HIDALGO, RGV – Fabled singer-songwriter Joan Sebastian has died aged 64.
The multi-Grammy winning artist had battled bone cancer in recent months and had been hospitalized while undergoing treatment. A representative of Universal Music Latin Entertainment-Fonovisa confirmed his death Monday, but did not specify the cause. He died at his ranch in Juliantla, Guerrero, according to the Latin Times.
Born José Manuel Figueroa on April 8, 1951, Sebastian rose from poverty in rural Juliantla, Guerrera, to superstardom. Known as El Rey del Jaripeo and Poeta del Publeo, he penned over 1,000 songs, typically a mix of Mexican pop, ranchera and grupera music. He had been a chart-topper in the Mexican pop charts since the late 1970s, composing hits such as Sembrador de Amor, Y Las Mariposas, Alma De Niña, Gracias Por Tanto Amor, Secreto De Amor, Mas Alla Del Sol, Disename, Juliantla, Tatuajes, Idiota, and El Primer Tonto. He composed the theme tune for the popular Univision telenovela Amores Con Trampa. He won seven Latin Grammy Awards and four Grammy Awards.
Sebastian had eight children with five women, but two of his sons were killed in separate incidents in 2006 and 2010. He made several visits to the Rio Grande Valley throughout his career, most recently appearing with Ramon Ayala in Hidalgo in 2013. Sebastian’s son, Trigo Figueroa, died as his father performed at a bullring near Mission in 2006. Years after that fatal attack, he remained critical of local investigators.
“I was not present at the time of the shooting,” Joan Sebastian said in 2010. “But I had him 50 minutes in my arms dying, suffering and shouting for a policeman, and none appeared. In the United States and in many places, you get flatulence from a fly and the police are there immediately. But when there is something shady, no police, no armies, no ambulances appear. That was how I was left with the frustration of my dead son and the murderer loose in there.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Rio Grande Guardian reporter Raul de la Cruz contributed to this story from Reynosa, Tamaulipas.
Click here to read Billboard’s report.