Vicente Fernández, the Mexican singer, actor and cultural icon who died in December at age 81, could have a street in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights neighborhood named after him.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de León introduced a motion at the end of Wednesday’s council meeting to rename Bailey Street between First Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in honor of the man known as El Rey, the king of ranchera.
“Unfortunately, with the council in recess in December, we didn’t have an opportunity to recognize this cultural icon, whose music and talent impacted generations of Latinos, not only in his native homeland of Mexico, but across the globe,” De León said as he moved to adjourn Wednesday’s meeting in Fernandez’s honor as well.
For those unfamiliar with the performer, De León likened Fernández to Frank Sinatra. His awards and accolades are too numerous to mention,” the politician said, invoking Fernández’s multiple Grammys and Latin Grammys as well as his star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
“His legacy is not only the music that he made,” the councilman said, “but the memories we all were able to make listening to the music he created and shared with us.”
After making the motion to rename the street, De León delivered his message in Spanish, calling Fernández the “jefe de jefes.” He also noted that Los Angeles is the city with the second-largest Mexican population in the world, following only Mexico City and ahead of Guadalajara and Tijuana.
The street under renaming consideration is to the east of Los Angeles’ Mariachi Plaza, a community hub where mariachi musicians have traditionally gathered to seek work. The plaza marked its 30th anniversary with a celebration in 2019.
Surrounded by the I-5, I-10 and 101 freeways amid the East L.A. interchange, Mariachi Plaza is north of First Street, between North Boyle Avenue and Bailey Street, in a part of the city that has been majority Latino for decades.
The performer nicknamed Chente fell at his ranch in the Mexican state of Jalisco and injured his spine in August, and when his death came months later it was the end of an era.
Fans headed to Mariachi Plaza when Fern´ández died, knowing others would gather in that spot.
Musician Sergio Olvera told The Times in December that he was grateful to Fernández. For a few hundred dollars an hour, he said, a mariachi band like his could be hired to play covers of Fernández’s songs for birthdays and weddings.
“Vicente Fernández has given us a lot of work,” Olvera said, adding, “He was a fighter. A tireless fighter for his profession.”
Times staff writer Paloma Esquivel contributed to this report.