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Memorial Service Today for Tito Torbellino, Phoenix-Born Banda Musician Shot in Mexico

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A memorial service for Phoenix-born Tomas Tovar Rascon, a famous banda singer known as Tito Torbellino, will take place today at 5 p.m. at Celebrity Theatre.

The service is open to the public, and the theater reports that 1,700 tickets sold out in four-and-a-half hours yesterday.

The service begins at 5 p.m. A burial for the singer happened earlier in the day at Glendale Memorial Cemetery.

Tovar Rascon's family is asking attendees wear white t-shirts to show solidarity.

The Associated Press reported that Tovar Rascon, 33, was sitting in a restaurant in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, a city just over 300 miles south of the Arizona border, when two gunmen entered and shot Tovar Rascon at close range. The singer died on the way to the hospital. (Some Spanish language sources are reporting there were six gunmen involved.) He was scheduled to play a concert in Obregon the following day.

Tovar Rascon's last local show was on Friday, May 23, at Oceans Seven in Scottsdale.

There have been cases of musicians being assassinated, but they were mostly singers of "narcocorridos," songs about the Mexican drug trade, the AP reported. Tovar Rascon's songs were mostly about love, not drug violence, according to the AP.

Reportedly, Tovar Rascon knew of the dangers he faced.

The Spanish-language El Universal reported that when asked about potential threats to his life, Tovar Rascon replied, "Every job has its risks." And Elijah Wald, who wrote a book, Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns and Guerrillas, told the AP that even singers who didn't sing about drugs directly were still in danger.

"In that world, it's probably more dangerous to be singing romantic songs than narcocorridos because it increases the chances that somebody's girlfriend will suddenly decide that you're the cutest thing ever," Wald told AP.

"You're in a world where's it's very, very easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or have the wrong friends or look sideway at the wrong girl. The list of things you can do wrong once you're in that world gets very large."

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