A mass for Vicente Fernández was televised Monday (Dec. 13) live from his Los 3 Potrillos ranch in Guadalajara featuring a beautiful tribute by his family and longtime mariachi, as well as fans chanting his songs and bidding their final goodbyes.
While colleagues and family members gathered in person to honor the life of “El Rey de la Ranchera,” others, including key industry figures, who weren’t in attendance shared what it was like working closely with Fernández and about the significance of his legacy. In an official statement given to Billboard, Pepe Garza, programming director at L.A.’s Que Buena 105.5/94.3 FM station and founder of Premios de la Radio, said: “Whenever you listen to a Vicente Fernández song, it’s going back to that time when you were happy. That, to me, is the most important thing about his repertoire and what he represented.”
The latest edition of Premios de la Radio in November featured a grand tribute to Fernández with special performances by Grupo Firme, Natalia Jiménez and Leonardo Aguilar. The vibrant set featured a medley of some of his most iconic songs such as “Por Tu Maldito Amor,” “Hermoso Cariño,” Volver Volver” and “El Rey.”
Fernández, who has blessed Latino households for generations with hits such as “La Ley del Monte,” “Mujeres Divinas” and “Amor de Los Dos” died at the age of 81 at a hospital in Guadalajara on Sunday morning due to complications following surgery for a cervical spine injury after a serious fall last August.
On the Billboard charts, “Chente” — how he was known to fans — holds the record for the most entries on Hot Latin Songs for a regional Mexican solo act, with 61 songs. He also holds the record for the most No. 1s for a regional Mexican solo act on the Regional Mexican Albums chart, with a total of 17, and the record for the most top 10s on Regional Mexican Albums, with a total of 49.
Mexican songwriter Martín Urieta — also president of the consejo directivo at Sociedad de Autores y Compositores de México — who wrote more than 20 songs for Fernández, including the ranchera anthem “Acá Entre Nos,” posted a heartfelt tribute to remember his colleague and friend.
“Friends, we are dismayed about the passing of our adored Vicente Fernández,” Urieta said in a video. “The last giant of ranchera interpreters. As of now, he is now part of the angelical chorus that sings to God.”
Below, see how Garza, Huppe and other industry leaders remember Fernández:
“It has been a true honor to work with you all these years. Thank you for everything, my beloved Chente! We will continue to enjoy your divine art, but we’re already missing you. Sending a big hug to your beautiful family that we love so much. Rest in peace.” — Afo Verde, chairman and CEO for Sony Music Latin Iberia
“With heavy hearts, we bid adiós to Regional Mexican legend and cultural icon Vicente ‘Chente’ Fernández. For more than 60 years, the singer, producer and actor brought the musical traditions of his beloved country to audiences worldwide through his amazing performances and his gifted voice, which featured impressive operatic power and range. Known as ‘El Rey de la Música Ranchera,’ Fernández, whose discography comprises more than 100 albums, won multiple Latin GRAMMYs and GRAMMYs throughout his career. In 2002, he was recognized as the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year. A man of hard work, Fernández was true to his word. Even after formally retiring in 2016, he continued performing and making music. In a 2002 interview with The Latin Recording Academy, when asked if he would ever retire, he proudly declared that ‘as long as my physical voice and faculties are intact, I’ll be there.’ And so, in 2019, he took the stage at the 20th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards for an unforgettable first-time-ever performance with his son, Alejandro Fernández, and grandson, Alex Fernández. Making music to the very end, he released what would be his final album, ‘A Mis 80’s,’ which just won a Latin GRAMMY under the category Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album and is currently nominated for the 64th GRAMMY Awards under the category of Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano). At The Latin Recording Academy and the Recording Academy, we celebrate the life and career of Don Vicente Fernández and pay homage to his legacy. We offer our gratitude for his vast contributions to Latin music and our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fans.” — Manuel Abud, CEO The Latin Recording Academy and Harvey Mason jr. CEO, Recording Academy
“The last giant of ranchera interpreters. As of now, he is now part of the angelical chorus that sings to God. Rest in peace and our condolences to all his family.” — Martín Urueta, Mexican songwriter & consejo directivo at Sociedad de Autores y Compositores de México (SACM).
Así despide el maestro Martín Urieta, presidente del Consejo Directivo de la SACM, a Vicente Fernández, “último gigante de los intérpretes de la canción ranchera”. Descanse en Paz 🕊 pic.twitter.com/pEZSawufT1
— SACM México (@SACM_Oficial) December 12, 2021
“Our Mexican brothers and his followers around the world mourn his goodbye. It is a very deep loss for the entertainment world, as he is an idol and icon of Mexican ranchera music. At times like this, we make a call for artists who have been in the industry for years or who are about to start, remember his legacy to keep alive and give future to traditional genres and topics like his,” — Mauricio Mendoza, Head of Content and Industry Relations, Deezer
“The hearts of the music industry are heavy today with the passing of a true icon, legendary performer and recording artist Vicente Fernández. He was a force for joy, inviting the world into the rich history of traditional Mexican sounds. His commanding presence helped broaden a genre of music that will thrive for generations to come.” — Michael Huppe, president & CEO, SoundExchange
“Vicente Fernández has a significant importance for the pueblo, for the people of Mexico and even for many others throughout Latin America. Mexicans have a very recent past or fond memories of life on a ranch. Our grandparents or great grandparents lived in rural communities and Vicente’s music transports us to those moments, those memories, to our parents and grandparents, and that’s the most important thing we have, especially if you’re a Mexican living in the United States. Whenever you listen to a Vicente Fernández song, it’s going back to that time when you were happy. That, to me, is the most important thing about his repertoire and what he represented. As a musician, as a singer and someone who had great success with all his albums, he had the virtue of having a great team that was there to suggest a catalog of songs that is very valuable. Songs that will forever live in our hearts.” — Pepe Garza, programming director at L.A.’s Que Buena 105.5/94.3 FM station and founder of Premios de la Radio
“His immense voice will always have the key to Mexico’s spirit. The radiant ‘Charro de Huentitán will shine in our hearts. Rest in peace. We’ll miss you. Sending a hug hug to his family, friends and his fans. We will never stop applauding.” — Roberto Cantoral Z., general director at Sociedad de Autores y Compositores de México (SACM).
“Don Vicente Fernández, the greatest among greats. You left us and we’ll remember you forever with great fondness and admiration. Thank you for becoming the great artist that would sing in Mexico and around the world as no one had done before. You loved your country and your fans like no one else had. A great friend, companion, and colleague of other artists. You are a legend that was able to have a goodbye concert where you always wanted, at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, that was free so all your pueblo could be with you one last time. You were always grateful, giving your all to your fans and you corresponded with them with the same support they always gave you throughout your career. Querido Vicente, we will remember you forever with lots of love, admiration, and respect. Thank you for so much, my beloved Chente.” — Roberto Lopez, president of Sony Mexico