Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel, 66, died of natural causes in Santa Monica, California, Sunday morning hours before he was scheduled to perform in El Paso, Texas. The Latin American music icon who sold more than 100 million records was on a U.S. tour scheduled through December.
He gave his final performance Friday night during his MeXXIco Es Todo Tour at The Forum in Los Angeles. Gabriel, whose legal name was Alberto Aguilera Valadez, was inducted into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1996. He grew up in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, and was known as El Divo de Juarez, CNN reported.
"He has passed on to become part of eternity and has left us his legacy through Juan Gabriel, the character created by him for all the music that has been sung and performed all around the world," his media office said in a statement, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said in a tweet: "We lament the death of Juan Gabriel, one of the biggest musical icons of our country. My condolences to his family and friends." He added, "A voice and a talent that represented Mexico. His music is a legacy to the world. He left us too soon. May he rest in peace."
His career spanned nearly five decades and 60 albums. His soulful ballads and romantic rancheras included "Querida," "Porqué me haces llorar?" "El Noa Noa" and "Hasta que te conocí." He shined on stage with colorful costumes including jackets covered in sequins or hot pink silk.
"There are no rules when I compose songs," he said, according to a biography published by Mexico's Society of Music Authors and Composers. "There are times when I'm really happy and I write something really sad, and vice versa."
He wrote his hit "Eternal Love," about his mother, who died in 1974. She had worked as a maid and eventually sent him to an orphanage when she could no longer care for him.
"Even though I don't have my mother's love today, I have the love of millions," he told the newspaper La Jornada in an interview in 2012. "Her love comes through all the mothers of Mexico."
His former personal secretary, Joaquin Munoz, claimed they were a gay couple at one point in the book "Juan Gabriel and I." Media reports later showed Gabriel had fathered four children with his friend, Laura Salas.
"I'm not married; I don't ever plan to marry. I'm happy single," Juan Gabriel is quoted as saying in his biography. "I have many loves but the most important are: my mother, my children, my sister, my brothers, my nieces and nephews and my songs."
His final show was a tribute to his homeland. "Accompanied by a full mariachi band, an orchestra and a troupe of 20-plus dancers, the Mexican crooner serenaded his fans at The Forum for two hours straight. The high energy show kicked off in full force with a patriotic performance that screamed Mexican pride with follkloricos and breathtaking images of Mexico playing on the screens," Billboard wrote.
Below are song lyrics to remember the famous singer who touched fans across the United States and Latin America:
1. "I won't completely fall in love again, because it is so deceptive, it has left me a bad taste," - "No Me Vuelvo a Enamorar"
2. "Why don’t you understand me (when I say) that you and I don’t, don’t, don’t have anything now to say to each other, except goodbye?" - "Dejame Vivir"
3. "You are the love of which I have the more sad reminder of Acapulco," - "Amor Eterno"
4. "If you want, I would stay with you all my life until I die," - "Si Quieres"
5. "No tengo dinero, ni nada que dar, no tengo dinero, solo amor para amar," - "No Tengo Dinero"