The death of iconic Mexican singer Juan Gabriel came as a shock to fans everywhere. Although the 66-year-old had battled health problems for years, it appeared Juan Gabriel was back on track: he had just released a new album, was in the middle of a successful tour and appeared to be in good spirits during live shows. Despite being a household name for decades, there are several facts about Juan Gabriel’s life, resurfacing after his death, that may come as a surprise some fans. Then there are other facts about Juan Gabriel that just remind us how much ass he kicked throughout his career. Check it:
1. His real name wasn’t Juan Gabriel.
CREDIT: Credit: BMG U.S. Latin
Born Alberto Aguilera Valadez, the young singer combined the name of his musical mentor, Juan Contreras, and the name his father, Gabriel Aguilera, to create his stage name.
2. He was basically orphaned by age 5.
CREDIT: Credit: Cine de Mexico
Born in Paracuaro, Michoacan, Mexico, Juan Gabriel was the youngest of 10 children. After his father was committed to a mental hospital, Juan Gabriel’s mother moved the family to Ciudad Juárez, where she eventually left a 5-year-old Juan Gabriel at a children’s home.
3: He had the BEST RESPONSE EVER when asked about his sexuality.
Credit: Primer Impacto / YouTube
During an interview with “Primer Impacto,” Juanga was asked straight up if he was gay. His response? “Dicen que lo que se ve no se pregunta, mijo.” (“They say you shouldn’t ask about the things you can easily see.”) Also, check out that frustrated sigh at the 0:23.
4. Although he was vague about his sexuality, Juan Gabriel had four children with friend Laura Salas.
CREDIT: Credit: Azteca America
5. The final episode of “Hasta Que Te Conocí,” a TV mini-series biopic about Juan Gabriel’s life, was broadcast in Mexico on the same day of his death.
CREDIT: Credit: TV Azteca
6. Despite selling more than 100 million albums in Mexico, he didn’t have a desire to cross over to the English-speaking U.S. audience.
CREDIT: Credit: BMG Ariola
When asked why he didn’t try to cross over, Juan Gabriel said: “Mexican music must be defended with vigilance.… My thoughts, my feelings, my spirit, they are all in Spanish.”
7. He was the first non-classical musician to play live at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.
CREDIT: Credit: JuanGabrielVEVO / YouTube
After making his Palacio de Bellas Artes debut in 1990, Juan Gabriel returned to perform at the prestigious venue in 2013.
8. Juan Gabriel recorded songs in Japanese, French and Portuguese. Here’s the Japanese-language version of “No Tengo Dinero.”
Credit: Jorge Torres / YouTube
9. “El Noa Noa,” one of his most famous songs, was inspired by the nightclub where Juan Gabriel, who was performing as Alberto Valadez, made his debut. He was only 16.
Credit: apofisis74 / YouTube
“Este es un lugar de ambiente donde todo es diferente. Donde siempre alegremente bailarás toda la noche ahí,” sings Juan Gabriel.