José José, Mexican Singing Icon, Dead at 71

September 29, 2019 Updated: September 29, 2019

Mexican performing legend José José has died at the age of 71.

Citing his assistant, Laura Nuñez, Mexican outlet Televisa Espectáculos said in a post on Twitter that José José died in Miami, Florida, on Saturday, Sept. 28.

In announcing the news in a Twitter post, Mexico’s Ministry of Culture referred to the artist by his sobriquet “El Príncipe de la canción,” or “Prince of Song.”

The Spanish-language singer, songwriter, and actor—whose birth name is José Rómulo Sosa Ortiz—had been hospitalized multiple times in recent years. Multiple media outlets said the singer died at a South Florida hospital after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

José José confirmed his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2017, Billboard reported. He later published a video telling fans he was determined to fight the disease.

“I’m ready to face this new adventure in my life hand-in-hand with God and hand-in-hand with you all,” he told followers.

Luminous Career

José José was born to a family of musicians on Feb. 17, 1948, in Mexico City. His mother, Margarita Ortiz Pensado, was a concert pianist and his father was a tenor in the National Opera of Mexico.

The singer added a second José to his artist’s name in honor of his father, who died when José José was 17.

“I wanted to honor the memory of my father, who was a great opera singer and died very young, without knowledge of my success,” José José told The Associated Press in a 2005 interview. “Since I inherited his voice, this is recognition of that inheritance.”

José José climbed to the top of the Latin charts in the 1970s with slow songs such as “El Triste” or “The Sad Man,” and “Amar y querer” or “Love and want.”

The power of his voice and ability to sing technically difficult tunes in a wide register made him a treasured cultural icon in Latin America and won him fans around the world.

In this April 28, 2011 file photo, Jose Jose performs during the Latin Billboard Awards, in Coral Gables, Fla. Local media outlets report that the Mexican crooner died Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, from pancreatic cancer. He was 71. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, File)

José José was nominated on multiple occasions for a Grammy, but never obtained the prize. The Latin Recording Academy recognized the singer with a Musical Excellence Prize at the 2004 Latin Grammy awards. That same year, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Fans in Mexico City turned out in droves on Saturday to honor the star.

Fans gather to sing and remember Jose Jose while mourning his death at Jose Jose’s statue in Mexico City, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Anthony Vazquez)

Tributes

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he was sad to hear of José José’s death. “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,” he told reporters.

Mexico’s Ministry of Culture posted a tribute to the iconic performer.

“From the Ministry of Culture 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,” the ministry tweeted Saturday.

“He squeezed our hearts with his unmistakable voice and left an indelible mark on the world of music,” Latin music star Gloria Estefan said on Twitter.

Canadian entertainer Paul Anka called him a friend as he recalled sharing the stage to perform a bilingual rendition of his 1973 song, “Let Me Get To Know You.”

Television personality Don Francisco hailed José José as a music industry icon and said in a tweet that his “impressive legacy would make him eternal.”

José José leaves behind three children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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