To the uninitiated, masculine Mexican singers are all variations on the same theme of either mariachi music or ranchera – a particular style of singing and performing that pays homage to the frontier past of Mexico and its famous charro cowboys.
Even though those roots are strong in much of Mexican music, you’d be mistaken if you thought that’s all there is to male vocal performers from Mexico.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at 15 of the greatest and most famous Mexican male singers of all time. Let’s get started.
1. Luis Miguel
First we have Luis Miguel who is a relative newcomer to the Mexican music scene. But, his records have sold more than 60 million copies.
Combining equal parts of charisma, good looks, and a constant presence on the touring scene, his powerful voice and heartthrob status position him near the top of any list of popular Mexican singers.
Known as the “Sun of Mexico” he is one of the top Hispanic performers in history with his tours grossing nearly $300 million in ticket sales.
He was briefly hospitalized in 2010, and his romantic relationships and personal life are the subjects of intense media curiosity.
Related: Read our post about the greatest Hispanic singers here.
2. Vicente Fernández
Next, we have Vicente Fernández who has enjoyed a long career, cementing himself as not just a celebrated Mexican singer but the world’s most famous charro.
With more than 50 million copies of his records sold, he is the image many see in their mind when they picture a Mexican cowboy and is synonymous with Ranchera Music.
With seven Latin Grammys, an American Grammy, and countless accolades and fans, Fernández is one of the most easily identified Mexican singers of all time.
3. Juan Gabriel
Juan Gabriel died at the age of 66, and he performed his extensive catalog of songs to sold-out crowds right up until the end.
Gabriel was a celebrated singer and talented performer in his own right but also enjoyed success producing records for others.
His collaborations and production efforts included work with Lucha Villa, Rocio Durcal, and Paul Anka.
Even singer Marc Anthony has covered Gabriel’s songs, and the group Son del Son has two full albums of Gabriel’s cover songs.
Gabriel was the youngest of ten children, and his humble roots were often part of the appeal of his songs. For instance, his first recording was “No Tengo Dinero” (I Have No Money) in 1971.
But, he eventually rose to fame and accumulated a fortune, even purchasing the mansion in Juarez where his mother had once worked as a housekeeper during his youth.
4. Armando Manzanero Canché
While the next singer on our list Armando Manzanero is more famous for his songwriting than his singing, he was an accomplished crooner in his own right.
He wrote and was the original performer of the famous bolero “Somos Novios,” a song that has been recorded and reworked by performers worldwide. Perry Como’s English version, “It’s Impossible,” was a top-10 hit in both the United Kingdom and the US.
Born in Ticul, Yucatan, in the mid-1930s, Manzanero was from a musical family, and he entered the world of professional singing and songwriting by the age of only fifteen.
Despite his youth, his first song, “Nunca en el Mundo” has been recorded in more than 20 languages.
He is the winner of countless awards and was inducted into the Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2003.
It’s said that without Manzanero, there is no Luis Miguel, as he penned many of the latter’s top hits. He died of COVID-19 in 2020 at the age of 85.
5. Pedro Infante
Pedro Infante is one of the most famous Mexican performers of all time. He was multi-talented and enjoyed success as a ranchera singer and actor.
Though his life was cut short in a plane crash, he had already starred in more than sixty films and recorded nearly 400 songs.
His musical talent spanned genres, making him a star across Latin America and the world.
The only song he ever recorded in English, “Besame Mucho,” has also been recorded by current mega-stars like Andrea Bocelli. He wasn’t the original composer, but he helped spread the melody around the world to global audiences.
His death is the subject of many conspiracy theories, with some claiming that he is still alive and living in hiding to avoid the paparazzi. People still flock to his statues across Mexico and his shrine in Mexico City.
6. Jorge Negrete
Jorge Negrete grew up in Mexico City, the son of a former Mexican Army Colonel. The younger Negrete also saw military service, and that is where he discovered his musical talent.
He honed his performing talent and recorded several operas in the United States under the name Alberto Moreno. It was through these early forays into show business that he developed relationships that would lead to a successful career in film and music.
He was also known as one of the ‘Tres Gallos Mexicanos,’ or ‘Three Mexican Roosters,’ a trio including himself, Pedro Infante, and Javier Solís.
Negrete died of liver disease when he was only 42 years old. However, he left a prominent mark on Mexican music and film, and fans still make an annual pilgrimage to visit his grave and pay tribute to the man who was known as the singing cowboy.
7. Javier Solís
Next, we have singer Javier Solís who was born Gabriel Siria Levario, in 1931 in Mexico City.
He had an extremely turbulent childhood, and he dropped out of school to begin earning money for his family at a very young age. He worked as a bottle collector, baker, butcher, car washer, and carpenter and trained as a boxer. But, it was his natural gift for singing that led him to worldwide fame.
During his career, he performed traditional Mexican music, and as he branched out, by the late 1950s, he was considered a pioneer of the bolero-ranchera style. His musical success led to a film career appearing in more than twenty films.
Unfortunately, at the age of only 34, the last surviving member of the ‘Tres Gallos Mexicanos’ passed away from gallbladder complications. In the years prior to his death, he had 12 number one hits.
8. Chalino Sánchez
The next male vocalist on our list had a career that took him in quite a different direction from the others. Chalino Sánchez started life on a small ranch in Sinaloa. Known as Rosalino Sánchez Félix, he grew up the youngest of seven children.
He was no stranger to violence and allegedly committed a murder avenging the rape of his sister in 1977.
Fleeing Mexico for the United States, now as Chalino, he worked menial jobs and lived a life that often crossed into illegality.
When his brother was killed in 1984, Sánchez composed his first song, a corrido, or ballad. He sold his first recordings personally, vending cassette tapes out of the trunk of his car.
He began to collaborate with other immigrants on the creation of budget recordings and helped to pioneer the ‘corrido prohibido’ style of music that glamorized the lifestyle of drug smugglers.
His connections to the violent world of smuggling led to a famous shoot-out on stage, which he survived. Eventually, his kidnapping and execution-style murder were by suspected narco-traffickers.
9. Joan Sebastian
Joan Sebastian’s music has a distinctively modern edge, and it’s considered a pioneering sound that bridges the gap between traditional Mexican music and the tunes on today’s airwaves.
In his early life, he was a priest in seminary before pursuing a career as a singer and songwriter.
He signed his first recording contract in 1977 but had a long ramp to follow before he enjoyed widespread fame or success.
Though he had an early hit with his song “Juliantla,” it wasn’t until the 2000s that he released Secreto de Amor, an album that went quadruple platinum in the United States.
He’s a member of the Latin Music Hall of Fame, and his musical catalog is revered by his legion of fans.
10. José José
José José was born José Rómulo Sosa Ortiz in Mexico City. He spent his teenage years serenading the local females and honing his guitar-playing skills.
He received early recognition for his impressive vocal talents and skills on the guitar and bass, and his debut performance of Mexican composer Roberto Cantoral’s “El Triste” in 1970 was a springboard for incredible success.
That success reached its pinnacle when his 1983 album Secretos sold 25 million copies, and he started selling out venues like New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Unfortunately, his life was marked by struggles with alcoholism and resulting diseases, though he was a prodigious recorder and beloved performer and has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
11. Ariel Camacho
Our next singer Ariel Camacho tragically lost his life in a car accident when he was only 22 years old. Despite his youth, he’d already won fortune and fame as a singer.
More than 40,000 people attended his small band’s first concert in Tijuana. His second band, Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes del Rancho, consisted of a lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and tuba, a distinctive arrangement with a unique sound.
Though he was only active for a few short years, he left an indelible mark on the modern Mexican music scene and received accolades for blending traditional sounds with more contemporary music.
12. Cristian Castro
Cristian Castro has enjoyed success spanning three decades as a Mexican pop singer.
He has received Grammy nominations, performed on television series, and his eclectic musical tastes translate into a diverse catalog of songs in a range of styles.
He counts José José as one of his prime singing influences but lists bands like Pink Floyd and Tool as strong influences on his overall sound.
He has more than a dozen solo albums to his name and an extensive list of collaborations with other artists.
13. José Alfredo Jiménez
Famous ranchera singer José Alfredo Jiménez died at the age of 47. But, in the course of his relatively short life, he penned more than 1,000 songs, earning him the title of “El Rey” or “the King” of ranchera music.
His earliest compositions were recorded by Miguel Aceves Mejia, another fairly well-known Mexican singer. But many of Jimenez’s other songs have been recorded by dozens of Mexican artists.
Though his last performance was in 1973, he was recognized for his prolific songwriting when he was awarded the Latin Grammy for Album of the Year in 2018.
The album’s star, Luis Miguel, performed six Jimenez tracks on the record.
14. Ramón Ayala
Ramón Ayala has had a hand in producing more than 100 albums. His impoverished childhood saw him working as a shoeshine boy and learning to play the accordion from his father.
His lessons started when he was only five, and his talent was recognized by a performer in a local cantina in his hometown of Reynosa.
His musical talents have seen him paired with various performing partners and bands over the years, but always with an ability to evoke the emotions and feelings of traditional Mexican life along the Rio Grande.
His music is exceptionally popular even in countries where the population does not speak Spanish, evidence of his widespread musical appeal.
15. José Guadalupe Esparza
José Guadalupe Esparza is most famous for his role as the lead singer and frontman of the Mexican band, Bronco.
Their international hit, Que No Quede Huella (May No Traces Be Left), launched their first tour and eventually led to an appearance on Dos Mujeres, un Camino, a successful telenovela in Mexico.
The band also recorded the show’s opening theme, bringing them even greater levels of familiarity with wider audiences across Latin America.
The band broke up and reunited, always with Esparza in the lead position and lending his vocal talents to their distinct sound, blending traditional themes and melodies with pop styling and techniques.
Summing Up Our List Of Famous Male Singers From Mexico
We hope you enjoyed reading about these male vocalists. Did you learn about someone new?
As you can see, many many of them have crossed over into mainstream appeal in America. They’ve helped to popularize music like boleros, mariachi, and Mexican ballads with the large audience living just across the Rio Grande to the country’s north.
Do you think we’ve left someone off this list that should be included? Let us know and we’ll add them in!