Tato Luzardo, the director of Spain's Academy of Music Arts and Sciences, died the day after the 14th Premios de la Musica gala award organized each year by the academy.

He died on March 5, it has been announced, after a long battle against cancer. He was 65.

The Academy is formed by collecting society SGAE and artists association AiE. SGAE's executive president Eduardo 'Teddy' Bautista was a close friend of Luzardo since their teenage experiences half a century ago as a Canary Island-based pop group called Los Canarios, who played in the United States and in Spain.

Luzardo was drummer and Bautista singer of Los Canarios, formed in 1964 in Las Palmas in Gran Canaria.

Bautista wrote in an obituary published in Spain's top selling daily El Pais that "we are desolated by the loss of an extraordinary person who throughout his career, first as a musician, later as a record label executive, and finally as director of the Academy, always gave an example of inventive capacity, professional rectitude, and love for a job well done."

Luzardo was born in Las Palmas, the capital of the Canary island of Gran Canaria off west Africa. He and Bautista were still minors when they formed Los Canarios and went to play in the U.S., and Bautista's father had to accompany them as their tutor.

Later, Luzardo began working in Spanish label divisions such as Island and Ariola, where he was based in the U.S. and became an expert on Latin America pop and rock when it was still unknown in censor-stricken Spain under the 1939-75 Franco dictatorship.

Luzardo opened Latin American and U.S. Latin markets for Spanish artists such as Joan Manuel Serra, Joaquin Sabina, Mecano, Victor Manuel and Ana Belen, Pedro Guerra, Juan Pardo, Camilo Sesto, Rocio Durcal and Peret. He also oversaw the arrival in Spain of Latam artists such as Juan Gabriel, Jose Jose, Daniela Mercury, Gloria Trevi, Santana and Juan Luis Guerra.