Mention the name Don Francisco to any Latino and it will automatically conjure up a memory of a musical performance by an icon — usually long before they hit the big time and went mainstream.
And forget about being interviewed by the Chilean TV legend — any artist is guaranteed to get emotional while talking about his/her highs and lows, families and other personal stories.
With Don Francisco’s Sabado Gigante variety show airing its last episode Sept. 19 after 53 years on the air, we reflect on some of the best musical moments on the show.
In 1997, Don Francisco surprised Marc Anthony by having his dad — one of his greatest influences — as a guest on the show and the two sang a beautiful ballad called “El Último Beso.” How great is Marc’s dad’s hair?!
In December 1994, the late queen of Tejano stopped by Sabado Gigante to sing “No Me Queda Mas.”
On Jenni Rivera’s first visit to the show in 2001, the regional Mexican icon talked about how her family got started in the music business, selling CDs at the swap meet in Long Beach, Calif., and how her father went on to launch his own record label. Rivera’s older brother, Lupillo, who had been the first musical star in the Rivera family, and her children, sent her loving messages during the show. La Diva de la Banda also talked about getting married at 15 and having a daughter, Chiquis, so young.
To promote the Selena biopic, Jennifer Lopez appeared on Sabado Gigante in 1997 to discuss what it meant to bring that particular story to life and how there was a need for more meaninful Latino stories in Hollywood. The Nuyorican icon (who didn’t perform on the show) has come far with her Spanish since then.
Back when she was a redhead, Shakira came to the show to sing a hit from her 1998 album, Donde Están Los Ladrones?
Before he was singing global club anthems, topping charts, and winning every award in the book, Enrique was a balladeer (complete with an adorable mole), looking to be known as more than just the legendary Julio Iglesias’ son. On the singer’s first visit to the show in 1995, Don Francisco assuaged his noticeable nerves by saying, “we all believe in you.” Enrique then proceeded to make every female in the audience swoon with a performance of “Si Tu Te Vas.” And they’ve never stopped swooning since.
Don Francisco remembered his friend, the queen of salsa, after her death in 2003.
In 1997, Thalia? sang the ranchera-flavored hit “Amor a la Mexicana,” as a nod to her Mexican roots.
Sabado Gigante has had some great musical moments with Latino icons, but there was also the time a certain K-pop sensation and viral-video star visited Don Francisco in 2012 and got the crowd dancing to his mega hit “Gangnam Style.”