Cuban pianist Ruben Gonzalez, who gained fame playing with the Buena Vista Social Club in recent years, died yesterday (Dec. 8) in his Havana home, his wife Eneida Lima said. He was 84.

Cuban pianist Ruben Gonzalez, who gained fame playing with the Buena Vista Social Club in recent years, died yesterday (Dec. 8) in his Havana home, his wife Eneida Lima said. He was 84.

"He was ill for months, but remained at home," Lima said, adding the pianist's health had deteriorated recently. He suffered from severe arthritis, lung, kidney and other ailments.

Gonzalez gained international attention in his twilight years as part of the Buena Vista project organized by American guitarist Ry Cooder. "He is the best pianist I have ever heard," Cooder said of Gonzalez in 1996, after recording the Buena Vista Social Club album.

The project revived the long-forgotten Cuban style of music known as "Son" and brought fame to some of the island's oldest musicians. Buena Vista Social Club leader Compay Segundo died in July at the age of 95.

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