Vicente Fernández (born Vicente Fernández Gómez on February 17, 1940) is a Mexican ranchera singer. He is the father of Alejandro Fernández, also a popular Mexican artist. Fernández's life could be described as a rags-to-riches story—having come from humble beginnings, he eventually established himself as a famous musician.
In his native Mexico, Vicente Fernández is hailed as the "king of the rancheros." He was born and raised in Huentitán el Alto, Jalisco, Mexico on Feb. 17, 1940 to a poor family and had to work since his childhood to maintain himself. Fernandez worked as a shoeshine boy, a waiter and dishwasher. Later, he served as cashier and manager of his uncle's restaurant. During his youth he sung at a festival in Arandas, Jalisco. He was booed off the stage by the audience. That day he proclaimed, "I will never come and sing to the city again."
Vicente got his start when he won a Guadalajara singing contest. At age 21 he was in the show "La Calandria Musical" where he received his first payment for singing. He earned 35 pesos. He and his ranchera music have become most popular in Latin America and in Spain.
At 21, Fernandez decided to make his living by singing. Initially, he sang for tips at the Amanecer Tapatio, serenaded drivers who sat waiting to move in traffic, and continued with "La Calandria Musical." From there he went on to sing with some of Mexico's best-known mariachi groups, such as Amanacer de Pepe Mendoza and the Mariachi of Jose Luis Aguilar. It was through these groups that he met Felipe Arriaga.
Arriaga encouraged Fernandez to move to Mexico City, where he became a major singer on Mexico's No. 1 XEX radio station. It was through this medium that Fernandez was able to reach larger audiences and achieve initial fame for himself.
Fernandez believed in fulfilling his professional duties and not disappointing his audiences. The night his father died was one of those occasions. He was ready to go on stage when he received news that his father has died. Fernandez went on with the performance. That night, he expressed such deep feelings through his singing that audience members, who were not told of his father's death until after he had left the stage, were in awe. As a result of this performance, many people started to compare him to some of Mexico's great singers, such as Pedro Infante, Javier Solis, José Alfredo Jimenez and Jorge Negrete.
Fernandez said his greatest accomplishment was when he filled La Plaza de Mexico, He asked the Mexican authorities not to charge the public for this concert. So certain was Fernandez that he would attract a capacity crowd he vowed that if La Plaza did not get filled he would stop singing.
The day of the concert was cold and rainy. However, that didn't stop his fans as 54,000 of them showed up to hear Fernandez. His record still stands today as the largest gathering of an audience of any concert at La Plaza.
Fernandez has made 56 albums. One of his best-selling recordings was his tribute to Trio de los Panchos, who produced two top hits for him, "Miseria" and "No, No y No." He has also recorded many compositions by such Mexicans as Armando Manzanero and Augustin Lara. In 1995, his tribute to Mexico's beloved Trio Los Panchos, Recordando A Los Panchos, earned him considerable acclaim and produced two major hits, "Miseria" and "No, No, Y No."
He owns and primarily lives in a huge ranch named "Los Tres Potrillos" located between the cities of Guadalajara and Chapala Jalisco, Mexico. It was named after his three sons. It is complete with stables, 2 houses, a lake, high bred horses and a church. During Christmas time thousands of children go to this ranch where hundreds of thousands of dollars in Christmas gifts are given out.
In 2005, Fernández and his sons, Alejandro and Vicente Jr., made history by becoming the first Latin American singers to appear as cartoons in a video, for Vicente Sr.'s song, Al Mayor de los Fernandez (To the Oldest Fernández), dedicated to Vicente Sr.'s father.
Vicente has been married to Maria del Refugio Abarca Villaseñor since December 27, 1963. He has had three sons with her: Vicente Jr, Gerardo, and Alejandro. His fans and the media refer to him as "Chente", a diminutive of his name out of affection but in interviews and events he is also addressed as Don Vicente out of respect. In Mexico he is referred to as "El Rey" (the king) and as "El Charro de Huentitán" (the Charro of Huentitan). His wife is affectinately known as Doña Cuca. Vicente, just like his son Alejandro, is notorious for being a ladies man and is often called a Don Juan. 
Vicente was involved in a scandal when it was made public that he had maintained a relation for ten years with Patricia Rivera, whom he met in 1977 while filming "El Arracadas". Years later she declared that her son, Pablo Rodrigo, was a product of that relationship and Vicente recognized Rodrigo as his son, giving him the Fernandez name. Afterwards DNA testing proved that Pablo was not his son.
In 2004, while in concert in Miami's American Airlines Arena, Vicente had to pay $30,000 USD for having gone over the original scheduled time for the concert. He sang for three hours some of his all time hits as well as songs from his then new album "Se Me Hizo Tarde la Vida".
Vicente has a star in Hollywood's Walk of Fame and his ceremony there was attended by over 5,000 people, breaking all previous attendance records.
The success of Fernandez's recording career boosted his chances for success in the United States, where he has performed many concerts. Recently, Fernandez announced that he planned to open a mariachi theme casino in Las Vegas called Guadalajara, Guadalajara.
Fernandez remains very active in his 60's, playing to large crowds and having an ample discography that makes him one of Latin music's highest-grossing artists.
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