Roberto Cantoral García (7 June 1935 – 7 August 2010) was a Mexican composer, singer and songwriter. He was known for composing a string of hit Mexican songs, including “El Triste”, “Al Final”, “La Barca” and “El Reloj” The Sociedad de Autores y Compositores de México (English: Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico) estimated that “La Barca” and “El Reloj” have been recorded over 1,000 times by other artists like Plácido Domingo, Gualberto Castro, José José, Luis Miguel, Joan Báez and Linda Ronstadt. In 2009, he won the Latin Grammy Trustee Award. Iconos, which was released by Marc Anthony in 2010, featured “El Triste”.
Roberto Cantoral Garcia was born on 7 June 1935 in Ciudad Madero, Tamaulipas. From an early age, he showed an ability for music and its composition. Cantoral moved to Mexico City to attend college but dropped out to become a band leader.
In 1950, Roberto Cantoral formed the Hermanos Cantoral (English: Cantoral Brothers) with Antonio Cantoral. The duo recorded “El preso número 9” (English: Prisoner Number 9) and “El crucifijo de piedra” (English: The Crucifix of Stone). The duo ended in 1954 with Antonio’s death and Roberto formed Los Tres Caballeros (English: The Three Knights) with Chamin Correa and Leonel Gálvez who performed during Mexico’s era of romantic music and traveled to Japan, Argentina and the United States.
In 1960, Roberto Cantoral went solo and achieved international fame for “Al final”, “Noche no te vayas”, “Regálame esta noche” and “Yo lo comprendo” (English: The End, Night [Don’t You] Go, Give me the Night, and I Understand). In 1970, he wrote the ballad “El Triste” (English: The Sad One) by José José. In 1971, he won the OTI Festival with “Yo no voy a la guerra” (English: I’m not going to the War) and in 1973 for “Quijote”. Cantoral donated the proceeds from “Pobre navidad” (English: Poor Christmas) to worldwide children institutions such as UNICEF and his song, “Plegaria de paz” (English: Prayer of Peace) was broadcast “three consecutive years at the Vatican”. Cantoral composed themes for El derecho de nacer, Paloma and Pacto de amor.
In 1982, Roberto Cantoral was elected as Sociedad de Autores y Compositores de México’s Chairman of the Board for his first term.
During his lifetime, Cantoral received many awards. He received medals of merit from Adolfo López Mateos and Josip Broz Tito. In 1969, Cantoral won la presea Diana Cazadora and premio Cuauhtémoc de Oro (English: Diana the Huntress award and Cuauhtémoc Gold prize). He won three gold records for “El Reloj”, “La Barca” and “El Triste”.
Cantoral resided in Rancho Viejo, Texas, just across the border from Mexico. His home, which suffered a fire in 2006 but was renovated, features a large marble clock in honor of his song, El Reloj, and several statues.
Cantoral was married to Itatí Zucchi and was the father of Mexican actress Itatí Cantoral, the co-star of the Televisa television series Hasta Que El Dinero Nos Separe. Roberto Cantoral had three sons, Carlos, Roberto and José, with Zucchi.
In 2010, Cantoral died after suffering a heart attack on a flight from Brownsville, Texas, to Mexico City. The plane made an emergency landing in Toluca, Mexico, where Cantoral was pronounced dead at the age of 75. His body was placed on public view at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.Cantoral’s ashes were scattered in his hometown, Tampico, Tamaulipas.