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Vicente 'Chente' Fernández, 'El Rey' of ranchera music, has died at 81

Vicente Fernández performs onstage during the 20th annual Latin Grammy Awards in 2019.
Kevin Winter
/
Getty Images for LARAS
Vicente Fernández performs onstage during the 20th annual Latin Grammy Awards in 2019.

Updated December 12, 2021 at 11:03 AM ET

Mexican superstar Vicente Fernandez has died at the age of 81, his official social media accounts have confirmed. The singer had been in critical condition recently after being hospitalized due to a fall at his Guadalajara in August. In the hospital, he was diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome, an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the body's nerves, his family had reported to media.

Among the singer's many nicknames, he was known as "the idol of Mexico" and "the king of Ranchera," making him one of the country's most important cultural icons.

In "Volver, Volver," the 1972 song that skyrocketed his career, Fernandez sang about his unbearable longing to return to an ex-lover's arms. That song became an anthem. And Fernandez became Mexico's biggest star — adored for his velvet voice and his devotion to songs about rural tradition — about courtship and honor, cockfights and rodeos, passion and heartbreak.

Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador shared his condolences Sunday morning on Twitter, calling Fernandez a "symbol of ranchera of our time."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Adrian Florido
Adrian Florido is a national correspondent for NPR covering race and identity in America.