WE weep for Juan Gabriel, a superstar Mexican songwriter and singer who was an icon for millions of LGBT people in the Latin music world.
He dropped dead Sunday at his home in California only hours after performing a standing-room-only crowd. He performed for two hours at the Los Angeles Forum on Friday, clad in one of his typical brightly colored outfits. In its review of the concert, Billboard called him "the ultimate showman." He was 66.
Juan Gabriel was Mexico's leading singer-songwriter and top-selling artist.
His ballads about love and heartbreak and bouncy mariachi tunes became hymns throughout Latin America and Spain and with Spanish speakers in the United States.
He brought many adoring fans to tears as they sang along when he crooned his songs about love and heartbreak, including his top hits, "Hasta Que Te Conoci" ("Until I Met You") and "Amor Eterno" ("Eternal Love").
His hit "Querida" ("Dear") topped Mexico's charts for a whole year.
The adjectives "flamboyant" and "eccentric" followed him all his career, and he was imitated by drag queens in gay clubs throughout Mexico.
He skirted rumors of gayness his whole life.
He liked to wear jackets covered in sequins or dress in shiny silk outfits in hot pink, turquoise blue or canary yellow, and he was known for tossing his head before dancing or jumping around the stage.
He was once famously asked by a television interviewer: "People look at you and say you are homosexual. What do you say?" His answer became part of his enduring myth.
"Lo que se ve no se pregunta," he answered … "Don't ask about something that is obvious."
Then Juan asked the interview what he saw when he looked at him.
The journalist said: "I see a singer before me, I see a winner" and Juan Gabriel replied: "That is the most important thing, because it is what you do that counts in life."
Juan started out as a waif ... having been sent to an orphanage after his father went insane with grief over the loss of Juan's mother and burned down their village and had to be carried off in a straitjacket.
Little Juan fled abuse at the orphanage by hiding in a rubbish bin and being transported to freedom in a garbage truck.
Arriving in Juarez, he sang for tips and tricks in seedy clubs, where he caught the eye of a "talent scout" ... and the rest is showbiz history.
In 2015 artist Arturo Damasco painted a 40-square-meter mural of Juan Gabriel on a building in Juarez.
Juan Gabriel never married. According to The Associated Press, a former secretary of his, Joaquín Muñoz, claimed that the two men had a sexual relationship in a tell-all book, "Juan Gabriel and I."
It confirmed what most fans already believed, but his fans were surprised when years later it became known that he had fathered four children with a friend, Laura Salas.
Juan Gabriel performed to packed auditoriums, including New York's Madison Square Garden and the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles.
His last concert was Friday night at the Forum in Inglewood, California. He was scheduled to perform Sunday in El Paso, Texas.
A six-time Grammy nominee, Juan Gabriel was inducted into the Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1996 and received countless industry awards.
He also garnered ASCAP Songwriter of the Year in 1995, Latin Recording Academy's Person of the Year 2009, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that same year.
The singer, who was born 7 January 1950, wrote his first song at age 13 and went on to compose more than 1,500 songs. He died 28 August 2016 at age 66 … a homeless orphan who came to be loved by millions.