Younger Manzanero calls his father’s COVID death a wake-up call

Son regrets Dec. 7 maskless birthday bash in Oaxaca

Juan Pablo Manzanero, pictured with his father the balladeer Armando Manzanero. Photo: Internet
Juan Pablo Manzanero, pictured with his father the balladeer Armando Manzanero. Photo: Internet

Juan Pablo Manzanero warns that his famous father’s death is a lesson against lowering our guard against COVID-19.

Armando Manzanero, the famed Yucatan-born balladeer, died early Monday after a battle with COVID-19. Since at least October, he had been traveling despite general advice against it. But that was too much for the elder Manzanero, who turned 85 on Dec. 7 and celebrated in Oaxaca with several family members.

“We must give an attentive call to all people to be more responsible,” said the younger Manzanero. “My father, unfortunately, because of the restlessness that everyone suffers, from being tired of being at home, on his birthday he went into a rampage.”

“Suddenly I see a photo with 30 people, without facemasks, and I say, what an irresponsible thing,” his son lamented, who connected the party with the spread of COVID. His father also had diabetes and kidney disease.

He also shared the final conversations he held by telephone with his father.

“We talked to each other every day to say that we loved each other very much,” said JP, as he is called. “I spoke with him several times in the hospital until they took the phone from him because they forbade him to use it, then they intubated him, did his dialysis, and he continued fighting.”

The younger singer, songwriter and music producer noted that his father was a very active person.

“I said ‘hey pa, don’t go dating.’ And he told me ‘if I stay at home I’ll die.’ “

He exhorted Mexicans not to have parties, that no matter how much people want to see their loved ones, this is not the time to do so.

A few days after his birthday bash in Oaxaca, Manzanero flew to Mérida to open a museum dedicated to his life and career. Five days after that, he was in a Mexico City hospital and diagnosed with the coronavirus.

On Sunday, his medical report indicated that his lungs sounded clear, and doctors reportedly expected him to be extubated in the next few days. But early the next morning, Manzanero succumbed to the virus, which was complicated by kidney problems, according to The Associated Press

Manzanero joins other members of Latin America’s artistic community who have died during the pandemic: actresses Pilar Pellicer and Cecilia Romo, actors Ernesto Yáñez and Raymundo Capetillo, singers Oscar Chávez and Yoshio, as well as the film producer José Antonio Hernández.

The artist was best known for songs such as “Somos Novios,” which, with translated English lyrics, became the 1970s hit “It’s Impossible” for American singer Perry Como. The prolific Yucatecan singer-songwriter wrote more than 400 songs throughout his six-decade career, and many were performed by singers such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Andrea Bocelli and Luis Miguel.

Born in 1935, Manzanero began formal music studies at the local conservatory when he was 8. After working professionally as an accompanist when he was 16, he landed a job for CBS Records in Mexico City, which led him to singer Lucho Gatica, who recorded his song “Voy A Apagar La Luz,” turned it into a smash hit, and took on Manzanero as his accompanist. In 1959, Manzanero released his first album as a soloist.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador praised the Yucatan native as “a great composer, and the country’s best.”

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