His adoring fans waited for his 2016 tour to kick off in several Texas cities. But hours before his El Paso concert that Aug. 28, news broke that Juan Gabriel had died of a heart attack.
Fans of Juan Gabriel were shocked and devastated by the news of his sudden death. Known as the “Divo de Juarez” and “JuanGa,” the Mexican singer-songwriter became an icon for his rags-to-riches story. Fans loved his memorable performances in his signature brightly colored suits and ability to compose timeless love songs.
Perhaps more surprising to his fans was the news that the singer had biological children. Juan Gabriel had adopted children he spoke about openly, but weeks after his death, Spanish language broadcaster Univision had an exclusive with one of his biological sons, Luis Alberto Aguilera.
The wall-to-wall coverage for the channel showed photos and email conversations between the two, revealing a side of Juan Gabriel that many didn’t zknow. Since then, Aguilera’s life has changed tremendously as his life is more public.
“It’s definitely been a noticeable change,” Aguilera, who is bilingual, said in a phone interview with The Dallas Morning News. “I try to maintain the most normal outlook of toda las cosas [everything].”
Aguilera said his father had always been a part of his life, although his interactions with him were limited as Juan Gabriel’s fame kept him away traveling.
“Ever since I could remember, I knew who my father was,” Aguilera said in Spanish. “He was there for me every way he could.”
Aguilera's interests in music started when he was 15. His dad would give him advice, warning him that the celebrity life could be intense. Juan Gabriel kept his biological children private for fear that fame would ruin their lives.
Now at 27, he is making the decision to put himself into stardom.
"My father had a public life because that was what he decided to do with music, but he didn't want that [celebrity] life for me without choosing it," Aguilera said in Spanish.
The Mexican-born artist from Cuernavaca said his last conversations with his dad were about how to debut his music. Aguilera showed his father how he was experimenting with R&B and pop styles, writing both in English and Spanish.
“I love to create freely,” Aguilera said about not wanting to be tied down to a specific language and genre. “We talked about the plans for my future, but the time ran out on us.”
Aguilera looks just like his father Juan Gabriel did in his younger years, but the sound of Aguilera's music is slightly different. His latest song, “Incertidumbre,” which translates to "Uncertainty," is Spanish-language pop, though it's laced with touches of the familiar sounds of the marimba, drum and accordion sometimes heard in his father's music.
The success of Aguilera’s song comes as fans are marking the one-year anniversary of his father's death. He said it’s a bittersweet moment, something he wish he could share with his father, but now shares with many of his father’s fans.
“It’s something special that binds us. That’s the sweet side: their support and love for the both of us,” Aguilera said. “The bitter side is that he is not here to share that with me.”