Mexican singer and saxophonist Rodolfo “Fito” Olivares has died. He was 75 years old.
Olivares passed away at his home in Houston on Friday (March 17), according to his wife, Griselda Olivares, The Associated Press reports. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2022.
Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico in 1947, Olivares spent the last 50 years as a musician making back-to-back hits that soundtracked households from weddings to quinceañeras and multigenerational households in Latin America and the U.S.
He was best known for his saxophone-powered cumbia anthems such as “Juana La Cubana,” “El Colesterol,” “Aguita de Melón,” “Cumbia de la Cobra” and “La Gallina.” Olivares got his start in music as a teenager playing with and writing music for groups such as Duet Estrella, Tam and Tex. He later formed his own band called Fito Olivares y su Grupo La Pura Sabrosura in Houston in 1980.
With his band, he scored 10 entries on Billboard‘s Hot Latin Songs chart, including one top 10. “El Colesterol” peaked at No. 4 on the tally (dated Dec. 24, 1994). Fito Olivares y su Grupo also entered seven titles in the Top Latin Albums chart.
Mexican norteño singer Ramón Ayala took to social media to honor Olivares with a heartfelt post.
“It is with great lament that I am finding out about your passing, my dear colleague, but more than anything my friend The King of Cumbia. Thank you for your music, your dedication and professionalism onstage. La Pura Sabrosura as your unique rhythm with your saxophone, with which you’re now serenading God. From king to king, rest in peace my brother. Light to your soul and your eternal rest.”
In the comments, fans reacted to the news with comments such as “only good memories thanks to his music” and “childhood memories, in all parties and in all homes we’d listen to cumbia by Fito Olivares.”
See Ayala’s tribute below.