It was said that his was a story of «success and self-improvement», of a man passionate about music who became one of latin America’s most famous singers.
José Rómulo Sosa Ortiz, better known as José José, died this Saturday at the age of 71 in Florida, USA, from health complications caused by pancreatic cancer.
The news was confirmed by relatives such as his son José Joel, who posted a black crepe on his social media; and by the Culture Secretariat of the government of Mexico, which lamented the death of those who described as «one of Mexico’s most beloved voices».
The singer, who was born in Mexico City on February 17, 1948, was also an author, actor and music producer.
José Rómulo grew up in a musical family. His father was José Sosa Esquivel, an opera tenor, and his mother the concert pianist Margarita Ortiz Pensado.
She began her musical career playing guitar and singing serenades when she was 15, after forming a trio with a cousin and a friend.
Ballads and not rock
It was the ’60s, when Elvis Presley and the Beatles were on Mexican radio. But Joseph Joseph never wanted to adopt those rhythms. His thing was the romantic ballads, which he performed in nightclubs.
In his first performances he used the stage name Pepe Sosa and with that name he recorded two singles that did not have much repercussions.
In 1969, when he obtained a recording contract with the world label RCA Victor, he adopted the pseudonym José José, in honor of his father who had died a year earlier victim of alcoholism.
And with that name he released his first major hit: La Nave del Olvido, written by the Argentine composer Dino Ramos.
But perhaps the song that brought him to fame was Roberto Cantoral’s El Triste, which he presented in March 1970 at the Latin Song Festival in Mexico City and whose performance was rated as extraordinary.
José José had a musical career that spanned nearly five decades.
Throughout the 1970s, José José continued to obtain great hits, not only in Mexico but in the rest of Latin America, with songs such as Es Que Te Quiero, Todo es Amor and El Príncipe, for which he was christened «The Prince of Song».
In April 1970 he received his first Gold Record in Los Angeles. And also in this decade he dabbled in acting in films such as «Looking for a Smile» and «A Dream of Love».
With fame and success also came the health problems that led him to be admitted to hospitals on numerous occasions to detox from drug and alcohol abuse.
But José José continued to cultivate successafter signing a new contract with the ariosa record company (now Sony-BMC).
Under this label his success was consolidated to record some of his best known songs: Gavilán or Paloma, Buenos Días Amor, Lo Pasado Pasado, Si Me Dejas Ahora, and Amar y Querer.
It was a time when he collaborated with the renowned composers Rafael Pérez Botija, Adam Torres, and the singer-songwriters Camilo Sesto and Juan Gabriel, among others.
The Mexican singer was nominated nine times for a Grammy Award. In 2013 he received the special award «Latins of Today» for 50 years of music that was presented by the OneLegacy Foundation in Los Angeles.
José José’s rise continued during the 1980s when he recorded what many critics claim is the best album of his career: Secrets.
Recorded in Spain in 1983, the album was produced and composed by Manuel Alejandro and was the first album for which a video was produced for each song.
Secretos was nominated for Best Latin Pop Performer at the 1985 Grammy Awards, the first of nine nominations by the singer for consecutive years, and has sold more than 7 million copies.
Joseph Joseph had three wives and three children. In 1970 he married Natalia «Kiki» Herrera Calles, the granddaughter of former Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles, who was 20 years his senior. The marriage lasted five years.
Shortly after divorcing, José José married Ana Elena Noreña, an actress and TV presenter known as Anel, from whom she divorced in 1991. With her he had two sons, José Francisco and Marysol Estrella.
The singer later told The magazine Selects that in 1985 he had had a «serious personal crisis» because he «had spent his life on planes, tour buses and hotel rooms».
He also admitted that he had started drinking at the age of 15 when his father, who was an alcoholic, abandoned them.
José José and his third wife Sara Salazar, whom he married in 1995.
He stated that as a result of his alcoholism he had developed an addiction to cocaine. In 2010 he told the Diario Las Américas that it was because he was «fragile, innocent, ignorant, weak will and incapable of saying no.»
His battle with alcoholism lasted for decades. As he told Selections, after divorcing Anel he «reached his lowest point,» but indicated that with the help of his friends and family he decided to enter a rehabilitation clinic.
In 1995 he married the Cuban Sara Salazar, with whom he had a daughter, and with whom he lived at the time of his death.
Since the mid-1990s, although his hits and money continued to accumulate, it became clear that the singer had serious voice problems.
Still, he continued to record albums and obtain multiple gold and platinum records during the 2000s.
In March 2017, she posted a video in which she told her followers that she was suffering from pancreatic cancer and was being treated.
That same year his family disclosed that he had undergone surgery to remove the tumor and that he was recovering at home.
But the singer was again hospitalized as an emergency in February 2018 (days before his 70th birthday) in Miami, where he had lived with his wife for several years.
His last Twitter message, posted on June 10, was a thank you to all the supporters who supported him during his illness.