Bronze statue of Rigo Tovar in Matamoros, Mexico
|Birth name||Rigoberto Tovar García|
|Born||March 29, 1946|
|Origin||Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico|
|Died||March 27, 2005 (aged 58)|
|Genres||Mexican, cumbia, Latin, Tejano/Tex-Mex, rock, soul/R&B|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, musician, songwriter, actor|
|Years active||1960s – 2005|
|Labels||Ariola, Discos Nova Vox, Laser, Melody, Musivisa, Profono Internacional|
Rigoberto Tovar García (March 29, 1946 – March 27, 2005) was a Mexican singer best known as Rigo Tovar. Famous for his cumbias, Tovar infused traditional Mexican and Latin music with modern instruments like the electric guitar and synthesizer and popular styles such as rock and soul music.
Tovar was born and raised in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. After moving to Houston, Texas, his musical career began to take off in the early 1970s. Blending cumbia, tropical, and modern pop rock, he quickly gained a large following. In 1971, Tovar released his first album entitled Matamoros Querido which garnered two hits, "Matamoros Querido" and "Lamento De Amor".
During his career, Tovar broke several attendance records in Mexico and throughout Latin America (many of which still stand to this day), sold over 30 million albums, and continues to influence countless artists of all genres.
Early career and success
Through extensive radio play and touring in Mexico and the United States, Tovar achieved great popularity and success. At the height of his fame, he was known as "El Ídolo de México" (Mexico's Idol) and "El Ídolo de las multitudes" (The Idol of the Masses). The release of the 1976 album, Amor y Cumbia catapulted him to superstar status not only in Mexico but many other areas of Latin America as well as the United States. His adoring public coined the phrase "Rigo es Amor" which is translated in English as "Rigo is Love". This was attributed to the love songs he performed and the passion he poured into them. His music, voice and image were so endearing to so many that he became the living embodiment of love. It was routinely yelled out at his concerts and is still used when people speak of him.
Tovar's other hits include "La Sirenita", "¡Oh, Qué Gusto De Volverte A Ver!", and "Perdóname Mi Amor Por Ser Tan Guapo". He was most successful in the 1970s and 1980s and retired in the late 1990s; however, his music remains popular today. Tovar's musical group, El Conjunto Costa Azul, has gone through numerous line-up changes over the years and is still active today.
"Bigger Than The Pope"
In 1979, Tovar broke the 300,000-person attendance record set in Monterrey, Mexico, earlier that year by Pope John Paul II when the artist performed a free concert at the Santa Catarina River which drew 400,000 concertgoers. Some newspapers reporting on the new attendance record even ran headlines declaring that Tovar was "bigger than the Pope".
Tovar also starred in several movies including Vivir Para Amar (1980), Rigo Es Amor (1980), and El Gran Triunfo (1981).
Tovar's life was as full of tragedy and controversy as that of success and fortune. He was born and grew up in extreme poverty in a large family where food was scarce and living conditions were extreme. He lost his mother, with whom he had a very close relationship, when his singing career started to ascend. The relationship with his father was tense and difficult, and although several of his brothers were in the band at the beginning; they left as Tovar started gaining all the attention. The one brother who stayed was Everardo Tovar who became his manager.
Tovar suffered from retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition for which there is no current medical treatment and the reason for his constant use of dark sunglasses. He started losing his sight in his mid-20s and eventually went blind.
He also suffered from vitiligo, a skin condition where loss of pigmentation causes patches of light skin to appear on the body. His brother, Everardo Tovar, died in the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. In addition to retinitis pigmentosa and vitiligo, the singer also suffered from diabetes.
A few days shy of his 59th birthday, Tovar died on March 27, 2005, from diabetic complications leading to cardio-respiratory failure. His funeral was held behind closed doors in a notable funeral home located in Mexico City, but fans and some members of his large family entered the funeral service by force. Tovar was cremated and his ashes were thrown onto one of Matamoros' beaches per his wishes.
In honor of his legacy, Tovar's hometown of Matamoros, Mexico, renamed a main avenue located in the northwest part of the city, Avenida Rigo Tovar.
- 1972: Matamoros Querido
- 1973: Cómo Será La Mujer
- 1974: En La Cumbre
- 1975: En Acción
- 1975: Te Quiero Dijiste...
- 1976: Rigo Tovar Y Su Conjunto Costa Azul
- 1976: Amor Y Cumbia
- 1977: Dos Tardes De Mi Vida
- 1978: ¡Oh, Qué Gusto De Volverte A Ver!
- 1979: Con Mariachi Vol. 1
- 1979: Reflexiona
- 1980: Rigo Tovar En Vivo
- 1980: Con Mariachi Vol. 2
- 1980: Rigo Rock
- 1981: Rigo '81
- 1982: 10 Años Tropicalísimo
- 1982: Sublime Y Bohemio
- 1983: Con Mariachi Vol. 3
- 1984: De Nuevo En Contacto Musical
- 1985: El Músico Chiflado
- 1986: Quítate La Máscara
- 1989: Baila Mi Ritmo
- 1989: La Fiera
- 1989: Los Últimos Exitos De Rigo Tovar
- 1990: El Ritmo Del Sirenito
- 1990: El Sirenito
- 1993: Rigo El Guapo
- 1994: Éxitos Con Banda Vol 1
- 1994: Exitos Con Banda Vol 2
- 2003: Sigue Bailando Mi Ritmo
- 2005: La Historia De Un Ídolo
- 2006: Mi Tinajita Y Muchos Éxitos Más...
- "Matamoros Querido"
- "Lamento De Amor" - Number-one hit in Mexico
- "Recordando Monterrey"
- "Enamorado De Verdad"
- "Como Sera La Mujer"
- "Pajarillo Montañero"
- "Me Quiero Casar"
- "El Testamento"
- "La Sirenita"
- "Amor Libre"
- "¡Oh,Qué Gusto De Volverte A Ver!"
- "Mi Amiga, Mi Esposa y Mi Amante"
- "Cuando Tu Cariño"
- Rigo Tovar on Internet Movie Database
- Houston Press Blog Article 
- Rigo Tovar Fans
- Museum of Rigo Tovar in Internet