Alejandro Fernández on What He Admires Most About 'Living Legend' Father Vicente on 80th Birthday (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for LARAS
Vicente Fernández is celebrating a milestone birthday.
El Rey de la Música Ranchera turned 80 on Monday, and is set to enjoy his time with his family and closest friends.
"We're going to be celebrating him," Alejandro Fernández tells ET of his family's plans for his father's special day. "Unfortunately, I won't be able to be there. I'm very sad because I would have loved to be there with him. But the family is going to get together. It will be something small with all the family. It's going to be something intimate."
While that may be the plans for Vicente's birthday, the "A Mi Manera" singer kicked off festivities on Feb. 14 with an event as his Tres Potrillos ranch in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he interacted with fans, friends and press, while also promoting his new tequila brand.
Beloved by his entire country and generations upon generations of Latinxs around the world, you would be hard pressed to find another artist like Vicente. The cultural icon knew since he was a child that he wanted to become a performer, picking up the guitar and competing in music festivals until he finally devoted himself to music in the '60s. Vicente has since recorded over 50 albums, starred in more than 30 films, been honored with a slew of recognitions and GRAMMY Awards, cementing himself as a major part of Mexican culture.
"He's the greatest contributor to Mexican music," Alejandro -- who recently released his new album, Hecho En México, which includes a duet with Vicente -- says of what his father symbolizes to the people in Mexico. "He's a living legend and idol and, for me, he's the ultimate artist."
"He's an extension of Mexico, that's how I see him," the 48-year-old "Caballero" singer adds. "For me, he's my teacher and my mentor. It's tough because it goes further than seeing him an artist. Obviously, there are a lot of personal reasons why I admire my father that outshine just seeing him as a professional and artist."
He's a "mega, mega, mega professional," he also notes.
Additionally, Kate del Castillo -- whose family has been longtime friends with the Fernández clan -- tells ET that Vicente means "everything" to the people in Mexico.
"He symbolizes Mexico. He's an icon. I don't think anyone sings like him, I don't think any one has done what he's done with Mexican music and for so long," she explains. "He's been in the spotlight his entire life and not only the music, all the movies that he’s done [are classics]."
Vicente's song, "Me Voy a Quitar de en Medio," was the main song for del Castillo's 1998 telenovela, La Mentira, and is one that will forever be among her favorites.
"I love that song and it was such a hit, the telenovela, that I will always remember that song and it brings back so many beautiful recuerdos," del Castillo expresses. "I love it and he was adorable, and he and my dad [actor Eric del Castillo] are good friends. I wish him the best. I didn't know he was going to be 80, he looks amazing!"
Narcos: Mexico star Teresa Ruiz's favorite Vicente song and one she adores is "Mujeres Divinas."
"To me, [Vicente] symbolizes the folk and the soul of how deeply -- or yeah, maybe for the people of Mexico too, how deeply we can feel pain and enjoy it over tequila," she explains to ET. "I think it's an incredibly Mexican thing to do, if you know what I mean, to be heartbroken and enjoy it and drink on it (laughs)."