The Story of El Rey de la Ranchera
|Name:||Vicente Fernández Gómez.|
|Birth date:||February 17, 1940.|
|Birthplace:||Huentitán El Alto, Jalisco, Mexico.|
|Breakthrough:||Became the International Comedy Grand Champion of “Buscando Estrellas”, the Latino version of Star Search.|
Growing up in South America I remember going out with my friends to a disco. In the middle of the night, yes, by 12 midnight they used to stop the music and play rancheras or carrileras, in general, Mexican music. This was the time to take a rest from the normal music and enjoy some tequila shots!
Knowing or reading a Vicente Fernandez biography was common. If you’ve never heard of Vicente Fernandez or read his biography, you are missing out on a living legend.
“Chente,” as we affectionately call him, established himself as an icon of Mexican ranchera music in the 1960s, and has been wowing legions of fans ever since.
A former film star as well as a singer, Chente embodies the proud image of the Mexican charro or cowboy, but his operatic voice and tender singing soften the machismo of his image, making Chente an ideal ambassador of Mexico’s musical heritage.
Many little boys dream of becoming movie stars. Little Vicente Fernandez actually made his dream come true. Even as a young boy growing up on a ranch near the sleepy village of Huentitan El Alto, Jalisco, Mexico, young Chente dreamed of growing up to be just like the charros he saw in Mexican movies.
He got his first guitar when he was just 8 years old, and quickly learned to strum out accompaniment for his renditions of the ranchera songs he heard on the radio.
Chente got his first taste of success at age 14, when he won a singing contest at a local festival. But he struggled for years after this, singing in restaurants and on street corners as he tried to make a career out of music.
Chente’s breakthrough came in 1966, when he finally got a record contract and released his very first recording.
He soon broke into acting as well, first appearing on film in 1971. After that, the rest was history. Vicente Fernandez went on to record 51 gold, platinum, or multi-platinum albums and to star in or provide music for over 40 films.
During his career, he earned the adoration of millions of fans, who dubbed him “El Charro de Huentitán,” “El Idolo de México” and “El Rey de la Canción Ranchera.”
His renditions of famous ranchera classics like “Las Mañanitas,” as well as of original compositions by famous Mexican songwriters, earned him just about every award you can think of.
He won Billboard awards 5 years in row in the early 90s, was named Person of the Year by the Latin Recording Academy in 2002, and won a Grammy in 2010. He even has his own stars in the Hollywood walk of fame and the Paseo de las Luminarias in Mexico City.
Vicente Fernandez Concerts
When you ask people what they love most about Vicente Fernandez, they will usually say his concerts. They share that Vicente Fernandez performed with refreshingly old-fashioned showmanship, seeking to please his audience with his sincerity and with his talent, rather than with special effects or theatrics.
He always wore a charro, which is the traditional embroidered suit and matching sombrero for ranchera performers. He wore this outfit with great pride, but also with humility because he knew it made him like an ambassador of Mexican culture.
Chente’s humility is also apparent in the respect he gave to his fans. At every concert, he promised to sing until people got tired of hearing him! Of course that would never really happen, but in reality his concerts often went on for hours and hours, with everyone in the audience singing along and having a great time enjoying traditional Mexican ranchera music.
Even at the most difficult times in his life, this supremely talented singer put his fans first. When his father died in 1970, Chente found out just minutes before going on stage. Yet he did not cancel the show, because he didn’t want to disappoint all the fans who looked forward to hearing him sing. Vicente also played on through a difficult period in 1998 when his son was kidnapped and held for ransom for four months.
Even after learning that he had liver cancer, Vicente Fernandez still maintained a “show must go on” attitude. In between surgeries and treatments, he scheduled his farewell tour and sang to millions of loving fans who were no doubt sad to see their idol hang up his sombrero, but happy to share one last epic concert with the undisputed “rey de la canción ranchera.”
Chente has promised to continue recording. He actually has many songs recorded already that have not yet been released. In any case, it’s clear that this powerhouse of Mexican ranchera music will continue adding to his Vicente Fernandez biography even during “retirement.” Keep an eye out for his latest songs!