Though he has blossomed as an artist on his own, he still credits his father for his artistic drive.
"The main thing for me has always been the music, not just the fame," Luis Miguel says. "I wanted to do it well. I had certain heroes . . . from Javier Solis and Pedro Infante in Mexico to Frank Sinatra and more in this country. I wanted to be like them . . . the style and the class.
"My father taught me that if you are going to do something, you do it well. He was very, very strict and it made an impression on me when I was young and getting started. It became important to me . . . to do things right and not embarrass yourself."
His own dedication is evident throughout the show. The tendency of most mainstream pop stars (whether singing in English or Spanish) is to be either melodramatic or bland, and Luis Miguel is free of both traits.
For this tour, he has designed a quickly paced 2 1/2-hour show that combines some of his upbeat, dance minded hits with a string of the bolero numbers that have served as the foundation of three recent albums, and even a brief mariachi segment.
He is accompanied by a battery of musicians, including a six-piece band that applies a contemporary R&B/funk edge to much of the music, a 10-piece string section that is utilized chiefly during the boleros and by a 13-piece mariachi band. He is also joined at times by three female singers.
Despite the large lineup, Luis Miguel uses the musicians wisely, leaving space for intimacy and character. While he exudes some of the supper-club charisma and command of Sinatra, it's misleading to carry the comparison too far. There is more of a pop-rock energy to his musical arrangements and to his constant twists and turns on stage. He'll even punctuate a line with a sudden skip or leap.
But none of the show-biz dynamics draws from the focus on the songs.
Watching him, it's obvious why he's reluctant to test himself in English until he's confident he can deliver just as strong a show.
"Music is my life," he said during the interview. "My stage is my church. I still get nervous before a show. I don't know why. I think about it a lot. I've done, what, 1,000, 2,000 live performances. I even get nervous every time I make a record.
'I don't want to lose something that I have . . . the respect that I think I've achieved. It's like every album and every show is a test. You have to work at it every time. You can never take it for granted."
* Luis Miguel appears tonight through Monday at the Universal Amphitheatre, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. $53-$68 (tonight and Sunday sold out). (818) 622-4440.