Mexican balladeer Armando Manzanero dies at 85

FILE PHOTO: Mexican singer Manzanero shows his new album during a news conference in Mexico City
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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican singer-songwriter Armando Manzanero, famed for his romantic ballads that were sung by an array of international stars, has died, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday. He was 85.

During a seven-decade career, Manzanero won a Grammy, recorded dozens of albums, scored numerous films and composed more than 400 songs, including "Somos novios" (We're lovers) and "Contigo aprendi" (With you, I learned).

Lopez Obrador, who announced Manzanero's death during a regular news conference, expressed great regret at his passing, and brought the media gathering to a premature end.

Born on December 7, 1935 in Mexico's Yucatan state, Manzanero was hospitalized in December after contracting the coronavirus, his family said. Weekend reports had suggested he was recovering from the virus.

The prolific writer of ballads and boleros began studying music as a child and wrote his first tune at age 15, kicking off a long career that in 2014 made him the first Mexican artist to win a Grammy award.

His hit "We're lovers" made Billboard magazine's list of 50 best songs in the history of Latin music.

Renowned singers Andrea Bocelli, Placido Domingo, Celia Cruz, Vikki Carr, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera are among the many people who performed his works, and the late Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez once called Manzanero "one of the greatest current poets of the Spanish language."

Manzanero recognized his talent for infusing his melodies with romantic longing.

"The best language for love is song," he once said in an interview. "Just as the lungs need air, romance needs a song."

(Reporting by Diego Ore, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Alistair Bell)