MEXICO CITY -Mexican superstar songwriter and singer Juan Gabriel died Sunday at age 66 at his home in California, his publicist said.
A flamboyant performer, Juan Gabriel, whose real name was Alberto Aguilera Valadez, liked to wear jackets covered in sequins or dress in shiny silk outfits in hot pink, turquoise blue or canary yellow, and he was known for tossing his head before dancing or jumping around the stage.
“He has passed on to become part of eternity and has left us his legacy through Juan Gabriel, the character created by him for all the music that has been sung and performed all around the world,” his press office said in a statement.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said through his official Twitter account: “I regret the death of Juan Gabriel, one of the great musical icons of our country. My condolences to his relatives and friends.”
Juan Gabriel broke ground in Mexico in 1990 by becoming the first commercial singer to present a show at Mexico City’s majestic Palace of Fine Arts, until then a forum reserved for classical musicians.
Juan Gabriel also wrote and produced albums for artists such as Mexican singer Lucha Villa and Spain’s Rocio Durcal.
He was also linked to the Cali drug cartel when Fernando Rodriguez, son of Colombian drug trafficker Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, wrote in his book “The Son of Chess Player” that Juan Gabriel sang at a party in Colombia for the cartel leaders.
“I’m not married; I don’t ever plan to marry. I’m happy single,” Juan Gabriel is quoted as saying in his biography by Mexico’s Society of Music Authors and Composers.