Mexican crooner Jose Jose, hero of jilted lovers, dead at 71

Fans gather to sing and remember Jose Jose while mourning his death at Jose Jose's statue in Mexico City. [AP Photo]

Famous Mexican cultural icon , 71, died on Saturday in South Florida in the United States. Ortiz, known by his stage name , was reportedly pronounce dead on Saturday after a two-year fight with .

Jose Jose, a velvety-voiced Mexican crooner who was wildly popular in Latin America over a 50-year career that spawned love song after love song, has died, the Mexican government and his son said Saturday. He was 71.

Jose Romulo Sosa Ortiz, known as the "principe de la cancion," or prince of song, had suffered from .

"We regret to report the of singer Jose Romulo Sosa, better known as ... since the beginning of his career, the singer of 'El Triste' was one of the most beloved voices in Mexico," the country's Culture Ministry said on Twitter.

Son Jose Joel posted images of black ribbons on his Facebook page, saying "we are trying to process the situation by having in our heart the divine promise that we will see and hold him again, never to be separated."

Mexican broadcaster Televisa, which Jose Jose worked with for much of his career, reported that the singer died Saturday at a hospital in Homestead, Florida, near Miami.

His body was taken to a Miami funeral home later in the day where his wife, Sara Salazar, gave a brief statement to the press.

"The love of my life has gone away," she said.

In his heyday in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Jose Jose churned out hit records at a dizzying pace.

He sold more than 120 million records during his professional life, many of them featuring songs meant to comfort jilted lovers.

His first international hit -- "La Nave del Olvido," or "The Ship of Oblivion" -- came out in 1970 and is still heard on Latin American radio stations from time to time.

"He was an extraordinary singer," Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

"He made many people in my generation cry or feel happy with his songs," the 65-year-old leader said. "The best tribute that we can pay him is to remember and never stop listening to his songs. Some of his hits are just amazing."

His lyrics could be heard playing in Mexico's streets and coming from houses, shops and cars throughout the afternoon, as TV stations canceled previously planned programming to air remembrances.

Jose Jose had an interest in mysticism, and in March 2018, when he revealed to his fans that he had been diagnosed with cancer, he blamed it on what he called negative energy surrounding him.

- ROMANCES AND ALCOHOLISM -
After the news of his death, fans flocked to Claveria, the middle-class neighborhood of the Mexican capital where Jose Jose grew up, to sing his best-known songs, including "El Triste."

Some 300 fans, including older people who said they had met him, gathered in a park where his statue is located.

Jose Jose was very open with the press and his fans about his personal life, including his romances and battle with alcoholism.

"He was my idol. It's very sad... life was very unfair to him," Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez, who performed a ranchera song with Jose Jose, told Televisa.

In 2008, Jose Jose published his autobiography, "This is My Life," and promoted it as an inspiration for people battling addiction.

He quit drinking in 1993, but the hard life he had led, the strain on his voice after decades of performing, and other health issues silenced his beloved tenor tones. He stopped singing in the early 2000s.

Sosa Ortiz was born in Mexico City to a family of musicians. As a small child, he got his first taste of that world by singing in school choirs.

As a teen, he performed in taverns and sang serenades until he recorded his first album in 1969. It was a smash hit.

That was when he took Jose Jose as his showbiz name, the second Jose meant to honor his father, who had died a year earlier.

The crooner married three times and fathered three children. He married his Cuban widow, Salazar, in 1995. They moved from Mexico to Miami that same year.

In an interview in January 2018 on Telemundo to promote a TV series based on his life, Jose Jose was a mere shadow of what he had been. He spoke in a weak, fragile voice, his face partially paralyzed.

Asked about love, the man who spent decades singing about it, said that throughout his life, he had never been able to stand up for himself with his lovers.

"They did absolutely whatever they wanted with me," he said.

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