Armando Manzanero, Mexican composer of hits by Luis Miguel, Elvis Presley, dead at 86
Armando Manzanero, one of Mexico’s greatest romantic composers, whose ballads were performed by Elvis Presley and Christina Aguilera, died in Mexico City on Monday.
Mr Manzanero’s family listed his age as 86, although some sources said he was 85.
His death was announced on national television by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and by the Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico, of which Mr Manzanero was president.
“A great composer, one of the best in the country” and “a socially sensitive man,” said López Obrador.
Mr Manzanero had been hospitalized and put on a ventilator a week before his death with Covid-19, but his son Diego Manzanero said the cause was cardiac arrest after complications from kidney problems.
In a career spanning seven decades, Mr. Manzanero wrote more than 400 songs, including hits like “It’s Impossible” and “Adoro” (“I Adore You”). He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. He was also a noted singer and producer.
After touring with several well-known Mexican musicians at the beginning of his career, he recorded his first songs in 1959 and released his first solo album “A Mi Amor … Con Mi Amor” (“To my love … with my love”). In 1967 he released dozens of albums, some of which consisted of duets.
In 1971, Mr. Manzanero received a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year for “It’s Impossible,” a translation of his 1968 song “Somos Novios” sung by Perry Como. The song with a lush melody and syrupy lyrics continues to be popular. Elvis Presley and Andrea Bocelli recorded a duet with Mrs. Aguilera.
Luis Miguel sang several of Mr. Manzanero’s songs for his 1997 album “Romances”. A worldwide success, the album was credited with a new popularity of Latin American romantic music, which had lost some of its favor with the rise of Latin pop in the 1980s and 1990s.
Manzanero’s love songs are often deceptively simple, but permeated with tenderness and passion and have been resonating in different cultures and languages for decades.
“A song has to be written sincerely,” he told Billboard Magazine in 2003. “It cannot be written with a desire to succeed or to succeed immediately.” Rather, he said it should be written for eternity.
Jan. 1, 2021, 11:00 p.m. ET
“It’s like painting,” he added. “You have to do it right so that the painting stays on the wall forever. That was my secret. “
Armando Manzanero Canché, who was Mayan heir, was born on December 7, 1934 in Merida, southeastern Mexico, although his date of birth was not officially recorded until a year later, as December 7, 1935, he said in interviews. (Some records suggest he was born on February 7, 1935.)
“One year more, one year less, it makes no difference,” he said in a 2019 interview about the Mexican Imagen Televisión.
As the oldest of three siblings, he also had two half-brothers.
His parents introduced him to music at a young age. His mother, Juana Canché, was a performer of Yucatán folklore dances; his father, Santiago Manzanero, was a musician – “a great guitarist,” Mr Manzanero had said.
He studied at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City. In 1957 he married María Elena Arjona Torres, the first of five women.
“People who are lucky in life only get married once,” said Mr Manzanero.
His fourth wife, Olga Aradillas Lara, accused him of domestic abuse, a claim he publicly denied at a press conference in 2005. “I have never mistreated her,” he was quoted in the La Jornada newspaper. “I never hit her.”
Despite the accusation and his multiple marriages, he was considered a hopeless romantic in Mexico. Actress and singer Susana Zabaleta, who recorded two albums with Mr. Manzanero, said it was his love for love itself that she would remember most.
“The maestro has always had a great fascination with being in love,” she said in a telephone interview. “He was always in love, he was always a man who believed in love.” She added, “He was a great lover of falling in love again.”
He was a workhorse too. He had recently completed a new album and was halfway through recording another when he died. He and Mrs. Zabaleta planned to tour Mexico and the United States this year.
“He worked like he wasn’t famous,” said his son Diego in a telephone interview. “The 86 years he lived has been wonderful and we enjoyed him – he had so many people who loved him.”
Mr. Manzanero’s survivors include his son and his wife Laura Elena Villa; six other children, Armando, Maria Elena, Martha, Mainca, Rodrigo and Juan Pablo; 16 grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; and two sisters.
Ms. Zabaleta said she still plans to go on tour next year. Mr. Manzanero, she said, would go on living “as long as we sing his songs”.