21 Facts About “El Rey” Chente Fernandez That Will Make You Love Him Even More
After dead legends like Pedro Infante and José Alfredo Jiménez, Vicente Fernández rules supreme in the ranchera music. He has retired from the stage but will continue working in the music industry. His powerful voice and imposing screen and stage presence have made him an icon of Mexican masculinity and Latino identity not only in his native Mexico but also in the rest of Latin America and Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. In his official website, we can read the following regarding his legacy: “As a pioneer, Vicente Fernández is to Mexican music what Hank Williams is to country music, B.B. King is to blues and Woody Guthrie is to folk.” We couldn’t agree more! He is also an advocate for Latino rights and even breaks bread with political personalities such as former presidential candidate Hilary Clinton.
Here are some facts you have to know about this mariachi king, who retired in 2013 but will always live in us through his numerous recordings and the countless memories he left for those who were lucky enough to see him live.
All Hail Chente!
1. He was born in 1940 in Huentitan El Alto, near Guadalajara in Jalisco
His father Ramón owned a ranch outside of Guadalajara and young Vicente spent his childhood in a rural environment. He fell in love with nature and with horses, one of this greatest passions. His love for the land is evident in his heartfelt lyrics. In his raspy but educated voice, we can almost taste the tequila, tortillas, and herbs, and feel the harsh Jalisco sun on our face.
2. He is a Chivas Rayadas del Guadalajara fan
As a good tapatío, Chente roots for Las Chivas Rayadas del Guadalajara, one of the biggest soccer teams in Mexico. The rivalry that this team has with the Aguilas del América is legendary.
3. He just adores horses
Chente often shares photos of his equine friends on Instagram. He owns all sorts of breeds and chooses them personally.
4. He is a proud great-grandfather
In his core, Chente is far from the macho image that he has built throughout his music and film career. He is now a great-grandfather and a proud one. Just look at this candid moment: melts our corazones in the best possible way. He has four children, including the famous Potrillo, Alejandro.
5. He wanted to be like Pedro Infante
But of course. When he was just ab 8-year-old he told his mamacita chula that he wanted to be like Infante, to appear and movies and sing mariachi music. He certainly fulfilled his dream. He began playing guitar when he was only eight.
6. He built his early career by winning singing contests
Young Chente entered music contests in nearby towns…. and the rest is history. Sort of sounds like the plot from our beloved movie Coco, doesn’t it?
7. He has been with the same label throughout his whole career
He is a loyal man: he released his first recording, “Perdóname”, with Discos CBS in 1966. The label is now Sony Music Latin and he keeps working with them. Lealtad ante todo!
8. His son Alejandro is a music legend in his own right
Even if his career has not been short of dreadful alcohol-infused scandals, Alejandro, better known as El Potrillo, is a proud carrier of his father’s name and has built an impressive music career of his own, making mariachi music mainstream in the much coveted Mexico City market.
9. He recorded over 50 albums!
In his 35-year career, Chente recorded over 50 albums! Talk about being prolific.
10. His father died just as he was going to go on stage
The stuff that legends are made of. in 1970 Chente found out his father had passed just before he was about to step on the stage. He sang while holding the tears back. What a legend.
11. In 1990 he released Vicente Fernandez y las clásicas de José Alfredo Jiménez, the best album ever for an afterparty
Chente offered a tribute to the old master with this amazing album that is just fantastic for a fiesta… picture yourself at 4 a.m. having a last chela and crying to your favorite heartbreaking tunes.
12. He has won 3 Grammys
Not bad for a little boy who once dreamt of becoming a famous mariachi. He has received a total of 13 nominations, which sort of makes him the Meryl Streep of ranchera music.
13. He is a vocal Trump critic
In one of his last concerts, Chente said that if he ever met him, he would spit on Trump’s face. He is really vocal about his support for Mexican migrants.
14. His favorite drink is…
No, not tequila! Chente loves aguas frescas and his staff is always ready with jamaica, tamarindo or horchata with plenty of ice.
15. He is a Frank Sinatra fan
Yes, besides loving the Mexican mariachis of the golden age, he is fascinated by Sinatra’s voice range and the way he moved on stage. We can certainly see some if Blue Eyes in the way that Chente connects with the audience. This is what The Houston Chronicle once said about him: “Vicente Fernández is the (Frank) Sinatra of ranchera music. He’s the supreme singer; the man who does things his way.”
16. This is what he looks like without his iconic mustache
We are so used to see him with his bigote ranchero that we couldn’t resist publishing this super rare photo. Kinda looks like El No Hay, doesn’t he?
17. He married the love of his life in 1963
Maria del Refugio “Cuca” Abarca Villasenor is her name, and they have been together through good times and bad times for many, many years. Chente often posts pictures of the older happy couple on his Insta.
18. He was BFF with Juanga
Talk about a dream friendship. Chente was heartbroken when Juanga died. He posted this amazing pic one year after the great Juan Gabriel passed away and broke our Latino hearts.
19. Social media is his guilty pleasure
Despite his advanced age, Don Chente is an avid user of social media. Perhaps he finds in social media the level of connection with his fans that any celebrity must strive for.
20. There are often false rumors about his presumed death… give the man a break!
Chente is always quick to come out and dismiss the rumors. If he died, our abuelitas would be in mourning and there would be no question.
21. His dad died the same year that El Potrillo was born: 1970-1971
When life takes, life gives. Chente’s dad died on the same year that one of his sons, the world famous Potrillo was born.