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‘Love is forever:’ Mexican musician Marco Antonio Solis talks about his bond to Chicago

When the lights dimmed recently at the Allstate Arena, the crowd cheered for Marco Antonio Solis, one of Mexico’s most popular legacy singers and songwriters. “El Buki,” as many know him, is recognized for his ballads and romantic songs, many inspired by his love for his wife, he said.

His show in Rosemont on Oct. 15 closed his solo tour in the United States. His wife joined him in the crowd, singing along to the songs with thousands of fans.

His wife, Cristy Salas, tries to go with him to every show and on all the trips he makes, Solis said.

“Cristy is a fundamental part of my life. It’s part of the secret why we are still together 30 years after getting married,” he said in interviews with the Tribune. That is the love he says he hopes to share through his music, especially to the younger audience that has moved away from love songs in recent years.

“Love is forever,” Solis said.

More than 60% of the ticket sales for his concert in Chicago were to millennials, according to his tour management. For some, it is the lyrics of the songs that resonate with a broken heart or being in love. Others find it nostalgic; it was the songs they grew up hearing because their parents listened to them.

“It’s a huge honor for me to know that the letters of my songs are now representative and important for young people,” Solis said. “It’s amazing that they find in my songs a way to express what their hearts are feeling.”

A concert in Chicago is always more special, he said. The city is the place where he professed his love to his wife and asked her to marry him in June 1993.

The two had been dating for about three years and after one of his shows, Solis asked Salas to marry him backstage. A month later, in July, they celebrated their wedding in Las Vegas and then in Morelia, Michoacán, his hometown in Mexico.

Chicago was also the first city in the United States where he performed outside of Mexico with the group that would become Los Bukis, the band that gave Solis his nickname.

Marco Antonio Solis performs at Allstate Arena on Oct. 14, 2023, where he wrapped the U.S. leg of his solo tour.

The band reunited in 2021 after 25 years and sold out Soldier Field.

His musical career began in December 1977, when Solis, 18 at the time, and three of his bandmates crossed the U.S. border through Tijuana undocumented and days later took a flight to Chicago to perform at a small venue.

The group’s manager at the time had booked their first performance in the United States but did not consider the need for proper documentation.

While crossing, Solis prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe, he remembers, but by the time the group finally arrived in Chicago, their date for the show at the former Alameda’s Casino venue on Milwaukee and Pulaski already had passed. Solis recounts how the owner heard their story and allowed the group to perform.

“It’s always a beautiful memory,” he said. “I would like to tell that little guy that arrived here decades ago, that everything was gonna be OK, and that working with the heart, being honest, and being constant is the key to a happy life.”

Roughly 20 people attended the Bukis’ first-ever show in the city. Solis later composed a song about their journey called “Los alambrados.”

… ahora ya andan en Chicago, con dólares se divierten,” the song says. “Now they’re in Chicago, they have fun with money.”

Solis said he hopes his story can inspire the new generation that now listens to his music.

“It’s really something amazing, a full experience that fills my heart and also a big example for new generations that working and believing in your goals can take you wherever you imagine,” Solis said.

Now performing for more than 16,000 people in Rosemont, he keeps his word of spreading the love with his ballads, many of which are interpreted by other Latino artists.

Couples held hands, families shared laughs and solo people sang their hearts out as Solis performed some of his hits.

Maria Acevedo, 32, sat next to her mother, 85, at Solis’ concert. It felt like a “blessing,” to be listening to the artist his mother and father listened to while she was growing up, Acevedo said.

“These songs never get old,” she said.

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