January 21, 2018 / 3:42 PM

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Manolo Escobar, one of Spain's best-selling vocalists, dies

Manolo Escobar, a Spanish vocalist who saw his country through the best of times and often the worst of times, died Thursday at his home in Benidorm on the Spanish coast. Although the Culture Ministry announced his death, it did not give any cause. However, Escobar had cancelled the final dates on his official farewell tour in recent months, due to his weakness from cancer. He was 82.

Escobar's main claim to fame in his homeland is his song "Y Viva Espana," which came to prominence in 1973, amidst the outgoing years of the Francisco Franco regime. The country began shifting to democracy following Franco's death in 1975, and although Escobar didn't necessarily mean for the song to take a particular political meaning, it was considered an anthem for the hopeful future of Spain as it switched to a more free form of government.

"Y Viva Espana" sold more than six million copies, making it the best-selling Spanish record between 1973 and 1992. The song continues to be a patriotic anthem for the nation, and Escobar performed it in Madrid with the national soccer team following its victory during the World Cup.

Escobar had seen a fair share of difficult times during his life, mostly thanks to the Franco regime. He grew up amidst the violent Spanish Civil War, performing with his brothers all the while. He said in a previous interview that helping people escape from their personal difficulties was his goal when he wrote music.

Spain's Culture Minister Jose Ignacio referred to him as a "fundamental reference of popular Spanish music."

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