My godson MT3 calls me this afternoon with this news: “Nina, Juan Gabriel died. Just wanted you to know.” WWWOOOWWW.
One of the giants of Mexican and Latin music, gone. He was at one of his homes in Santa Monica, CA and had a heart attack today 8/28/2016. Juan Gabriel was currently on tour and had done his final concert at The Forum in Los Angeles, CA on Friday night.
Once I got home, I went straight to the TV hoping that I had not missed news coverage on the passing of this icon. Fast forward, four hours later, and there is still coverage on Spanish TV about Juan Gabriel’s death. What struck me was the astounding amount of songs that this man composed in his lifetime. Every story would have Juanga’s music playing, “Amor Eterno”, “Yo No Naci Para Amar” “Abrazame Muy Fuerte” “No Tengo Dinero” “Querida” “Noa Noa” “No Me Vuelvo A Enamorar” “Hasta Que Te Conoci” and the list goes on and on and on. My social media has blown up with every other post on Juanga’s passing. So much of my radio and event fam has a story to tell about him.
Throughout my entire career in radio, I have been surrounded by Juan Gabriel music, all of his MANY hits I have played on the radio, to so many of his concerts, I have taken winners in to “Meet & Greets”, given out concert tickets, and I remember one time that we were taking winners to take pictures with Juan Gabriel, who, at the time, was not crazy about taking pictures. So there I go making sure that my winners get their photo, and my crew and I each take a picture with him. When we got the pictures back, we were told that they had been “damaged” during the processing and everyone’s pictures with Juanga came out fuzzy, grainy, and dark. Sera cierto? My picture is somewhere in my storage unit, so I have not included it in this entry.
Another time, I took winners to LA to see a concert at Universal Studios, it wasn’t Juan Gabriel :). My BFF Maria GarciaRIP and her friend went with us. As I was flying to SFO with winners and Maria was flying to Sac Airport, my flight left first. Later that evening, I get a call from Maria saying that her flight had been delayed. While they were waiting for their flight, they decided to go to one of the airport restaurants. Once seated, to their absolute shock, guess who was at the next table? None other than Juan Gabriel! You better know Maria checked it all out and proceeds to tell me that Juanga had iced tea and a salad with Thousand Island dressing, and that he kept asking for more dressing LOL
Juan Gabriel was one of Mama’s favorite artists EVER. One of the joys of my life was to have been able to take her to see him in concert, she loved it. I was very excited when Rocio Durcal (Mama’s #1 artist) and Juan Gabriel were on tour TOGETHER. When they sang together, it was pure magic. And, as Rocio became an international star by singing songs written by Juan Gabriel, including my mother’s favorite song, “Amor Eterno”, everytime I hear either of these two legends, my thoughts go first to Mama and how much she enjoyed their music. Here they are “a duo” singing “Fue Un Placer Conocerte”, straight-up perfection.
Out of all of the many, many, many songs of Juan Gabriel, I have always been a fan of his straight-up, in your face, tomacabron songs OF COURSE accompanied by mariachi. His phrasing, his fast-paced style of fitting so many words in one line so they sound like one lyric is second to none, I would sit in amazement wondering when this man took a breath. Juanga felt every word and every note of the song, his interpretation was, many times, more than a performance, it was a tour de force. Juan Gabriel was fun, flashy, emotional, divo, authentic, original, gifted, prolific, and would leave it all on the stage, every time. Check out the video below and see for yourself!
My all-time favorite Juan Gabriel songs are “Se Me Olvido Otra Vez”, “Insensible”, “Te Voy A Olvidar” and “La Diferencia”… here is Rocio Durcal in what is my very favorite version of “La Diferencia”
I could go on and on and on. Juan Gabriel was already beloved in life for the music that was the soundtrack to people’s lives. His influence on future composers and musicians will be felt for many years to come. No habra otro igual. Que En Paz Descanse Juan Gabriel.