Mexican singer-songwriter Juan Gabriel has passed away at the age of 66, his publicist said on Sunday. His work ran the gamut from love ballads known for bringing his fans to tears to upbeat, mariachi dance tunes.
Gabriel, whose real name was Alberto Aguilera Valadez, passed away in his California home after suffering a heart attack.
A career spanning four decades and sales of 100 million albums, Juan Gabriel was also known for his flamboyant live performances - often donning hot pink, turquoise or canary yellow silk dress shirts or jackets covered in sequins.
His passing was mourned across Mexico, including by President Enrique Pena Nieto who tweeted: "I regret the death of Juan Gabriel, one of the great musical icons of our country. My condolences to his relatives and friends."
One of the most memorable moments of his career came in 1990, when he was the first popular musician to play at Mexico City's prestigious Palace of Fine Arts, until then reserved for classical performances. He regularly played to packed arenas like the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden in New York.
Rags to riches
Born in 1950, he wrote his first song at age 13 and would go on to write over 1,500 songs in his lifetime, including hits for other Latin artists. Amongst his numerous accolades were six Grammy nominations, induction into the Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
From his humble beginnings as the son of a single mother who worked as a maid, Juan Gabriel rose from having only a fifth-grade education and sleeping on the streets of Mexico City to being Mexico's top-selling artist.
Juan Gabriel gave his last performance just two days before his death in Los Angeles.
es/kl (AP, AFP)