Armando Manzanero, one of Latin America’s most influential and prolific songwriters, died on December 28, according to CNN. He was 85, and had been hospitalized earlier in the month after testing positive for COVID-19. His family told Mexican newspaper El Universal that he was set to be extubated in the coming days, after his lung health had improved, but he then died by cardiac arrest. Manzanero had written over 600 songs in his lifetime, according to the Mexican Society of Authors and Composers, which he served as president of until his death. His songs have been performed by icons of Latin music like Luis Miguel, along with singers including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Dionne Warwick, and Andrea Bocelli. He was integral to Luis Miguel’s iconic Romance album series, writing many of the songs and serving as music director across the projects. He also recorded music of his own, and won a Latin Grammy for his duets album Duetos.
Manzanero’s impact on Latin music, especially romantic “bolero” songs, was widely recognized during his lifetime. He received Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the Latin Grammys in 2010 and the Grammys in 2014. Earlier this year, the Billboard Latin Music Awards recognized him with a Lifetime Achievement Award, with musicians including Luis Fonsi and Pablo Alborán performing a medley of hits as Manzanero accompanied on piano.
In a statement written in Spanish, the Society for Authors and Composers said, “The romantic soul of Mexico and the world is in mourning,” according to Billboard’s translation. The Latin Recording Academy, which awards the Latin Grammys, called Manzanero’s death “an irreparable loss for the world of Latin music.” And Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, addressed Manzanero’s death during a press conference, per CNN. “Armando Manzanero was a sensitive man, a man of the people. That’s why I lament his death,” he said. “He was also a great composer.”