Historia, Música

This day in Chicano history: Juan Gabriel was born

Juan Gabriel (born Alberto Aguilera Valadez)
January 7, 1950

Yes. I know I’m a day late in recognizing Juan Gabriel’s 60th birthday.

But it’s been a busy first week back at school, job 1 and job 2 and it’s going to be a busy quarter overall. Enough excuses, back to Juanga.

Wasn’t he born in Mexico? What does he have to do with Chicanos?

Yes, he was born in Paracuaro, Michoacán. And plenty. Five simple reasons:

  1. Though he was born in Michoacán, we all know he made a name for himself singing in the bars of Ciudad Juárez on the border. In fact, he’s always been somewhat on the border in both the literal and figurative sense. He seamlessly goes from pop to rancheras to disco to ballads. He’s coy about his sexuality, but it’s clear that he presents a different image of the stereotypical Mexican man and entertainer.
  2. He wrote Amor Eterno, the song we all sing when we lay our loved ones to rest.
  3. In 1980, he starred in Del Otro Lado del Puente a film about a young immigrant student trying to pay for school by singing.
  4. He stood up to the man, well BMG, and didn’t record any music from 1986-1994 due to a copyright dispute.
  5. Do you really need a reason? Juanga is one of those sacred Mexican icons, kind of like Vicente Fernández or la Virgen de Guadalupe.

Name your own reason. Why do you love Juanga? What’s your favorite song(s)? What about interpretation of a song written by Juanga?

I started loving Juanga’s music as a little girl. There’s home video of me dancing and singing along to “El Noa Noa” while on a trip to Kern River. My favorite song is “Hasta Que Te Conocí.”

I love Maldita Vecindad’s version of “Lo Pasado, Pasado” (written for José José).


5 thoughts on “This day in Chicano history: Juan Gabriel was born

  1. Asking a Chicano kid why he loves Juanga is kind of like asking why he likes Morrissey, at least to this one.

    In my case, Juanga carries more social and emotional freight with me, with all due respects to the Moz, largely because of how Juan was loved by my mother, aunt, and grandmother alike. And it was their admiration that took them dragging me along to the Million Dollar Theatre, at what was to be my first concert. I was four years old; I’ll never forget it. And as much as I would tell many people in my early adulthood that my first concert was a Nirvana show, for fear that they wouldn’t understand, it was actually Juan Gabriel’s performance that was my first. Even when I was four, I knew it was cool. Too bad I spent so much energy not allowing myself to admit it.

    When I would visit my tia and cousins in Juarez, we would often stop and pay a visit to Juan Gabriel’s house and the Noa Noa before crossing back in to El Paso from a day out in Juarez. Though we would never catch a glimpse of the man, the music kept running through our minds and in the car stereo on our trips back and forth.

    As for my favorite song, I can never get enough of “Yo No Naci Para Amar”. When he sings about loneliness, desperation, and being loveless, well, I have more than a sneaking suspicion that he’s singing his life into that track. And if he didn’t, he sure as hell could perform it.

  2. frank says:

    Juan Gabriel concerts are some of the best I have ever seen he is one hell of a showman. You leave his concerts with a big smile on your face.

    The song “El Noa Noa” doesn’t do it for me.

  3. Claudia says:

    I LOVE so many of his songs and had never thought about which is my fave before but when I was reading this post “no vale la pena” came up in my head

    I hope to one day see him in concert.

  4. My wife and I were just talking about El Divo de Mexico the other day during the Latin Grammys. He took over the end of the broadcast and everyone, including us, was thrilled he did it. When I was a teenager, if you weren’t dancing during Querida at the Quinceañera you were taking a long lonely walk home by yourself. Querida was my intro to learning Spanish and the first Latin song I learned the words to. I can’t even look at Juan Gabriel today without that song popping into my head.

  5. Evangelina says:

    My favorite song by Juan Gabriel is “Se Me Olvido Otravez”. I love this song. I have introduced that song to my daughters, 22, 21 and 13 year olds, they love it. The Best songs never are forgotten.

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