1968, he started to work as a singer at the Noa-Noa bar. He also worked as a singer in other bars in the town. Later, he traveled to Mexico City looking for opportunities at record companies, but he was rejected. He returned to Juárez, where he continued working as a singer. The next year, he tried again to be signed by a record label. At RCA Víctor, he was hired by Eduardo Magallanes to work as a backing vocalist. In 1970, he resigned because he received insufficient payment and returned to work the bars in Juárez.

Juan Gabriel
Juan Gabriel at the 2006 San Jose Mariachi Festival

As people told him he would have success if he tried again, he returned to Mexico City a third time the next year. Not having enough money, Aguilera slept in bus and train stations. At a certain point, he was wrongly accused of robbery, and was imprisoned in the Palacio de Lecumberri prison for a year and a half. During this time, he wrote songs, which helped him to meet Andrés Puentes Vargas, Lecumberri's prison warden, who introduced him to Mexican singer and actress La Prieta Linda. She helped him, and due to the lack of evidence he was released from prison.

La Prieta Linda helped Aguilera at RCA Víctor, where he signed a recording contract. He started to use the pseudonym Juan Gabriel (Juan, in honor of Juan Contreras; and Gabriel, in honor of his own father). In 1971, Juan Gabriel released his first studio album El Alma Joven , which was certified as gold by the Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas.

Over fifteen years, Gabriel's fame grew as he recorded 15 albums and sold 20 million records. He wrote and recorded over 1000 songs in a variety of music genre. Gabriel established himself as Mexico's leading commercial singer-songwriter, penning in many diverse styles such as rancheras with mariachi, ballads, pop, rock, disco, with an incredible string of hits for himself and for leading Latin singers. His lyrics dealt with heartbreak and romantic relationships that became hymns throughout Latin America, Spain, and the United States.

Juan Gabriel
Juan Gabriel at Pepsi Center in 2014

Juan Gabriel was never married. He had six children. On November 14, 2005, Gabriel was injured when he fell from the stage at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, and was hospitalized at Texas Medical Center. He sustained a fractured neck. He was forced to stay off tour and bedridden for eight months.

Juan Gabriel died of a heart attack at his home in Santa Monica, California, while still on a tour in the United States. His body was cremated; the ashes were laid to rest at a house he owned in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, after receiving tributes from the city and Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. An autopsy was not performed to determine the cause of death.

His death became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter after news reports were confirmed. President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto, called him one of Mexico's "greatest musical icons". United States President Barack Obama also commented on Gabriel's death and complimented his music for "transcending borders and generations" and that "his spirited will live on in his enduring songs, and in the hearts of the fans who love him".

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CDs:

  • Juan Gabriel en el Pallacio del Bellas Artes in "Celebrando 25 años de Juan Gabriel".
  • Abrázame muy fuerte (2000)
  • Por los siglos (2002)
Films:
  • Nobleza Ranchera
  • Del otro lada del puerto
  • Es mi vida
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