Simón Díaz, Beloved Venezuelan Singer, Dead at 85

Simon Diaz

Courtesy of the Artist

The folk singer was known internationally for his much covered song "Caballo Viejo"

Simón Díaz, the folk singer affectionately known as “Uncle Simón” in his native Venezuela, has died at age 85.

Díaz, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, died at his home in Caracas Wednesday morning.

“With tears I announce to the country that my beloved father departed this morning in peace, “ the singer/songwriter’s daughter Bettsimar Díaz Tweeted. Willie Colon, Jorge Drexler, Victor Manuelle, and other Latin music artists lamented his death on Twitter.

Díaz recorded more than seventy albums in his lifetime. He was the composer of the 1980 song “Caballo Viejo,” which became a classic covered by Julio Iglesias, Ruben Blades and Placido Domingo among many other artists. The song was reworked by the Gipsy Kings to create their global hit “Bamboleo.”

Simon Narciso Díaz Márquez was born in Barbacoas, Venezuela. An interpreter of Venezuelan country music, he was dedicated to keeping the gaita and other traditional genres alive. He also worked as a comedian in film and television, and was known throughout Venezuela for his children’s television “Contesto por Tío Simón,” which aired in the 1970s and 80s. Simón hosted a radio program for twenty-five years dedicated to the music of Venezuela’s countryside.

Díaz was honored with a Latin Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2008.