Border Fans Mourn Loss Of Mexican Superstar Juan Gabriel

By Mónica Ortiz Uribe
August 28, 2016
Mónica Ortiz Uribe
A sign outside the Don Haskins Center in El Paso where Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel was scheduled to perform Sunday.
Mónica Ortiz Uribe
Heartbroken fans gathered outside the Don Haskins center in El Paso to mourn the death of Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel.

Hours after news broke of the death of Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel tearful fans gathered outside the concert venue in El Paso where the singer was set to perform that night. Gabriel died from natural causes Sunday at his home in California.

His admirers held red roses and sang a karaoke version of Amor Eterno, a ballad by Gabriel that's often played at Mexican funerals.

"We're gonna miss him a lot," said Lourdes Labrado, a janitor who came to pay her respects. "No one will ever replace him. Never."

Across the border in his adopted hometown of Juárez, dozens more fans crowded outside Gabriel's mansion near downtown and sang his songs as a young guitarist strummed the melodies.

The Associated Press reports Gabriel was one of 10 children raised by a single mother who worked as a maid. His mother later sent Gabriel to an orphanage when she was no longer able to care for him.

As a boy, Gabriel would hop on city buses in Juárez and sing and play his guitar for the passengers.

He later opened a music school for disadvantaged youth in Juárez.

Gabriel became one of Latin America's top selling artists with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. According to Billboard, he had 31 albums on the Top Latin Albums chart during his 45 year career. He was inducted into the Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1996.

"He is regarded as one of the best writers/composers/singers to this day," said El Pasoan Margaret Abraham, a close personal friend of Gabriel. "He wanted to be himself. He gave himself to the people, that's the type of person he was." 

The 66-year-old artist gave his last concert on Friday in Los Angeles.