BREAKING NEWS: Latin America Mourns Juan Gabriel

F. Kenneth Taylor

Before he was Adán Luna, and before he became ‘The Latino Elvis’…  On January 7th, 1950, in Western Mexico, Juan Gabriel was born, Alberto Aguilera Valadez, the youngest of 10 offsprings parented by two farmers.  After spending eight years within a boarding school; he escaped at the age of 13, and was taken in by two sisters of a methodist church… soon afterwards, he joined the choir.

Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images. Juan Gabriel. Aug. 29th, 2016

Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images. Juan Gabriel. Aug. 29th, 2016

When he was only 15; Valadez got his first break, and appeared on the Noches Ranteras show on the Notivisia TV Network from 1965 to 1968, and Adán Luna was born.  Despite an early break, success did not come easily, overnight, or without turmoil for Alberto Aguilera Valadez.  He would spend forthcoming years scrapping by as an underpaid background vocalist, a solo act performing small-time bar gigs, and receive several rejections by record companies.  Before he would record smash hits such as; Hasta Que Te Conoci (Until I Met You) and Amor Eterno (Eternal Love), and soar to unprecedented heights in Latin Music, he would also survive a brief stint of homelessness, and 1.5 years in prison.

Ironically, it was his time in prison that would become the springboard to his music career and transform him into a Latin Music icon.  It was in prison where he wrote the songs, “No Tengo Dinero,” and “Me He Quedado Solo,” which would gain the warden’s attention, and who would ultimately introduced him to La Prieta Linda.  Linda not only helped get Valadez freed from prison, but also negotiated a contract with RCA Victor.

Upon signing his contract, Valadez then took on the Pseudonym, Juan Gabriel.  Valadez explained, ‘Juan’ was in honor of Juan Contreras and ‘Gabriel’ was in honor of his late father.  Juan Gabriel recorded his first album entitled, El Alma Joven, in 1971, and the song he wrote in prison, “No Tengo Dinero,” would become his very first hit record.

Juan Gabriel’s career would go on to span the course of 4.5 decades, earning him over 100 million record sales, and righteous comparisons as being the Latino equivalent of Michael Jackson, and again titles such as; ‘The Latino Elvis’.  Gabriel’s last concert was just this past Friday, August 26th, 2016 in Indglewood, CA… He passed away last night, Sunday, August 28th, 2016, at the age of 66, in his California home from a heart attack.  He will truly be missed.



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