Rodolfo “Fito” Olivares, the cumbia legend behind quinceañera dancefloor hits including “Juana La Cubana” and “El Colesterol” with his band Grupo La Pura Sabrosura, died Friday at age 75 after battling cancer, his wife Griselda confirmed to the Associated Press.
The musician died at his home in Houston after being diagnosed with cancer last year. It’s unclear what type of cancer he was battling. He’s survived by his children Rodolfo, Alexandra, and Juan Pablo. “They played [his] music all over the world,” his wife Griselda told the AP.
Alongside his band, the musician was responsible for songs like “Juana La Cubana,” “El Colesterol,” “Agüita de Melón,” and “Cumbia de la Cobra,” a classic that recently went viral on TikTok. His cumbias were known for their distinct use of the saxophone. He also played the accordion.
The singer was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, in 1947 and made music for more than five decades. He penned his first song, “Ya No Eres Mía,” at age 16 when he formed his band alongside his brothers Javier y Jaime, according to Univisión.
Following his death, norteño musician Ramón Ayala shared a tribute to Olivares, whom he described as “the king of cumbias” on Instagram.
“Thank you for your music, your efforts, and your professionalism on stage. La Pura Sabrosura with your saxophone rhythm is already delighting God in heaven,” Ayala wrote. “From king to king, rest in peace, my brother.”
Duranguense group Montez de Durango also shared a touching post in remembrance. “An idol of cumbias has died. We’ve always said that no dance without the rhythm of Fito Olivares has a pulse,” the group wrote. “His music and incomparable sound will live forever in those who love to dance.”
A longtime Texas resident, Olivares was also remembered by the Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who described Olivares as a “legend we all grew up with” in a tweet. “Thank you for the music,” he wrote.