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José Rómulo Sosa Ortiz better known as José José, author and musical producer, was born in Ciudad México on February 17, 1948. His family was a musical family, his father José Sosa Esquivel was an opera tenor and his mother, Margarita Ortiz Pensado, was a concert pianist.

José José began his career singing jazz and bossanova. He started off using the stage name Pepe Sosa, but his first shows were not successful.  In 1967 he managed to sign a recording contract with the recording studio Orfeón.  From 1969 to 1976 he recorded under the RCA Victor label.  At this time was when he began to use the name José José in honor of his father who had passed away the year prior due to issues with alcoholism. His first hit was La Nave del Olvido. But the song that would catapult him to fame was El Triste by Roberto Cantoral. In March of 1970 in Mexico José José preformed that song at El Festival de La Canción Latina. Even today he holds the distinction of having had the judges give him a standing ovation and having the crowds throw roses at him even though he only received third place. After all, he had impressed everyone there by being able to hold a note for 30 seconds! 

The Prínce of Songs, he received a Gold Record in the 70s in Los Angeles, his first, and he made movies searching for a smile and a Sueño de Amor (Dream of Love) among many others.   José José despite being a famous and successful artist never hid from his past where he admitted to having been hospitalized upon occasion to deal with problems rising from drug use, alcoholism, Lyme disease and facial paralysis.   

He continued producing hits like Gavilán o Paloma, Amar y Querer, and Si me Dejas Ahora. He worked with many different composers like Rafael Perez Botija, Juan Gabriel, Camilo Sesto, Armando Manzanero, and many more. He sang alongside many stars such as Julio Iglesias, Alejandro Fernandez, David Bisbal, Gloria Estefan, Cristian Castro, Alejandra Guzmán, Yuri, Alejandro Sanz, Luis Fonsi, Chayanne, Paul Anka and more.

From 1977 to 1988 after signing on with Ariola Records he recorded a secret album in Spain which was produced by Spanish composer Alejandro. This secret album was considered to be his best recording in 1983 and sold over 4 million copies. By the end of 1984 the album had sold a total of 7 million copies. It received Gold and Platinum awards and was nominated for a Grammy under the Best Latin Pop category in 1985. José José received several Grammy nominations through the years. Then from 1989 to 2001 he signed with the recording studio BMG. 

In 2004 he received a Grammy for Musical Excellence and in 2005 he was awarded Person of the Year. He was awarded his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California. He had over 100 Gold and Platinum albums and sold millions and millions of records over the course of four decades. In 2007 he won an award for Best Actor for his role in Betty La Fea. In 2008 he recorded with Greek recording artista Yanni. In 2010 he released José José Ranchero with some of his greatest hits recorded with a Mexican sound and accompanied by Mariachis. That same year he released a fragranced that bore his name and all the proceeds went to benefit women and children living with Aids. In 2011 he was set to release an album written by Armando Manzanero “Que Viva Mi Tristeza” but it was never completed due to some vocal problems he was having. In 2012, celebrating his 50 year career, José José gave a concert at the Miami Hard Rock which became his final performance. In 2017 he was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.

Music critic and newspaper writer Luis T. Pardo interviewed him at his home on Key Biscayne and on some other occasions for Calle Ocho News and other international publications. The Prince of Songs passed away Saturday, September 28, 2019 at a hospital in Homestead Fl. due to the pancreatic cancer and days before he would be honored by the Composers Hall of Fame with an award for The Living Legend during the seventh edition of The Musa Awards which will take place in Miami on October 24, 2019 at the James L. Knight Center.  José José always a great gentleman and friend has left us his music and his love. 

 

Eddy Rios

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