Mexican singer-songwriter Armando Manzanero died Monday at the age of 86 after being hospitalized with the coronavirus, sparking an outpouring of tributes for one of the country's best-loved musicians.
The composer and crooner of romantic Latin ballads, who became the first Mexican to receive a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2014, suffered a cardiac arrest, his publicist told AFP.
Manzanero's songs, which include "Adoro" (I Adore) and "Voy a apagar la luz" (I'm Going to Turn Off the Lights), are known across Latin America.
His lyrics, some of them translated into English, have also been sung by international stars including Frank Sinatra, Christina Aguilera, Andrea Bocelli and Elvis Presley.
The artist was admitted to hospital on December 17 and later intubated, although news from his entourage over the weekend that his health was improving had sparked hope that he would beat the virus.
A visibly moved President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador cut short his daily news conference on Monday after showing a video of Manzanero performing "Adoro."
He hailed the musician as "a great composer, one of the best in the country."
The Latin Recording Academy, which also presented Manzanero with a lifetime achievement award in 2010, described his death as an "irreparable loss for the world of Latin music."
Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz said the Mexican maestro had "taught us to adore in the most beautiful way."
Due to the coronavirus pandemic that has hit Mexico particularly hard, no tributes were due to be held, so the Society of Authors and Composers, which Manzanero had presided over since 2010, asked that people sing from their balconies and windows at nightfall the song "This afternoon I saw it rain."
In different parts of Mexico City, that song and other melodies made famous by the late composer rang out at dusk.
"His songs reached to the bottom of our hearts, all of them, there is not one that does not reach the depths," Leticia Martínez, a 63-year-old housewife, told AFP.
- 'Noble soul' -
Argentine singer-songwriter Fito Paez said Manzanero "was above all an example for future artists to follow. A noble soul and a beautiful person."
Manzanero was born in Merida in the southeastern state of Yucatan on December 7, 1934, although his birth was only registered a year later.
He recorded around 30 albums and some 400 songs over a career spanning six decades.
Music was in his blood -- his father was also a singer, although Manzanero credited his grandmother for his romanticism.
The songwriter was honored in person by the Yucatan authorities this month with the opening of a museum dedicated to his life and work.
"Gratitude is the memory of the heart, and music is the best memory you can carry in your pocket," said Manzanero, who developed a cough after his return to the capital.
The songwriter, who was proud of his indigenous Mayan roots and known for his elegant suits, married five times and had seven children.
Mexico has registered more than 122,000 coronavirus deaths -- the world's fourth-highest toll after the United States, Brazil and India.
News that one of the country's iconic musicians had joined the victims triggered shock and sorrow on the streets of the capital.
"Of course, as Mexicans we will always remember him, and when we are somewhere and we have the opportunity to listen to his music, we will do so remembering the great Manzanero," said Mexico City resident Jose Luis Ramirez.
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