Juan Gabriel is without a doubt one of the most iconic and influential entertainers out of Mexico ever. His songs have been covered by some of the most popular musicians in the world, including Roberto Jordan, Rocío Dúrcal, José José, among many others. However, before reaching fame as JuanGa, he was known only by his original name, Alberto Aguilera Valadez.
So why after breaking into the music industry using his original name did he decide to change it?
JuanGa wasn’t always known as Juan Gabriel, here’s why he made the change.
Like so many of the world’s most famous artists, Juan Gabriel – or Alberto Aguilera Valadez – didn’t have the easiest upbringing. In fact, he faced many problems during his childhood as the youngest of his brothers. He didn’t get to spend much time with his mother since he was enrolled in boarding school so that she could focus on work. And Alberto lost his father at a very young age, so he never actually had the opportunity to even meet him.
In an interview on The Story Behind The Myth, Juan Gabriel explained why he had been named Alberto: “They named me Alberto because at that time the telenovela called El Derecho de Nacer was in fashion, and the main character was Alberto Limonta.” However, when he grew up and lived at the Escuela de Mejoramiento boarding school in Ciudad Juárez when he was a child, he met Juan Contreras, a piano and guitar teacher who taught him music.
“He told me that I had an ear for music and that he was going to teach me,” recalled Divo de Juárez in an interview. Juanito, as the singer called him, became his greatest confidante. “The times I was with Juanito, he would talk to me and listen to me and I would cry because my mother was not going to come see me or because I was locked up.”
And Juan Gabriel wasn’t the singer’s first stage name.
Upon finishing boarding school, Alberto started looking for a career in music. In 1965, he appeared on the nightly talk show, Noches Rancheras in Ciudad Juárez and the show’s host began to call him Adán Luna, which would be the singer’s first stage name.
However, over the years and with the opportunity to record his first album, Alberto Aguilera Valadez decided to change the name of Adán Luna to Juan Gabriel. The origin of this name is derived from two of the most important men in his life and whom he was most fond of.
The first, Juan, is in honor of the teacher that the Divo de Juárez met in the boarding school where he lived when he was a child, while Gabriel was his father’s first name.
Throughout his successful career, Alberto Aguilera Valadez managed to establish himself as one of the best artists in Mexico, despite the fact that he died almost 5 years ago, his legacy continues.
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