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José José (1948–2019), Mexico’s “Prince of Song”

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He was beloved for ballads including “El Triste” and “Amar y Querer”

José José was a Mexican singer known as “The Prince of Song” and beloved for romantic ballads including “El Triste” and “Amar y Querer.” An icon in the Latin music world, José first rose to popularity in Latin America in the early 1970s with his debut hit single, “La Nave del Olvido.” His fame grew in the 1980s as he performed duets with other popular singers including Jose Feliciano and Lani Hall. His best selling record was 1983’s “Secretos,” written and produced by Spanish composer Manuel Alejandro. José was influential to many Latin musicians and is a member of Billboard’s Latin Music Hall of Fame. Nominated for nine Grammy Awards, he was honored with the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 and with the Excellence Award by the Lo Nuestro Awards in 2002.

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Died: September 28, 2019 (Who else died on September 28?)

Details of death: Died at a hospital in South Florida of pancreatic cancer at the age of 71.

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Origin of his stage name: Born José Rómulo Sosa Ortiz, José was the son of operatic tenor José Sosa Esquivel. Esquivel abandoned the family when José was a child, then died in 1968, just before José’s musical career took off. In honor of his father, the aspiring musician added a second José to his name. “Since I inherited his voice, this is recognition of that inheritance,” he told the Associated Press in a 2005 interview.

What people said about him: “He wrung out our hearts with his unmistakable voice and left an indelible mark on music for all time… Rest in peace, José José, thank you for the beautiful songs and your musical legacy that will live forever!” —Musician Gloria Estefan

“With his songs and his romanticism, he made many of my generation cry and be happy.” —Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador

Full obituary: New York Times

Related lives:

  • Celso Pina (1953–2019), legendary Mexican accordionist
  • Juan Gabriel (1950–2016), Mexican singer’s hits included “Amor Eterno”
  • Freddy Fender (1937–2006), Tejano rock and roll star