The death of singer Vicente Fernández — nicknamed "El Chente" — hit hard for Mexicans around the world, particularly for the older generation. He was known to his many fans as El Rey — the King — of Ranchera, a musical style rooted in the values and traditions of rural Mexico.
He was born and died in Guadalajara, Mexico, the epicenter of ranchera music. For more than half a century, the mustachioed mariachi superstar belted out songs like Volver Volver, an anthem to lost love. With his elegant charro suit, a magnificent wide-brimmed sombrero and a pistol on his hip, he was a cultural icon. During his long career, he sold more than 50 million albums, starred in dozens of films, won three Grammys, eight Latin Grammys, and left a musical legacy.
In one of his most popular songs, El Rey, he sang "el día que yo me muera sé que tendrás que llorar." Translation: "On the day I die I know you will have to cry." This week, those lyrics came to be, as his family, friends and many fans mourned, from the Los Tres Potrillos ranch where he was laid to rest in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, Jalisco state, Mexico, to Hollywood, Calif., where he has a star on the Walk of Fame.
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As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.