The Greats of Rock: Julissa, Benny Ibarra, and Their Enduring Friendship
When Andrea Legarreta and Erik Rubín announced that they wouldn’t sign their divorce papers until they saw where their separation took them, it seemed an impossible feat for two people to continue loving each other after ending a romantic relationship. But such friendly breakups are not uncommon in Mexican show business.
Julissa and Benny Ibarra, parents of Erik Rubín’s friend and partner Benny Ibarra de Llano, are a prime example of a couple who continue to support each other through thick and thin decades after their divorce.
In November 2022, Julissa had an accident that required hip surgery from which she is still recovering. On a recent visit to the doctor, she was seen accompanied by her ex-husband, musician Benny Ibarra. “We got along very quickly, we had a great time, we’re very happy,” Ibarra said about his ex-wife’s recovery, revealing the love they still have for each other.
Rocking the 60s and 70s
This couple of great rock & roll performers got their start almost at the beginning of the 1960s. A very young Julissa burst onto the Spanish rock & roll scene with the group The Spitfires, where she stood out as the only female vocalist in a group of men. She soon ventured into a solo career and quickly became known on the radio with hits such as ‘Mi rebeldito’ (‘Oh Watussi’), ‘Memo’ (‘Billy’), and ‘La favorita del teacher.’
After pausing her musical career, Julissa made movies and landed her first big success with Los caifanes alongside Enrique Álvarez Félix and Óscar Chávez, among others. In 1965, Benny Ibarra also joined the rock and roll wave, making his debut with the group Los Yaki, who captivated audiences with their hard sound inspired by the British Invasion of rock.
Benny also caused some controversy for his long hair, as opposed to the short hairdo typical of other singers of the time. During a tour with the Caravana del Pacífico, which mixed rock and roll artists with balladeers and salseros, the two singers met in 1967.
According to Julissa’s story on the program The Minute that Changed My Destiny, Carmen Salinas and Vitola had a lot to do with encouraging her to pursue a relationship with Benny despite opposition from many who criticized his looks and long hair. Ultimately, the pair continued their romance and married in secret in 1969. From their relationship, they had two children, Benny and Alejandro Ibarra.
The End of a Successful Couple
Talented in both singing and acting, Benny only needed help to get closer to a world that was very familiar to his ex-wife. The two soon came up with the idea of staging the play Grease in Mexico in 1973, with them as the stars ‘Sandy’ and ‘Danny’.
But the performance that has become a classic for several generations also meant the end of the successful couple, as Julissa found out about Benny’s infidelity with his co-star Alma Muriel. “I confronted them in the dressing room. He denied it, she said there was an attraction,” she recalled. Julissa left the show with a sold-out theater and later filed for divorce in 1978.
The friendship and affection between Julissa and Benny have endured, as has been seen on their recent visit to the hospital. The producer arrived in a wheelchair and was accompanied by her ex-husband, showing that it’s possible to be friends with one’s ex-partner. “Why not? That’s nonsense. I go everywhere with Julissa,” the singer said.