Thursday, September 4, 2014

Argentine Music Icon Gustavo Cerati Died

Argentine rock legend Gustavo Cerati died on Thursday at the age of 55.

“In the early morning hours today the patient Gustavo Cerati died due to pulmonary arrest,” read a statement on the musician’s website from the Buenos Aires hospital where he was receiving treatment.

Cerati never regained consciousness after he had been in a coma from a stroke that hit him after a May 2010 concert.

Last May doctors claimed that Cerati was “clinically stable” but noted that there were “no significant improvements” to his condition and he continued to be connected to an “assistive respiratory device.”

From 1982 to 1997, Cerati was the lead singer of influential Argentine rock en Español group Soda Stereo. Along with Charly Alberti and Hector "Zeta" Bossio, Soda’s distinctive mix of rock and pop led them to create seven studio albums and thrilled audiences throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

“I still haven’t fallen (into reality).  My stance was always to have faith but evidently his body told him he had to go somewhere else.  I am at a loss for words,” lamented Alberti shortly after his friend passed away.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner officially declared three days of mourning in memory of Cerati.  Meanwhile, several thousand people in Buenos Aires queued up on a line fifteen blocks long Thursday night to get the chance to view his remains.

“High school, my first recitals; all the memories are flooding back.  His legend gave us life,” said longtime fan Alejandro Canario who was one of the many on the lengthy line.

In Soda’s early years the group had more of a New Wave sound as shown by their hits  "Persiana Americana" and “Nada Personal”.  Soda also cheekily poked fun at the last vestiges of the brutal “Dirty War” military rulers in their song “Dietetico” that ended with the lyric “El regimen se acabo”. (This could be interpreted as “The (dietary) regimen is over” or “The regime is done.”)

The band’s latter hits like “Luna Roja” and "Ella Usó Mi Cabeza Como un Revólver" incorporated a more alternative rock sound and even some elements of shoegaze and electronic rock.  It was from this period that Soda’s best-known song emerged in the form of "De Musica Ligera".  Inspired by the collection of classical music albums owned by Cerati’s parents, the complex song of both longing and finality became Soda’s signature tune.

In 1988, Soda recorded English–language versions of “Cuando Pase el Temblor” and “Juegos de Seducción” for a proposed album in English but that did not come to fruition.

Following the breakup of Soda, Cerati embarked on a critically acclaimed solo career that included winning multiple Latin Grammys in 2006 and 2010.  He also collaborated with other Latin American artists such as Caifanes, Bajofondo and Aterciopelados.

“Gustavo, our most important song of all has yet to be written…I love you, my friend. And I know you love me” tweeted Shakira who interpreted a duet with her for her 2005 album Fijación Oral, Vol. 1.
Aside from a Soda reunion tour in 2007, Cerati's time as a soloist lasted thirteen years until the stroke that hit him after a concert in Caracas, Venezuela.  Despite being in a coma, Cerati’s mother, Lillian Clark, spoke out against a “death with dignity” law passed in 2012 and asserted that the notion to end his life “never passed” through her mind.

“Around through the universe, flying higher and higher…No words, eternal love for you…To say goodbye is to grow” mentioned Cerati’s only daughter, Lisa, via her Facebook page.  (Cerati’s son, Benito, has followed in his dad’s footsteps and is currently a rock musician).

The hashtag #HastaSiempreCerati has reportedly become one of the top five trending topics worldwide on Twitter.

Video Source – Soda Stereo via YouTube

Online Sources –; Clarin; Twitter; The Latin Americanist; People en Español;; El Espectador

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