Legendary mariachi singer and actor Antonio Aguilar, known as "El Charro de Mexico," passed away last night (June 19) following a long illness. He was 88.

Legendary mariachi singer and actor Antonio Aguilar, known as "El Charro de Mexico," passed away last night (June 19) following a long illness. He was 88.

Aquilar, whose full name was Pascual Antonio Aguilar Barraza, was known for his powerful voice and his flair for performance. Aguilar popularized "charrería," the spectacle that mixes music with horseback showmanship. As "El Charro de Mexico," he toured the world with his wife, Flor Silvestre, and his sons, Antonio Jr., and Pepe Aguilar, both renowned artists themselves.

"Antonio opened the doors of the United States and Latin America for us," said his longtime friend Vicente Fernandez, who along with Aguilar, is among the most famous performers in popular Mexican music.

Aguilar began his career in 1950 and eventually recorded more than 150 albums, which sold more than 25 million copies. Much of his repertoire consisted of "Corridos," the sung stories so beloved in Mexican music. He turned several "corridos," into classics, including "Gabino Barrera," "Caballo Prieto Azabache" and "Albur de Amor."

In 1952's "Un Rincon Cerca del Cielo," Aguilar made his film debut alongside Pedro Infante. Over the course of the next half-century, his on-screen repertoire would stretch to 150 films, including "The Defeated" with John Wayne.

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