My father recently dusted off a batch of old family records that had been sitting in storage for years and gave me a musical treasure trove that I’m still sifting through with awe. The hefty record collection ranges from the obscure to classic Mexican musical gems, mostly from the 1970s.
When news broke of the death of iconic Mexican singer-songwriter Juan Gabriel on Sunday, I dug through the old crates. Tucked inside were a pair of his records from the 1970s, with album covers featuring Juan Gabriel’s boyish face staring off into the distance. The prolific artist, who was scheduled to perform Sunday night in El Paso, Texas, died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California. He was 66.
He leaves behind a musical legacy that spans more than four decades. According to Billboard.com, Juan Gabriel had the highest-grossing Latin tour of 2015, earning $31.8 million for 32 shows in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Songs such as “El Noa Noa,” “Amor Eterno” and “No Tengo Dinero” have served as the soundtrack for generations of Latinos. His showmanship and grand stage presence earned him the nickname the “Divo of Juárez.”
As a late summer shower pours down on Austin on Sunday evening, I’m listening to the magic of Juan Gabriel’s music on my record player with pops, hisses and all. It’s probably been more than 20 years since these family records have been played, but today Juan Gabriel’s debut album “El Alma Joven” and his 1978 album “Siempre en Mi Mente” will fill my home with the classic pop and rock that will continue to inspire music lovers.
Celebrate the legendary artist’s life with this playlist of some of my favorites: