Thousands mourn ‘King of Rancheras’

December 14, 2021
Vicente Fernandez performs at the 20th Latin Grammy Awards on Nov. 14, 2019, in Las Vegas. The Mexican singer died early Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, relatives reported. He was 81 years old.


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TLAJOMULCO DE ZÚÑIGA, Jalisco — Vicente Fernández’s mass and memorial services, which took place between Sunday and Monday afternoon, were filled with heartfelt tributes to the iconic Mexican charro who gifted hundreds of ranchera melodies to the world.

Both events were filled with his music,and all those present, while heartbroken, couldn’t help but sing along.

The legendary Mexican singer died on Sunday at the age of 81, four months after being hospitalized and diagnosed with Guillen-Barré syndrome.

Just as the sun was setting and to the tune of “El Rey,” the song that gave Chente the moniker “King of Rancheras,” the coffin that contained his remains arrived at the VFG Arena in Jalisco, which throughout Sunday night and early Monday morning served as a chapel for his fans to visit — the Fernández family’s way of allowing them to say a final goodbye.

More:Legendary Mexican ranchera singer Vicente Fernández dies at 81 after recent hospitalization

Background:Mexican singer Vicente Fernández in ‘serious but stable’ condition after suffering a fall

His family and closest friends, accompanied by thousands of fans, paid their respects in the arena, located nearby Chente’s Los Tres Potrillos estate in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, Jalisco, where Fernández was buried Monday.

It was 6 p.m. when Fernández’s coffin arrived at the arena, set at center stage for all to pay their respects. Since that hour, Cuquita Abarca, Fernández’s wife, didn’t leave his side until Monday, when the final prayer was offered and the last note was sung after mass was held in the arena.

Following the service, Fernández’s family proceeded to the ground of the Los Tres Potrillos rancho to lay Chente’s remains to rest.

“Blessed God, he is already resting. … I had the opportunity to be with him at all times. We all had it, it was difficult, but also very beautiful, very enriching,” Alejandra Fernández said to La Voz before the service. She is not Chente’s biological daughter, rather his niece, but both Chente and Abarca loved her as though she was the youngest of their children.

According to Alejandra Fernández, her father’s remains would be laid to rest on the grounds of Los Tres Potrillos — that was his last wish, she said.

“There’s an area in the garden (of the estate); that’s where he’ll rest,” she said.

Fernández’s death coincided with the Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a highly regarded Catholic feast day that celebrates who many Mexicans consider their holy mother. Her presence was not missed, as a Virgen de Guadalupe figurine watched over Chente’s coffin while at the arena.

Gerardo, Alejandro and Vicente Jr., Chente’s three sons and the reason why he named his estate Los Tres Potrillos, stood the first guard at their father’s coffin on Sunday. For all who were present, this was an emotional sight to see, as the image of the “Charro de Huentitán” became visible on a back screen.

Then Cuquita Abarca, Chente’s wife, made her way to the center of the stage, gave her husband’s coffin a kiss and laid her head to rest atop it. Alejandro, Fernández’s most musical of sons, then accompanied his mother and serenaded her with “Amor de Los Dos,” symbolizing the love his parents had for each other.

Honoring a request he made of his fans in 2014 during a concert with his son Alejandro, Mariachi Azteca began to play “Volver, Volver,” just as Pepé Aguilar, another great interpreter of rancheras, and his family stood guard by the coffin.

“I think the day that they bury me, everyone around the world will be singing this song, whether they watch on TV or in person,” he said in 2014, adding “I hope that happens years from now.”

On Sunday, his fans gave him that.

Throughout the memorial service, videos of Fernández’s most iconic performances filled the back screen. And as his voice rang throughout the arena, his fans followed, singing alongside Chente.

And when a video wasn’t being streamed, Mariachi Azteca and Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán interpreted songs like “El Rey,” “México Lindo y Querido” and “Acá Entre Nos” — some of his most famous songs that represented his love and dedication to his family, fans and country.

Hours after his passing, media speculated that a memorial would be held at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, where tributes of many great Mexican and Latin American artists have taken place over the years. 

His family, however, told the press that all memorial and funeral services would be held near and in his home, adding that Fernández had not wanted to be carted around from place to place after his death.

Fernández is survived by his wife, Cuquita Abarca; his four children, Vicente Jr., Gerardo, Alejandro and Alejandra (his niece, whom he always considered his daughter); nine grandchildren (four children of Vicente Jr. and five of Alejandro) and four great-grandchildren.

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