Latin America & Caribbean

Memo Morales, Venezuela pasodoble singer, dies after new year show

Memo Morales Image copyright Instagram
Image caption Memo Morales was 79 when he suffered a fatal heart attack on stage

Venezuelan singer Memo Morales, 79, has died after suffering a heart attack during a New Year's Eve concert in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

Morales, who was popularly known as El Gitano Maracucho (The Gipsy from Maracaibo), became famous for singing songs with a Spanish flair, such as boleros and pasodobles.

He often sang with popular orchestras such as Billo's Caracas Boys.

His most popular song was Ni se compra ni se vende (Neither bought nor sold).

'Pasodoble king'

The singer, whose full name was Guillermo Enrique Morales Portillo, came from a musical family and won his first talent show at the age of eight singing a tango.

At 16, he moved from his home town of Maracaibo to Caracas and started performing regularly.

In 1964, he joined Billo's Caracas Boys, one of the most popular dance orchestras at the time in Venezuela, with which he stayed for 12 years.

It was during this time that he became famous for his renditions of pasodobles such as Que viva Espana (Long live Spain) and Se necesitan dos (It takes two).

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Morales was especially famous for his renditions of Spanish pasodobles

In 1976, he went on a successful solo tour of the United States, singing in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami.

In 1984, he founded his own orchestra along with another Maracaibo native, singer Cheo Garcia. Cheo's and Memo's Great Orchestra stayed together until the death of the former in 1994.

Morales continued to perform with a new orchestra conducted by his son Guillermo and featuring three of his children.

In 2016, Morales was named an honorary citizen of Houston, Texas, for his contribution to music.

On New Year's Eve he performed two concerts.

During the second one, he suffered a heart attack on stage and later died on the way to hospital.

In tributes on Twitter, his friends said he had passed the way he would have wanted to, while performing.

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