The last living icon of Mexican ranchera music has passed away.
On Sunday, December 13, Vicente “Chente” Fernandez, died at 81. Dubbed the Sinatra of the Mexican ranchera and the mariachi music, his captivating tenor voice positioned him as the undisputed king of the genre in Mexico and across the U.S., particularly in Southern California. Los Angeles being the fan capital of the late superstar, saw hundreds of adoring fans gathered around his Hollywood Walk of Fame Star to pay tribute.
LA honors Vicente Fernandez by singing Volver Volver on Sunset Boulevard on his Hollywood Walk of Fame pic.twitter.com/V6BKmqXGwi
— Steve Saldivar (@stevesaldivar) December 12, 2021
While the cause of his death has not been confirmed, the superstar was hospitalized after a fall at his ranch in Jalisco and was later diagnosed with an autoimmune condition known as Guillain–Barré syndrome. According to reports, his steady improvements took a sudden turn for the worst in the days leading up to his death.
Fernandez’s rich operatic voice was matched with incredible showmanship, theatrically embroidered outfits and his signature sombrero which stretched past his shoulders. He sang songs that told stories of love, loss, forgiveness, political corruption, and philandering Caballeros, striking a chord amongst Spanish-speaking listeners across the world.
One of his most famous songs “Volver, Volver” lingers through the generations—you’ve probably heard abuelitos singing it or have heard a cover by virtually Mexican-American star. It’s also Dodger player Alex Verdugo’s theme song and solidified Fernández’s notoriety when a stadium of 50,000 fans all broke out into song during a game in October.
50 mil cantando “Volver, Volver”, la legendaria pieza de Fernando Z. Maldonado que inmortalizó el grandioso Vicente Fernández. pic.twitter.com/SZY2O8lBHR
— Enrique Rojas/ESPN (@Enrique_Rojas1) October 22, 2021
The lyrics to his songs are instantly recognizable, simultaneously encapsulating a deep range of joy and pain. Naturally, they have scored many momentous occasions, making their way into countless weddings, birthdays and celebrations. Chente’s career spanned over a century and will continue to resonate with young and old audiences for decades to come.