Johnny Canales, Legendary Tejano Music Host, Dead at 77

Johnny Canales, the legendary TV host who put Tejano music on the map, has died. He was 77.

In a statement posted Thursday on Facebook, the El Show de Johnny y Nora Canales announced the tragic death. The cause of death was not disclosed. Nora Canales was his wife and co-host.

"With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of Johnny Canales," the statement began. "He was more than just a beloved husband, father, TV host, musician, and entertainer; he was a beacon of hope and joy for countless people. His infectious charisma and dedication to promoting Latino music and culture left a large mark on the world. Johnny's spirit will continue to live on through the countless lives he touched and the legacy he built."

The statement continued, "We thank you all for your kind words, love, and support during this difficult time. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers. Remember him not with sadness, but with the joy and passion he always brought into our lives."

In a May 20 Facebook post, Nora shared in five-minute video that her husband's health had been declining (he suffered a stroke in 2008) but he was under great care. At the time, Nora shared she had been overwhelmed by rumors of his death, but she assured fans he was stable and that he was at home enjoying his downtime watching TV. She added that he was never hospitalized.

Canales' syndicated variety show introduced a myriad of rising Tejano artists to Texas and beyond, including a then-13-year-old Selena Quintanilla and her famous band, Los Dinos.

Canales -- who exuded passion for Tejano music and became known for his catchphrase "You got it! Take it away!" -- was a U.S. Army veteran who was born in Nuevo León, Mexico, before his family moved to nearby Corpus Christi, Texas. It was there where his eponymous half-hour show began in 1983 on KRIS. It wasn't long before Canales' infectious personality helped to expand his show beyond Corpus Christi and to a full-hour show. After it was syndicated in big markets across Texas, the show made its big splash in 1988 when Univision gave it international attention, airing it in more than 20 countries. The show ultimately moved to Univision's rival network, Telemundo, in 1996 before it was canceled in 2005. Canales and his wife revived the show in 2013.

The Johnny Canales Show quickly became a must-stop visit for many rising Tejano artists, including Selena y Los Dinos and La Mafia, among others. The show also offered its platform to Mexican regional superstars, such as Intocable, Ramón Ayala and Los Tigres del Norte.

But it was with Selena y Los Dinos whom Canales -- whose persona and show drew parallels to Dick Clark and American Bandstand -- endeared himself with from the onset. The late superstar was 13 when she made her TV debut in 1985, and the band would go on to make numerous appearances. In fact, Canales' show was portrayed in the Netflix series Selena: The Series, particularly her 1990 appearance in which the band dons cow-print outfits.

According to Tejano Nation, a documentary dubbed Take it Away: The Rise and Fall of Tejano Hollywood, is currently in post-production.

Canales is survived by his wife and two daughters, Zelestial and Miroslava.

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