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Vicente Fernández, Mexico's national treasure, has died

Mexico's ranchera music legend, known for classics like "El Rey" and "Volver, Volver," died the same day Mexicans celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Mexico's musical legend Vicente Fernández has died. The king of ranchera music died in a hospital in Guadalajara in his native state of Jalisco. He was 81.

“Rest in Peace Mr. Vicente Fernández. We regret to inform you of his death on Sunday, December 12 at 6:15 a.m.,” a message on his Instagram account read.

“It was an honor and a great pride to share with everyone a great musical career and to give everything for his audience. Thank you for continuing to applaud, thank you for continuing to sing."

Known as “Chente” to his fans, Fernández was famous for iconic songs about love, longing and the countryside that were familiar to U.S. Hispanics and people across the Spanish-speaking world, including “Volver, Volver,” “El Rey” and “Por Tu Maldito Amor.” He was seen by many as one of the last artists of the ranchera, a song style rooted in rural Mexico. 

In 1998, Fernández received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He won three Grammys and eight Latin Grammys, among other honors. He appeared in more than 30 movies and sold more than 50 million records.

Fernández died the same day Mexico celebrates the feast of the Virgen de Guadalupe, or the Virgin of Guadalupe. For Mexicans and Mexican Americans, Dec. 12 holds special significance. It marks the date in 1531 when the Virgin Mary is purported to have appeared to Juan Diego, an Indigenous Mexican, in the last of several apparitions.

Fernández was such an icon that Telemundo, NBC's Spanish-language network, interrupted its live broadcast of Mexico's Virgin of Guadalupe celebrations to announce his death. The news quickly flooded social media as major Mexican publications reported his passing.

Born on Feb. 17, 1940 in Jalisco, Fernández was raised on his father’s ranch.

He had undergone surgery almost a decade ago for a tumor in his liver, and he had other health complications.

In April 2016, Fernández bid farewell to live performance at a large-scale concert at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, drawing more than 80,000 fans from across the globe. He was hospitalized this year after a fall at his ranch.

Fernández is survived by his wife, Maria del Refugio Abarca Villaseñor, and three children.

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