Puerto Rican salsa singer José Feliciano, known as Cheo, has died in a tragic early morning car crash on Thursday at the age of 78, leaving fellow countrymen in shock.
The governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, has declared three days of mourning following the sad news, saying, “Today, Puerto Rico lost one of its greatest voices.”
Cheo Feliciano was one of the best known salsa singers in the world because of his catchy songs, including “Contigo Aprendi,” “Mi Triste Problema,” and “Mi Promesa” among many others.
According to Police officer Jorge Hernandez Pena, Cheo Feliciano was driving his Jaguar alone when he hit a light post in the dawn hours of Thursday, April 17 in the suburb of Cupey.
The reason for the crash is not clear, and Pena said no drugs or alcohol were found in Cheo Feliciano’s car.
A distraught Socorro “Coco” Prieto Leon, Cheo’s wife of 56 years, told reporters that her husband had been at a local casino on Wednesday.
“He was the only man in my life,” a teary Prieto Leon said. “I thank everyone for the love they had for him.”
Those mourning the passing of salsa legend Cheo Feliciano took to social media to offer their condolences and share their feelings:
CHEO MI PANA QUE DOLOR http://t.co/tciiaDGGHv pic.twitter.com/TBI5xyXhuk
— Willie Colón (@williecolon) April 17, 2014
Just heard the sad news about Cheo Feliciano. My sincere condolences to his family and loved ones. Rest in peace Cheo.
— Marc Anthony (@MarcAnthony) April 17, 2014
— Flaco Navaja (@Flaconavaja) April 17, 2014
— Raquel Cepeda (@RaquelCepeda) April 17, 2014
José Luis Feliciano Vega was born on July 3, 1935 in Ponce, Puerto Rico. His nickname, Cheo, came about when he was a child and was used by close friends and family. Later in life it stuck and prevented people confusing him with another Puerto Rican musician, Jose Feliciano, of “Feliz Navidad” fame.
Cheo’s father had a hard time finding work in his native Puerto Rico. When the family moved to New York when Feliciano was a teen, he started performing soon thereafter.
Feliciano’s career covered four decades beginning in the early 1970s and culminated in 2012. He received a Grammy for Excellence in Music at the Latin Grammy Awards in 2008. Cheo is survived by his wife and several children and will be buried in his birth place of Ponce.
[Image via Twitter]