Vicente Fernández, the king of machos and sorrow

The singer Vicente Fernández was “El Ídolo” and “El Rey” – the idol of Mexico and the king of ranchera music. These noble titles reinfo...


The singer Vicente Fernández was “El Ídolo” and “El Rey” – the idol of Mexico and the king of ranchera music. These noble titles reinforced his deep cultural influence, which spanned decades and in countries far beyond Mexico.

Fernandez, died Sunday at 81, has long represented the ideal of the Mexican man, proud of his roots and of himself. His music was often centered around love and loss, but also with a high degree of confidence and attitude. His iconic interpretation of the song “Volver Volver“Propelled him to glory, but it’s in another great success”,Por Tu Maldito AmorThat his agony and his desire are fully visible.

In 2016, Fernández, known as Chente, recorded “Un Azteca en el Azteca”, a live album featuring some of his greatest hits, at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, the largest venue in the country, which in has over 87,000. It was his farewell concert, and it also turned out to be the last before he experienced a series of health problems.

During his performance of “Por Tu Maldito Amor” (“Because of your goddamn love”), the sea of ​​fans sing the chorus to him.

Por tu maldito amor
No terminar puedo con tantas penas
Quisiera reventarme hasta las venas
Por tu maldito amor

It has become a musical standard on any special occasion hosted by someone of Mexican descent – everyone knows the lyrics. The night doesn’t start to end until someone starts pouring tequila, playing this song, and singing a grito in their best Chente voice – opera and soaring with a tinge of melancholy.

Despite the subject matter of his music, it was always tempered by his manly personality – he dressed in full charro regalia, took sips from fan bottles and performed on his horses. Fernández’s mark was this: a muscular, mustached man fighting valiantly for the woman he loves.

And his character was reminiscent of the idols that came before him, Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete, the first Mexican stars of the ranchera who rose to fame in the 1930s with their renditions of love songs. And like them, he transformed his musical career into acting roles. Fernández has appeared in over 30 films with titles like “El Macho” and “Todo Un Hombre”, in which he plays hardened rancheros who romanticize beautiful women.

Certainly, after so many decades of influence, Fernández and his work will continue to be appreciated. His music will continue in the Mexican songbook. But his brand of machismo has frayed – at least for a younger generation less interested in a narrow view of what it means to be a man.

In 2019, Fernández gave an interview with “De Primera Mano”, a Mexican entertainment news program, where he described being diagnosed with cancer in 2012 after doctors discovered a tumor in his liver. He said they suggested he undergo a liver transplant, which he rejected, stating: “I’m not going to sleep next to my wife with another man’s organ, not knowing how. ‘he was gay or drug addict. “

There was a outcry on social networks on homophobic remarks, and even his son, Vicente Fernández Jr., tried to reconsider his father’s interview, claiming that her father’s music was for everyone.

Regardless of Fernández’s views on sexuality – although they seem pretty apparent – Vicente Jr. might be right. After decades in the spotlight, Chente’s music no longer belongs only to him, it belongs to the people. His musical influence extends far beyond Mexico, permeating much of Latin America and United States. Fernández’s popularity has not waned, as evidenced by memorials and the outpouring of condolences on Sunday, ranging from figures like President Biden to that other “king,” country singer George Strait.

Fernández was not the type to shy away from politics. In Mexico, he was a known supporter of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which has long held power in the country. And its influence has spread to American politics. He performed at the 2000 Republican National Convention, where George W. Bush secured the nomination. But more recently, he has backed Democratic candidates in the United States, even writing a corrido for Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential bid.

Although he is emblematic of a dated type of machismo, many people will still choose to listen to his music and sing his songs at karaoke or at a cousin’s wedding. Perhaps another of his memorable songs, “El Rey” explains this dichotomy.

You could say that you never loved me
But you will be very sad
And that’s why you’ll have to stay

With money and without money
i always do what i want
And my word is the law

I don’t have a throne or a queen
No one who understands me
But I’m still the king

You probably don’t remember the first time you heard one of his songs because they were always part of the soundscape, imprinted in your mind. His music is steeped in the fabric of Latin American culture, much like the rest of Latin America.



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