Late Mexican Superstar José José’s Body Went Missing And Sent His Family Into An Epic Feud
Known for his melancholic love ballads, Mexican crooner José José left behind a legacy of music that captivated audiences with his baritone voice and lyric tenor. In 2017, José announced he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. On September 28, the legend passed away in Florida.
The Mexican Ministry of Culture announced his death saying, “We are sorry for the passing of singer José Rómulo Sosa, better known as José José of the prince of the song. Since the beginning of his career, the singer of El Triste became one of most beloved voices in Mexico. Rest in Peace.”
A life seemingly destined for music
Born in Mexico City on February 17, 1948 to Margarita Ortiz Pensado, a concert pianist, and a father who was a tenor in the National Opera of Mexico, it is no surprise he had an aptitude for music at a young age. The fact would also spawn his namesake.
José’s father had abandoned him as a small child, then passed away when José was 17. It was at this moment that he adopted the name José José, adding the latter to honor his father.
“Since I inherited his voice,” Mr. José told the Associated Press in 2005, “this is recognition of that inheritance.”
Everybody from Gloria Estefan and Maluma to the Mexican President paid their tributes to the iconic singer.
“Nos exprimió los corazones con su voz inconfundible y dejó una marca imborrable en el mundo de la música…Descansa en paz, José José…muchas gracias por tus bellas canciones y tu legado musical que vivirá por siempre,” Estefan wrote on Instagram. “He wrung out our hearts with his unmistakable voice and left an indelible mark on music for all time…Rest in Peace, José José, thank you for the beautiful songs and your musical legacy that will live forever!”
“He was an extraordinary singer from an era that, with his songs and his romanticism, made a lot of people from my generation cry and be happy,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters.
The career of José José the “Prince of Song”
José sang in cafes as a teenager before he founded the rock group Heart Breakers, which produced an unsuccessful album in the mid-1960s before his solo career took off.
In the 1970s, José released the single “La Nave Del Olvido” which was a hit in Mexico and Latin America and would become the title of his second album. On March 15, 1970, José performed the song “El Triste” at the II Festival de la Canción Latina, an annual singing competition. He received a standing ovation from the audience judges, Angélica María, Alberto Vázquez, Marco Antonio Muñiz. He finished in third place but his unique voice and ballad style would launch him into stardom in Mexico and Latin America.
His album Secretos would become a megahit, and over the course of the career, José sold millions of albums around the world. While José was nominated for six Grammys he never did take the trophy home, however in 2004 the Latin Recording Academy recognized the singer with a Musical Excellence Prize. This would coincide with the crooner’s reception of a Hollywood Walk of Fame star.
But fans and family could barely process the singer’s death before the story took a telenovela-style twist.
Legendary Mexican singer Jose Jose’s legions of fans had not even finished processing the news of his death when a mystery exploded amid the mourning: where is the body of “The Prince of Song”?
Emotional fans were still belting out his classic hits through tears in Claveria, his native Mexico City neighborhood, when the loss took a telenovela-like turn: Jose Jose’s two oldest children, Jose Joel and Marysol, accused their younger half-sister and her mother of hiding his body.
When Jose Joel and Marysol, whose mother was the second of Jose Jose’s three wives, arrived Sunday at the funeral home where they thought his wake would be held, they were told their father’s body was not there. They said their father’s third wife, Sara Salazar, and her daughter Sarita refused to tell them where it is or what the funeral plans are.
As comparisons to Elvis Presley began to fly — is he really dead? — Jose Joel and Marysol went to the police station in Cutler Bay, Florida, to file a report on his missing remains.
“If I don’t see my dad’s body I can’t believe anything. Nothing,” Marysol told journalists outside the station house.
In an exclusive interview with Univision on Sunday, Sarita made an appeal for family unity and said it was “still very early to decide what will be done” with the remains.
She blamed the confusion surrounding her father’s body on US regulations on handling remains.
“US laws are very strict. Unfortunately, not even his wife has been able to view the body,” she wrote in a statement published Monday on the Instagram account of a Univision program called “El Gordo y La Flaca.”
“People of Mexico: we will bring him to Mexico so you can say goodbye. We promise you will be able to hold a wake for him,” she added.
Memes comparing Sarita to the most iconic villains of Mexico’s melodramatic telenovela soap operas went viral.
Many accused the aspiring singer-songwriter of using her father’s death to further her own singing career and of trying to make a profit.
One thing is certain, the drama surrounding the whereabouts of Mexico’s beloved José José is not over yet and all of the nation’s eyes and ears are waiting for an answer.