Mexican pop music fans were devastated last August when one of the country's most beloved singers, Juan Gabriel, died at age 66. But on Saturday, Feb. 18, fans in Toluca, Mexico, will get a chance to see El Divo de Juarez in action once again — courtesy of Hologram USA, the same company that resurrected Tupac Shakur in hologram form at Coachella in 2012.
The Juan Gabriel hologram — which, if you want to get all technical, isn't really a hologram — will appear as part of a tribute concert called "Juan Gabriel, Eternally" at the Foro Pegaso in Toluca, a suburb of Mexico City. Also on the bill will be such totally non-holographic performers as Andrea Bocelli, Juanes, John Fogerty, Jesse & Joy, Yuri, Pepe Aguilar, Kinky and Natalia Lafourcade, as well as a full orchestra.
Hologram USA is part of FOTV Media Group, a digital media company run by eccentric Greek entrepreneur Alki David. In addition to holograms, David has a long-standing interest in hip-hop and battle rap. Usually, Hologram USA's technology is used to bring dead stars back to life — besides Gabriel and 2Pac, it has "resurrected" Jenni Rivera and Michael Jackson — but in 2015, David arranged to have a Chief Keef performance remotely projected into a hip-hop concert in Hammond, Indiana. Unfortunately, in what was surely a first, authorities shut down the hologram and broke up the concert.
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According to a press release, FOTV Media Group plans to launch a chain of "dedicated hologram theaters" later this year, and is developing hologram-based shows featuring Whitney Houston, Buddy Holly and Billie Holiday, among others.
Over the course of a career that spanned five decades, Juan Gabriel sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the most successful recording artists in all of Latin America. He was best-known for such dramatic, emotional ballads as "Amor Eterno," "Querida" and "Hasta Que Te Conocí," as well as a flamboyant performance style that, though he never answered questions about his sexual orientation, made him an icon among LGBTQ Latinos. The Juan Gabriel hologram is set to perform three songs as part of the tribute concert.
Gustavo Farías, one of the concert's producers, told Billboard that there is already discussion with Gabriel's family about taking the hologram out on tour after this debut performance. "I hope this isn't the only time we see the hologram," he said. "This type of technology is one you have to see it live to appreciate it."
“Juan Gabriel means so much to his fans,” Alki David said via press release. “To be able to pay homage to him despite losing him so tragically is one of the great gifts of Hologram USA’s technology."