Armando-Manzanero In this Aug. 26, 2008 file photo, Mexico's singer and composer Armando Manzanero speaks during a press conference promoting his album "Manzanero Big Band Jazz of Mexico" in Mexico City. The Mexican master of romantic music who penned Spanish-language classics such as “Somos Novios” and “Contigo Aprendí,” has died, according to Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020.
AP Photo/ Denisse Pohls, File

Music artists honored Armando Manzanero, who had recently performed at the 2020 Billboard Latin Music Awards.

Just weeks after Armando Manzanero, the Mexican balladeer, celebrated his 85th birthday, the award-winning songwriter has died. On Monday, Dec. 28, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced the death of Manzanero. 

The direct cause of death could have been a combination of COVID-19 and other underlying health issues. On Dec. 17, Manzanero was hospitalized with COVID-19. On Dec. 23, he was intubated and put on a ventilator. However, his manager, Laura Blum, said he died at a Mexico City hospital of complications from a kidney problem. 

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Manzanero’s last Instagram post was on Dec. 7, his birthday, when he thanked fans for the good wishes. 

“A todos mis amigos, que me dieron el placer de escuchar su felicitación por mi cumpleaños, quiero decirles que amo su gesto, que agradezco con toda mi alma me hayan hecho feliz este día con felicitarme algo que voy a guardar en mi corazón por el resto de mis días. Con amor … Su amigo Manzanero.”

The pandemic did not slow down the iconic songwriter. According to his social media, Manzanero continued working until the very end. On Nov. 22, Manzanero—wearing a face mask on his chin and surrounded by young musicians—posted a video taken in a recording studio. He had also been recording songs and was recently honored with Billboard’s Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2020 Billboard Latin Music Awards. It was there that he performed alongside Luis Fonsi, Joy, Jesús Navarro, and Pablo Alborán. 

Fans and peers paid their respects to Manzanero on social media. Singer Ricky Martin posted on Instagram, “Muy triste con su partida. Se nos fue un rey de la música. Descanse en paz maestro.”

Fonsi, reposted their performance at the 2020 Billboard Latin Music Awards and wrote, “Ese orden perfecto de organizar palabras y acordes. De apretarnos el corazon con sólo piano y voz. Esa sensibilidad única que inspiró, influenció y enamoró a tantas generaciones. Maestro, te nos fuiste pero nos dejas un playlist de canciones que nunca pasarán de moda y que siempre serán parte de nuestra banda sonora de la vida. GRACIAS 🙏🏽 Vuelta alto MAESTRO, y descansa en Paz.”

According to Billboard, Manzanero had written more than 400 songs and was covered by the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Andrea Bocelli, and Luis Miguel. 

During Monday’s press conference, López Obrador praised the Yucatán native as “a great composer, and the country’s best.”

“Besides that, he was a man with sensitivity, on social questions as well,” the president noted.

The president played a video clip of Manzanero singing the song “Adoro,” and appeared so overcome by emotion at the news of his death that he cut short his daily news conference.

“I do not want to continue with this press conference. It ends here,” López Obrador said before playing the clip.

Manzanero was born in Mérida, the capital of Yucatán state, and his ashes will be returned there, Blum said.

He was proud of his roots in the mostly Maya indigenous state, noting, “I am a Mexican of Mayan ancestry, I am a Mayan Indian.”

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In a 2020 interview with The Associated Press, Manzanero expressed pride at how other artists continued to sing songs he wrote decades ago.

“The song I wrote 50 or 60 years ago is still alive,” Manzanero said. “Even flowers don’t live that long.”

He had several ex-wives, seven children, and 16 grandchildren, all of whom survived him.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.