Mariachi Legend Vicente Fernandez Dead at 81

Ranchera music legend Vicente Fernandez, nicknamed “El Charro de Huentitan” and known for hits including “El Rey” and “Lástima que seas ajena,” has died. Fernandez passed away at a hospital in the western Mexican city of Guadalajara on Sunday, months after he underwent surgery for a cervical spine injury following a fall at his home his summer. He was 81.

Fernandez’s family confirmed his passing in a statement shared to the legend’s official Instagram account, reading, “rest in Peace Mr. Vicente Fernández. We regret to inform you of his death on Sunday, December 12 at 6:15 a.m.” The statement, shared alongside a black-and-white image of Fernandez, continued, “it was an honor and a great pride to share with everyone a great musical career and to give everything for his audience. Thank you for continuing to applaud, thank you for continuing to sing.

Known as “Chente” to his fans, Fernández was born in February 1940 in Jalisco. He recorded more than 300 songs throughout his more than five-decade-long career, including hits like “Volver, Volver,” “Por Tu Maldito Amor,” and “El Rey.” He recorded more than 50 albums, sold more than 50 million records, and was nominated for 13 Grammys, ultimately winning three, according to Deadline. Fernandez also made several appearances in Spanish language films from 1969 to 1991. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 2002 was named Person of the Year by the Latin Recording Academy. In April 2016, Fernández retired from live performance.

“With heavy hearts, we bid adiós to Regional Mexican legend and cultural icon Vicente “Chente” Fernández,” the Latin Recording Academy and Recording Academy said in a joint statement. “For more than 60 years, the singer, producer and actor brought the musical traditions of his beloved country to audiences worldwide through his amazing performances and his gifted voice, which featured impressive operatic power and range.”

Fernandez is survived by his wife, Maria del Refugio Abarca Villaseñor, and three children. At this time, memorial plans have not been revealed, though fans of the famed musician have shared numerous tributes to Fernandeez online, with some gathering at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for a vigil.

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