Vicente Fernández, an icon of traditional Mexican music, has died. He was 81 years old.
While an official cause of death was not available, Fernández had been hospitalized since August after taking a fall on his Guadalajara ranch that required emergency spinal surgery. Fernández’s family later reported that the performer had been diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome, an autoimmune condition. While the singer had been recuperating over the past months, his health had taken a turn for the worse more recently.
“Rest in peace, Mr. Vicente Fernández,” reads a statement on the singer’s Instagram page. The post has been translated from Spanish here. “We regret to inform you of his death on Sunday, December 12 at 6:15 a.m. It was his honor and great pride to share with everyone a great musical career and to give everything for his audience. Thank you for continuing to applaud, thank you for continuing to sing.”
Known as “Chente” to his fans, Fernández was considered by many to be one of the last remaining artists of the Mexican ranchera, the style of song rooted in traditions of rural Mexico. Many of his hit songs, like “Volver, Volver,” “El Rey” and “Lástima que seas ajena,” became mainstays in Mexican culture.
Born on Feb. 17, 1940 in Jalisco, Vicente Fernández Gómez was raised on the ranch of his father. In 1988, Fernández received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Over the course of his career, the performer won three Grammys and eight Latin Grammys, among many other honors. He sold more than 50 million records and appeared in more than 30 films.
In April 2016, Fernández bid farewell to live performance at a large-scale concert at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, drawing more than 80,000 fans from across the globe.
Fernández is survived by his wife, Maria del Refugio Abarca Villaseñor, and three children.