Jump to content

Personal reflections: Alberto Aguilera Valadez, 1950–2016


PeterSJC

Recommended Posts

When I heard Amy Goodman say that Mexico's Elvis had died, and I came into my brother's living room and saw Juan Gabriel on the screen, I had to find a private place to lose my composure.


I like Amy Goodman's passionate blend of journalism and pursuit of justice—but "Elvis"? I haven't really followed Mr. Costello's music that much, but ...oh, wait, did she mean the alleged heart-throb from Tupelo, who made a name for himself while turning black blues music white? No, that doesn't seem right, either.


I mourn the Divo of Juárez, aging, diabetic, and overweight with multiple chins. His almost shuffling onstage movements were a mere shadow of the fluid motion of his youth, and in 2012 he frightened everyone by falling off the stage. His fans' adoration was undiminished. Juan Gabriel laughed off rumors of his death, "I had to look for a mirror to make sure they weren't true."


I mourn the unapologetically gay man who, while his orientation was known to everyone, did not make a career out of it. I never figured out whether his nickname Juanga was meant affectionately, or as a slightly homophobic epithet, or a little bit of both. The passion of his singing, the romance of his songs, and his genuine affection for the divas with whom he appeared onstage—Rocío Dúrcal and Isabel Pantoja, for example—made him the heart-throb of women and gay men everywhere.


I mourn the man whose concern for orphans and the children of poverty led him to do 10–12 benefit concerts per year and to found a home in Juárez for school children, aged 6–12.


Juan Gabriel's own body of work was considerable, but in his recordings and his live performances at Mexico City's Palace of Fine Arts, he paid frequent tribute to the great songwriters who preceded him: José Alfredo Jiménez, Augustín Lara, and others.


I mourn the starry-eyed 16-year-old who got himself smuggled into the Noa Noa nightclub in Ciudad Juáez, to sing and captivate the crowds there. The club was still there in the 1980s, when Héctor took me around Juárez to see his old haunts.


I mourn the boyish, 30-something man of the 1980s, the time when Héctor introduced me to his music. We would listen to it on our record-player and on Radio Romántica, and those songs became part of the fabric of our lives. The station was renamed Recuerdo (Memory), and happy tears sometimes come to my eyes when I hear it playing "Así Fue" or "Siempre en mi mente."


Musical memories do that to me. Years later, sitting in Stanford Theatre, watching Charlie Chaplin's City Lights with Héctor's successor Richard, I heard the theatre organ begin to play "La Violetera," and I was transported back to times when Héctor played Sara Montiel's rendition of it on our phonograph. When I began to weep, Richard understood. He mourned his Omaya, and Tony, and the others who had left him behind.


My relationships with Héctor and Richard were complex, and I really wouldn't want to go back there, but I miss them both, especially Héctor.

Link to comment

​I agree, Cole, and this from the man who seems to tell us in another thread that he lacks the skills of a fiction writer. Peter, don't self-denigrate your abilities. Fiction born from true events and people in life always read the best. What you have written above is worthy of becoming a short story...a place to start.

Link to comment

​I agree, Cole, and this from the man who seems to tell us in another thread that he lacks the skills of a fiction writer. Peter, don't self-denigrate your abilities. Fiction born from true events and people in life always read the best. What you have written above is worthy of becoming a short story...a place to start.

Thank you, Chris: coming from you, that means a lot. Here, I was expressing something inside of me, which needed to come out, and perhaps expanding some horizons by pointing out someone who was part of our community and remains an important part of Latino music. I often go to YouTube when music plays a part in a story that I read or help edit, and in that way I have been introduced to many artists whom I missed when I was young and mostly limited to classical music. This kind of sharing is not unlike what I sometimes do on Facebook, linking to an article that I have found worth reading.

I well imagine that you and other good authors are similarly expressing things that are inside of you. I have in my head some characters, people who have moved me in some way, as our paths have crossed. I would like to get them out, to explore them a bit. But I think a story needs a plot, a plausible one that also captures the reader's interest. So far, no plot has wanted to burst out of my head, nor do I feel a great need to contrive one. Writing is hard work, and I don't want to spend my time or that of readers, just so I can be an author.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...