Mexican singer and actor Antonio Aguilar, who brought his charreada-style shows and concerts to the United States, breaking records at Madison Square Garden in New York City, died late Tuesday in a Mexico City hospital. He was 88. Aguilar was hospitalized in a Mexico City hospital earlier this month with pneumonia.
Increasingly frail in the past few months, he’d had a pacemaker implanted in 2003.
His cremains are to be buried at his “El Zochiate” ranch in Zacatecas, where he was born on May 17, 1919.
Called “Mexico’s singing cowboy,” Aguilar appeared in concerts astride a horse.
Charreadas, similar to rodeos, were part of his show, which also featured his wife, singer Flor Silvestre, and his sons, Pepe Aguilar and Antonio ”Toño” Aguilar, both also entertainers.
Pepe Aguilar was born in San Antonio when his parents were performing here.
Aguilar brought his concerts to San Antonio many times. He last appeared here in March 2006 at Freeman Coliseum.
Usually playing to sold-out venues, he was said to have been the only Hispanic performer to have filled Madison Square Garden to capacity on six consecutive nights.
He recorded more than 160 albums and sold 25 million copies of his songs. His best-known songs were “Ay, Chabela,” “El aventurero,” “Corrido de Lucio Vásquez” and “Triste Recuerdo.”
He was a handful of Mexican entertainers invited to perform at the White House.
Aguilar made his first movie in 1952 with another singer-actor, Pedro Infante.
Aguilar appeared in more than 150 movies, some which he wrote, including “Emiliano Zapata” and “The Death of Pancho Villa,” and others he produced.
Several of the movies were made in Hollywood. He portrayed Rojas, a general allied with Mexican President Benito Juárez, in the 1969 movie “The Undefeated” starrying John Wayne and Rock Hudson.
Recording during the same period, Aguilar said he preferred songs from the period of the 1910 Mexican Revolution.
In Zacatecas, Aguilar was often invited to run for president of Mexico.
He reportedly turned it down because, he said, “I prefer my horses.”