Mexico bid a sad and nostalgic farewell Monday to the legendary composer and performer Armando Manzanero, who died at 85 of renal failure after losing a battle with Covid-19.
Manzanero’s songs are known around the world in several different languages, having been recorded by legends themselves, from Frank Sinatra, Elvis and Dionne Warwick to Andrea Bocelli.
The English version of his song Somos Novios, recorded as It’s Impossible by Perry Como, was nominated for a Grammy. He won a Latin Grammy in 2001 for his album Duets, a lifetime achievement award from the organization in 2014, and another lifetime achievement award at the 2020 Billboard Latin Music Awards. He also won many international music awards.
Born in Yucatán, Manzanero started out his career as a musical director for the Mexican branch of CBS International in 1957 and as a music promoter for the EMI record label. His own recording career began after an RCA Victor executive convinced him to record an album of romantic songs.
Many of his decades-long catalog of over 600 songs have been hits not only for himself but also for several successive generations of Mexican musicians.
“A song has to be written with sincerity,” Manzanero told Billboard in 2003. “It can’t be written with the desire to have instant success or passing success but wanting to have a song forever. It’s like when you do a painting. You have to do it right so that painting remains on the wall forever. That’s been my secret.”
“We celebrate his life and work,” said the Latin Recording Academy in a statement issued after Manzanero’s death. “An irreplaceable loss for the Latin music world. We are with the Manzanero family in their grief.”
Perhaps another testament to Manzanero’s impact on Mexican culture was President López Obrador’s remarks on his death.
“Armando Manzanero was a sensitive man, a man of the people. That’s why I lament his death. He was also a great composer.”
The artist was hospitalized on December 17 after being treated at home for five days following his diagnosis with Covid. Once under hospital care, Manzanero’s symptoms appeared to be improving as recently as December 27. However, doctors said that renal complications did not improve and ultimately caused his death.
Manzanero received the Covid diagnosis just six days after attending the inauguration of Casa de Manzanero, a museum in Mérida displaying his instruments, awards and other mementoes of his career.
He also served as president of the Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico, taking on the post in 2010 after having served in other posts within the association from the 1980s onward, fighting for his fellow composers’ rights.