Alberto Aguilera Valadez, better known by his stage name Juan Gabriel, is a Mexican singer and songwriter who is one of the most famous living representatives of the Mexican ranchera, ballad, mariachi, and pop music.
Born in Paracuaro, Michoacán, he attended boarding school in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, but he left to work as a craftsman at the age of 13. Already a songwriter, he began his performing career in nightclubs and local television using the stage name Adán Luna. A lot of his musical skills were also learned from an older man that befriended Alberto at an early age. He perfected playing the guitar and eventually changed his name to Juan Gabriel to honor his friend and his father, dropping Adan Luna completely. Juan became a vegetarian some years ago and is convinced of the health benefits afforded by the diet.
Juan Gabriel is best known for his first hit single “Querida” and his recent “Abrázame Muy Fuerte.”
In 1971, he landed a recording contract with RCA Records. He has written and recorded over 1000 songs in a variety of music genre. Changing his name to Juan Gabriel – Juan in honor of a schoolmaster for whom he held great admiration and adopting the stage surname of Gabriel in honor of his own deceased father, Gabriel Aguilera ,, he gradually established himself as Mexico’s leading commercial singer-songwriter, penning in many diverse styles such as rancheras with mariachi, ballads, pop, rock, disco, with an incredible string of hits for himself and for leading Latin singers including International star José José, Angélica María, Gualberto Castro, Aida Cuevas, Enriqueta Jiménez, Lucha Villa, Ana Gabriel, Luis Miguel and Rocio Durcal.
Gabriel made his film debut in 1975 in the movie Nobleza ranchera. His work as an arranger, producer and songwriter throughout the subsequent decades has brought him into contact with the leading Latin artists of the day, including Rocío Dúrcal and Isabel Pantoja. In addition to recording numerous hits on his own, Gabriel has produced albums for Rocio Durcal, Lucha Villa, Lola Beltran and Paul Anka. In 1984, he scored what is considered by many of his fans to be his greatest hit, “Querida” (“My Dear”) which stayed for over a year on the top of the hits chart
During 1986 to 1994 Aguilera refused to record any material with BMG over copyrights to his songs. During the dispute he continued to perform live. In 2000, according to the agreement between Gabriel and BMG, he assumed complete copyright and management responsibilities of more than 500 songs. Juan Gabriel’s entire song catalogue is published by BMG Music Publishing.
He has four children and stated they are not adopted and revealed that he had them with his life-long best friend.
Juan Gabriel, when he was asked about whether he was gay, replied “Lo que se ve no se pregunta, mijo. Yo no tengo por qué decirle cosas que a usted, como a muchas otras personas, no les interesa, yo pienso que soy un artista que he dado mucho con mis canciones”. (“What is seen is not asked about, young man. I have no reason to tell you, nor others, things that are none of your concern, dear. I feel I am an artist who has contributed much with my songs”).
On 14 November 2005, Juan Gabriel was seriously injured when he fell from the stage at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, and was hospitalized at the Texas Medical Center.
He continues to do 10 to 12 performances per year as benefit concerts for his favorite children homes and habitually poses for pictures with his fans and forwards the proceeds from the photo-ops to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, Juan Gabriel founded Semjase, a house for orphaned and underserved children located in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It serves school children between the ages of 6 to 12.