Martha Macias, 49, holds a photograph of Mexican singer Juan Gabriel during a tribute Wednesday outside the Mexican consulate in Dallas. 

Martha Macias, 49, holds a photograph of Mexican singer Juan Gabriel during a tribute Wednesday outside the Mexican consulate in Dallas. 

Ben Torres/Special Contributor

Silvia Izeta pulls out her cellphone to show a present from her son-in-law: tickets to the Juan Gabriel concert Sept. 18 at the American Airlines Center. The concert she can't go to anymore, since the Mexican superstar died from a heart attack Sunday.

Another fan asks Izeta if she can get a refund. She scoffs.

"The money doesn't matter," says Izeta, bursting into tears. "I wanted to see him."

The 53-year-old joined more than 30 other fans Wednesday outside the Mexican consulate in Dallas to honor the artist who balanced flashy showmanship with down-to-earth charisma.

In his native Mexico, where masculine pride reigns, Juan Gabriel rose to fame in sequined costumes as he tossed his head and spun on stage. His songs about infatuation and heartache became anthems for generations of men and women, and they raised their children to his music.

Dallas resident Marisela Ramirez, 56, was a teenager when she became a Juan Gabriel fan. His songs constantly spilled from a jukebox at her high school in Mexico City. Years later, she played his songs for her children while doing chores around the house.

Her daughter Carmen Tellez of Plano spent her birthday Wednesday at the memorial outside the consulate. She said she wept when she learned Juan Gabriel had died.

So did her grandmother in Mexico. The 78-year-old woman's reaction to news of his death was swift. "He beat me to it," she said.

Grecia García, a local impersonator of Latino celebrities, dressed up as Juan Gabriel for the tribute in Dallas. She said he was one of the toughest people to imitate.

"The man had everything," she said.

Juan Gabriel grew up poor and spent part of his childhood in an orphanage. In the 1970s, he recorded his first song, "No Tengo Dinero," or "I Don't Have Money."

Anola Jimenez remembers seeing Juan Gabriel before he became an icon. He came to her town dressed in white, belting out songs for free. When he was finished, he threw candy to Jimenez and the other children in the audience.

She fell in love.

But as his career took off, she couldn't afford his shows, so Jimenez and her sister parked with a friend outside a venue to hear him sing.

The sisters moved to Texas in the mid-1990s, and in a few years, they were able to buy tickets. They saw him in Dallas last year, paying $80 apiece for "nosebleed" seats, $20 for parking and another $20 for T-shirts.

"It was worth it," Rosa Jimenez said.



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