Mexican superstar singer-songwriter Juan Gabriel, who died August 28 at 66, was a six-time Grammy nominee who wrote hits for himself and the likes of José José, Luis Miguel and Rocío Dúrcal, while producing such artists as Dúrcal, Lucha Villa, Lola Beltrán and Paul Anka.
His 1984 album Recuerdos, Vol. II was the best-selling album of all time in Mexico, and his hit “Querida” (My Dear) stayed at No. 1 for over a year. Additionally, he was last year’s top-selling Latin artist in the U.S.
Currently, his version of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”–titled “Gracias Al Sol”—graces the recently released Latin artist tribute to CCR Quiero Creedence.
According to producer Gustavo Farias, Gabriel was so excited about it being the album’s first single that “he immediately started tweeting to let his fans know about the summer release-and that it wasn’t his song! Everyone was
freaking out because over 40 years, it’s the first song that he ever recorded that he didn’t write.”
Farias related how he nervously tracked Gabriel’s vocals on a laptop in a hotel room in the Mexican border state of Sonora-notorious for heavy drug smuggling. They returned there a couple weeks later and filmed a video for the single in the middle of a jungle. So far the clip has garnered over 10.7 million YouTube views.
As “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” is Farias’s own favorite CCR song, he simply added a couple small mariachi guitars, vihuelas, to give it “a little funky feeling,” he said. “There are a couple nice violin lines, too, so there’s a little of Juan Gabriel’s personality and the essence of Creedence.”
John Fogerty, CCR’s frontman and songwriter, commented on Gabriel’s passing.
“My heart is heavy and very sad today for Juan Gabriel has passed away,” he said. “Juan is a legend in the world of Latin Music and someone that I truly admire. He has written and recorded hundreds of beautiful songs and recently had
recorded a wonderful version of my song ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ that I love very much.”
Concord Label Group president John Burk, an executive producer of Quiero Creedence (released via Concord) said, “We’re deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Juan Gabriel. He was a true musical giant whose incredible songs and voice touched countless lives.”
Gabriel Abaroa, president/CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, noted that Gabriel’s musical legacy “is much more than one or hundreds of songs.”
“He composed philosophy,” stated Abaroa. “In addition, he carried out heartfelt philanthropy with orphans of his Ciudad Juárez. He broke taboos, devoured stages and conquered diverse audiences. In 2009, the Latin Academy named him
Person of the Year, and honored him for his career and social work during a star-studded gala. The voice of the Mexican icon will resonate forever in all those who knew him, as we continue to dance to his music and appreciate
Also in a statement, President Obama said: “For over 40 years, Juan Gabriel brought his beloved Mexican music to
millions, transcending borders and generations. To so many Mexican-Americans, Mexicans and people all over the world, his music sounds like home. With his romantic lyrics, passionate performances and signature style, Juan Gabriel captivated audiences and inspired countless young musicians. He was one of the greats of Latin music–and his spirit will live on in his enduring songs, and in the hearts of the fans who love him.”