Felipe Arriaga, a renowned singer and actor hailing from Mexico, gained widespread fame during the 1970s and 1980s, particularly for his contributions to ranchera music and collaborations with the legendary Vicente Fernández. His on-screen presence was equally notable, featuring in notable films such as “El Hijo del pueblo,” “La ley del monte,” and “El coyote y la bronca.”

Tragically, his life met a premature end on November 3, 1988, when unidentified assailants shot him outside his residence in Mexico City. At the time of his untimely death, Felipe Arriaga was only 51 years old. This article delves into the life and demise of Felipe Arriaga, as well as the enigma surrounding the circumstances of his murder.

Early Life and Career

Born on September 27, 1937, in Rancho El Pitayo, Cotija de la Paz, Michoacán, Felipe Arriaga was the eleventh child of Gerardo and Meche Aguilar, humble farmers. With limited formal education, concluding at the second grade, he began working as a shoemaker to support his family. Despite his modest beginnings, Arriaga harbored a deep-rooted passion for music, teaching himself to play the guitar and sing during his childhood.

In 1956, he relocated to Mexico City, crossing paths with Vicente Fernández, who became both his friend and mentor. Together, they established a musical duo known as “Los Dos Compadres,” gracing various venues and radio stations. Collaboratively, they recorded albums like “El Hijo del pueblo” and “La ley del monte.” Simultaneously, Felipe Arriaga embarked on a solo career, delivering notable songs such as “El cafre,” “Cargamento mortal,” and “El corrido de los Pérez.”

Diversifying his artistic pursuits, Arriaga ventured into acting, accumulating roles in over 20 films, predominantly spanning action, drama, and comedy genres. Memorable performances include his portrayal of a drug trafficker in “El cafre” (1986), a rebel leader in “La ley del monte” (1976), and a bandit in “El coyote y la bronca” (1980).

The Night of His Murder

On the evening of November 3, 1988, Felipe Arriaga found himself outside his residence in Mexico City, reveling in the presence of his recently acquired car, a purchase funded by the proceeds from his musical endeavors. Alongside him were his wife, one of his children, and a friend. Abruptly, a blue car lacking license plates pulled up nearby, and two individuals disembarked, unleashing a barrage of gunfire with a machine gun. Felipe Arriaga endured the impact of five bullets, while his companions sustained injuries but managed to survive.

The assailants swiftly departed, leaving behind a scene marked by horror and pandemonium. Fearful of involvement or alerting the authorities, neighbors who admired Felipe Arriaga refrained from intervening or contacting the police. When law enforcement eventually arrived, Felipe Arriaga had succumbed to his injuries. Transported to a hospital in Zihuatanejo, he was formally pronounced dead.

The Mystery Behind His Murder

The motivation behind Felipe Arriaga’s homicide remains shrouded in uncertainty to this day. No arrests or charges were ever made in connection with the crime. Speculation circulated that it might be linked to a conflict with an organized crime group, although no substantiating evidence emerged. Some suggested the possibility of mistaken identity or a botched robbery.

Contrastingly, a political motive has been posited by certain individuals. According to sources, Felipe Arriaga had aspirations to run for mayor of Cotija de la Paz, his hometown, in the upcoming elections. Additionally, he had declared support for Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the leader of the leftist opposition party that contested the ruling party in the 1988 presidential elections. Some suspect that influential entities orchestrated his murder to quell his political ambitions and stifle his voice in the political arena.


Felipe Arriaga, a gifted singer and actor, etched his presence in Mexican culture through his ranchera music and cinematic contributions. A devoted friend and compadre of Vicente Fernández, his untimely demise left a profound impact on those who cherished him.

The news of his murder elicited shock and sorrow among his fans and peers, who continue to hold fond memories of him. His enduring legacy resonates through the timeless allure of his songs and movies, perpetually enjoyed by audiences even today.