José José, the iconic Mexican singer and songwriter known affectionately as El príncipe de la Canción (Prince of Songs), is dead, according to news reports from Mexican journalists.
The beloved balladeer died in a hospital in South Florida on September 28, 2019. Although the cause of death was not immediately released, the singer had a well-publicized battle with cancer. “Today, Saturday, September 28, José José died at age 71 in Miami Flo .. Confirmed by his assistant Laura Nuñez,” wrote Televisa Espectáculos on Twitter. Many other sites followed suit. Tributes began to flood into social media.
In 2017, José José confirmed that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, according to Billboard. The singer’s full name was José Rómulo Sosa Ortiz. All Music described the El Triste singer as a “classically trained vocalist dubbed the ‘Prince of Song,’ one of Mexico’s great balladeers and hitmakers since the 1970s.”
The legendary singer had undergone chemotherapy, telling fans in a video two years ago: “That is the reality of what I’m going through. I want to you to know that aside from the small tumor, I am well. I am ready to take on this new adventure in my life.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Singer Confirmed His Cancer Diagnosis in a Moving Video He Shared on Social Media
According to Billboard, the Mexican singer/songwriter José José confirmed his cancer diagnosis on social media in the form of a video, which you can watch above.
At the time, he was 69 and had been hospitalized. “I want to be the one to inform you guys what is happening in my life and career, like I have been doing all my life,” he says in the video, according to Billboard, which added that he explained doctors found a pancreatic tumor after he started losing weight.
He would live two more years. He was already failing in 2018, though, when he was rushed to a Florida hospital by private jet. At that time, The Miami Herald described Jose Jose as being in “very delicate health” and weighing less than 100 pounds.
At that time, doctors were still expressing hope. “He started rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, and was responding very well,” a doctor said in 2018, according to the Herald. “The tumor was removed.”
2. José José’s Hits Earned Him a Place as One of the ‘Most Beloved Figures in Mexican Pop’
José José enjoyed phenomenal success throughout his life. According to Billboard, he “had 20 Hot Latin Songs hits, four reached No. 1, and 15 albums on the Top Latin Albums chart,” and he sold more than 1.8 million albums in the United States.
According to RT, José José had achieved “worldwide fame in 1971 with his interpretation of Roberto Cantoral’s ‘El Triste’, at the OTI Festival.”
The Los Angeles Times once called him one of the “most beloved figures in Mexican pop.” He started his career at only age 15 but produced more than 30 albums and starred in films, such as Gavilán o Paloma and Perdóname Todo. According to the Times, his music hit universal themes, ranging from love to loneliness to “his weakness for all women.”
“Before going onstage you can always feel the adrenaline pouring through your veins,” he said to the Los Angeles Times in 1995.
3. The Singer Was Married Three Times & Leaves Behind Three Children
According to IMDB, the legend had been married to Sara Salazar since 1995. “They have one child. He was previously married to Anel (Noreña) and Kikis Herrera Calles, the site reports.
Three times wed by 1995, he was then the father of a 4 month old daughter. Journalist Irving Pineda wrote on Twitter, “José José is survived by his wife Sara Salazar, his children Sarita Sosa (who he had with his current wife), and José Joel and Marisol (who had with Anel Noreña).” IMDB lists the children this way: “Jose-Francisco Ortiz (born 1975), Marysol Estrella Ortiz (born 1982) and Sara Ortiz (born 1995).”
In 2018, his wife denied rumors that he had died at that time, telling El Diario in 2018, “That’s a lie, José is slowly recovering. My daughter and I are watching him. They have already started giving him food and medicine. This hospital is very good and has excellent doctors.”
Tragically, the reports of the singer’s death are true this time, according to numerous Mexican news reports.
Throughout the years, the singer sometimes had a rocky relationship with his son. According to People Magazine, in a 2008 report, “after a two-year feud filled with accusations and bitter moments, José José and his eldest son José Joel have waved their white handkerchiefs in the air in sign of peace.”
“Last night José Joel went to my house in Miami with his girlfriend and we talked for a while, but we couldn’t keep talking because of my trip,” the singer told the magazine, but he still planned to boycott the son’s wedding. Jose Jose told People that he felt “his ex wife Anel, José Joel and his sister had dragged his name through the mud by making private matters public.”
Despite his great success, Jose Jose had financial problems throughout his life. “On November 2008, his current wife suffered from a cerebral haemorrhage, José stated that the medical bills nearly caused him to go bankrupt,” reported last.fm. He told TV Notas magazine “that he and his family live ‘day by day’ and in 2014, he sold his five-million-dollar house in Coral Gables, Florida and moved to an apartment in Miami,” the site reported.
4. José José, Whose Parents Were Also Gifted Musicians, Began Singing in His Teens
José José was born into a family of musicians in Mexico City, and he began singing and playing guitar in his early teens, according to a biography on PeoplePill.com. He focused on serenades.
“He was raised into a Roman Catholic family of gifted musicians,” the site reported, adding that his father José Sosa Esquivel “was an operatic tenor (tenor comprimario)” and his mother, Margarita Ortiz, a classical pianist.
He later “joined a jazz and bossa nova trio where he sang and played bass and double bass,” the site reports, but it was his rendition of “El Triste” in Mexico City in 1970 that was his big breakthrough moment. He was born Jose Sosa, according to the Los Angeles Times.
5. The Singer Struggled With Alcohol But Staged a Remarkable Comeback in the 1990s
Jose Jose had many health problems throughout his life. A 1995 article in The Los Angeles Times described how he would joke to audiences, “They used to bring me here in a limousine…Now, they use an ambulance.”
According to the newspaper, that joke referred to something very serious: Alcohol problems that almost wrecked his career in the early 1990s. There were rumors then that he died when he spent time in rehab in Denver. However, he didn’t give up, rebounding to what the newspaper called a “remarkable comeback that…has reestablished him as one of Mexico’s premier romantic balladeers.”
This post is being updated as more information is learned about the death of José José.