Juan Gabriel

Juan Gabriel
Juan Gabriel. Joe Raedle /Getty Images

Born: January 7, 1950 in Paracuaro, Michoacan, Mexico:

Juan Gabriel - Early Days:

Juan Gabriel (Alberto Aguilera Valadez) is the youngest of ten children. His father died before he was born; his mother subsequently went to work as a housekeeper in Juarez, Chihuahua. At the age of five Gabriel went to live in a boarding school, not the happiest of circumstances for a young child.

Gabriel found solace in music and wrote his first song when he was 13 years old.

That was the same year that he left the school and began making his living as a carpenter. Soon after, he began singing in local Juarez clubs under the name of Adan Luna.

Alberto Aguilera Valadez Becomes Juan Gabriel:

In 1971, Gabriel secured both a recording contract with RCA Records (now BMG) and a new name to coincide with his move to Mexico City. The new name ‘Juan Gabriel’ was a tribute to both his father and a schoolmaster that had served as inspiration over the years.

It was that same year that Gabriel wrote and recorded the first hit of his career, “No Tengo Dinero,” and started on the road to stardom.

In the next 15 years, Juan Gabriel’s fame grew as he recorded 15 albums, sold some 20 million records and appeared in films such as Nobleza Ranchera and Lado de Puerte.

Dispute With BMG:

All that ended in 1985. In the midst of a bitter dispute with BMG about who owned the copyright to songs that Gabriel had composed, Juan Gabriel refused to record any new material for the ensuing eight years.

An agreement was finally reached in 1994 and Gabriel released a new album of modern pop tunes name Gracias Por Esperar (Thanks For Waiting).

Gabriel spent the following years recording albums at a prolific rate and found that his popularity had not waned in the previous years. In 1996, on the 25th anniversary of his recording career, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs titled 25 Anniversarios, Solos, Duetos, y Bersiones Especiales which contained 25 CDs reflecting the magnitude of his life’s work.

Juan Gabriel - Hall of Fame Composer:

While Gabriel has always been a popular performer, it is his work as a composer that truly stands out. His compositions have been recorded by many other singers and include hits such as “Yo No Se Que Me Paso,” “El Palo,” “Mi Pueblo,” “Te Sigo Amando,” “Asi Tu” and many, many more. In fact, Gabriel is credited with having penned more than 500 songs, quite a feat for a man untrained in music.

In 1996, Gabriel was inducted into the ‘Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame;’ the previous year he was named ASCAP’s ‘Songwriter of the Year.’

Personal Life:

Juan Gabriel has never married. He has four children and has stated that they are not adopted and that the mother is his (unnamed) lifelong best friend.

He performs an average of one concert a month to benefit various children’s homes and founded Semjase, a home for children in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Partial Discography: