Famed Mexican singer Vicente “Chente” Fernandez, 81, died on Sunday after nearly five months of being hospitalized.
The three-time Grammy award winner was a cultural icon, singing ballads that became staples of Mexican music through the years of his career that spanned nearly five decades, when his rendition of Fernando Maldonado’s “Volver, Volver” became his first hit in 1976- a song that Fernandez once said the world would sing in his passing.
Chente’s son, Alejandro Fernandez, honored his father’s wishes, leading a chorus of thousands of tightly-packed fans at VFG Arena in Guadalajara, Mexico, where a memorial to Fernandez was held on Monday.
“The lights in heaven have never shined brighter,” Alejandro Fernandez wrote in Spanish on Instagram. “Without a doubt, I couldn’t have asked for a better father, friend and teacher. Thank you for showing me the way and while I’ll miss you daily, your spirit and voice will forever live through your family , your hometown and your people.”
U.S. President Joe Biden sent his condolences to the Fernandez family, saying his music “created memories for millions,” and will be “remembered for generations to come.”
In Los Angeles, hundreds gathered at several city landmarks, including Fernandez’s star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was covered with flowers and candles.
“Vicente Fernandez was more than an incredible singer who filled arenas for more than a half-century,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted on Sunday. “He was a cultural force whose voice carried ranchera music to every corner of the world. We mourn his passing with all who cherished Vicente — a beloved entertainer & legend.”
As fans gathered at the star Sunday night, multiple gun shots were heard near the vigil around 6:30 p.m., leading LAPD to swarm the area, set up officers on rooftops and evacuate fans.
LAPD arrested a suspect on the fourth floor of a nearby building, with a gun found inside the apartment.
The suspect was later identified as Joseph Dietrich, 35, and as of this writing, it is not yet clear if the shots were directed at the vigil.
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In early August, the family revealed that Fernandez had been hospitalized, being in grave, but stable condition after suffering a fall at his ranch in Mexico. In November, the Fernandez family said he was progressing in his rehabilitation and becoming less reliant on the ventilator. Days later, Fernandez took a turn for the worst, suffering multiple complications from Guillain–Barré syndrome.
By Saturday, Fernandez suffered critical inflammation in his lungs, before his eventual death on Sunday.
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