Short but successful music career and life trajectory
Alexis Enrique Navarro Velásquez, artistically known as Cherry Navarro, was a singer and musician from Venezuela, whose talent quickly became evident in a variety of rhythms such as pop, ballads, and others. He was born on 9 July 1944 in Caripito, Monagas State, from the union of Manuel Rafael Navarro and María de Jesús Velásquez de Navarro.
Young Alexis was only 14 years old when his mother decided to move to the country’s capital, specifically to the El Valle parish, where he began his formal education. Around this time, he met another future Venezuelan music legend, José Luis Rodríguez El Puma. The boys not only became good friends, but also they formed their first musical group known as Canaima, which took its first steps at parties and small gatherings.
When the artist decided that he wanted to devote his life to the music world, he started training in a variety of instruments such as the trombone and piano. It might not be long before his efforts paid off and he managed to perform on the TV show Club del Twist, representing a great start in the public and musical life of this young promise.
After having earned considerable fame, he began to be part of the Chelique Sarabia Y Su Conjunto, with which he had intense television activities, making presentations in the most popular variety shows of that moment. One of them was that of the unforgotten presenter Renny Ottolina.
In the early 60s, he met his first wife and mother of his only son, Belkis Montero, but the relationship would not last for long due to the travel and continued musical commitments of the artist. The success that he was accomplishing caused the end of his marriage, but this, far from discouraging the singer, further boosted his career and provided him with the necessary push to start out as a soloist.
After seeing one of his performances in the programme hosted by Chelique Sarabia Cada Minuto Una Estrella, businessman Renato Capriles proposed him to join Los Melódicos, with whom he recorded a few singles, but then he quit the orchestra and ventured to experience a solo career.
Thanks to the support and contacts provided by his new partner María De Las Casas, Navarro managed to sign an important contract with the record label Polydor, with which he recorded his first solo album. That was how the artist finally established himself as a solo artist with a short, but very successful musical career. Something that characterized the musician is that he ever wanted to stand out from other artists, so he always found a way to give a unique touch to his outfits and musical arrangements.
After a very intense artistic career and life trajectory, he fell ill as a result of medullary aplasia which took away his life on 28 September 1967 at the age of 23, ending his life, but giving rise to a music legend.
The origin of the name Cherry Navarro
Many could see that Cherry Navarro was the singer’s artistic name and perhaps others are wondering where this invention that would immortalize the artist for generations came from. Well, we have recently spoken with a dear childhood friend of Cherry Navarro, who has some interesting things to mention and we quote his words verbatim:
«Good morning, good afternoon, good evening. This is Luis Guillermo Rangel. I am a person one of those who grew up in Coche, in the urbanization Delgado Chalbaud, since I was nine or ten. During the 1950-60s, I had the honor of growing up with the respected and beloved Navarro family. Cherry’s mother, Mrs. María Jesús, and his brothers Manuel, René, Carlitos, Cherry, Leslie, and another older sister whose name escapes me at the moment.
After we met for some time in the urbanization, we even formed a Venezuelan music group and entered a music contest that was on Channel 2, Radio Caracas Televisión. It was a program broadcast at 6:00 p.m. and was called “El Programa de José Bhor”. He was an Argentinian man who came to Venezuela to do television and spaces, including this original tv show.
Through music, we as restless young people formed a group bwith friends who lived in the same parish between El Valle, Coche, and the urbanization Delgado Chalbaud. Its director and founder was our friend Frank Acevedo, who was a renowed harpist. In the meantime, I was the cuatro player and let’s say I was an alternate member because I was not fixed there. However, I had my group with Cherry Navarro until we integrated to the CONJUNTO ALMA JUVEIL DE CHELIQUE SARABIA. At the José Bhor’s show, we participated, performed, sang, and won first place in that contest. As I said then, that was on Radio Caracas Televisión.
But ahead, Cherry, or let’s call him Enrique, moved to Los Chaguaramos and I to La Campiña. If memory serves me, he lived in the Naiguatá building. In front of the Luis Caballero Mejías Industrial Technical School (ETI fpr its initials in Spanish) and the Central University of Venezuela (UCV for its initials in Spanish). Cherry moved to that building and we stayed friends.
He did not yet use the nickname “Cherry Navarro” at that time and it was there in Los Chaguaramos where that name was born. I remember there was a candy store where all the boys at ETI AND UCV used to go.
I started to study at ETI, Cherry was very close to me and we took walks in the area with Chelique Sarabía, who studied oil at ETI back then. And we were out there most of the time.
Cherry had a things for certain sweets, was highly selective and quite a character. In those days, a new chocolate product came out to the consumer market. It was a new product made from chocolate and cookie that would compete with another brand in the market that was well-known. That brand that he liked so much was called “Cherry” and every time we went to the candy store to buy something, he wanted some sweet and us to provide him with his favorite Cherry. Of so much saying “Cherry”, he stayed with that name. that nickname is vivid in our mind, even until today that we affectionaly refer to him as CHERRY NAVARRO, who will remain engraved in the hearts of all his followers.
So much so that when he came here, we said “here comes Cherry” because he was always eating chocolates and candies. It was one of his preferred candies because he was a sweet tooth. So much so that his nickname, as I said earlier, came from that Cherry cookie and so remained.
In the family of Cherry in Coche, there were many anecdotes for him. He had a yellow strand of hair on one side and my dad thought he dyed his hair, but he did not. In those days none of that was used. He had a mole there and, of course, we, who had a baseball team there in Coche, made fun of him and someone came up with the name “tongolele”. She was a trendy Mexican actress and when someone called him “tongolele” he got angry because he did not like to be called in this way. Cherry was very friendly and pleasant, but I remember that he was always in fashion, so the nickname “tongolele” went very well. For that reason, “tongolele” stayed in Coche for quite some time.
We organized many get-togethers with friends that ended in fights because Cherry also liked to throw punches, but he did not like to be called in this way.
I remember once on Radio Caracas Televisión, when we entered the programme Club Musical with Chelique Sarabia Y Su Conjunto, someone from the audience approached Cherry and called him ‘tongolele. He just looked at him in the studio and said “Look, if you call me ‘tongolele’ again, you don’t know what’s waiting for you”. I do not forget that, either. That is the story of our great Cherry Navarro and may the good Lord rest his soul because he was a great friend and brother. We grew up from the age of 10 or 11 and spent so much time together. He died at 23 on 26 September because he was born on July 1943. I was older than him by three or four years.
Thanks a lot for the interview and we are to order.
God bless you and thank you».
Words from the friend and teammate of Cherry Navarro from the Conjunto de Chelique Sarabia, Luis Guillermo Rangel
Luis Guillermo Rangel’s Facebook page: Luis Guillermo Rangel
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