Spanish singer Camilo Sesto, one of the towering voices of Latin pop and a superstar of the 1970s and 1980s, has died, according to a post on his official twitter account. The singer was 72 years old.
Although the cause of his death hasn’t been made public, Sesto had a liver transplant in 2001 and has had occasional health problems through the years. He was active musically, however: an album is slated for release September 13, and Sesto was also scheduled to tour the U.S. extensively, beginning with a show at Coliseo de Puerto Rico October 3, and then continuing through six October dates, including October 25 at the Microsoft Theater.
Sesto, whose shaggy hair, green eyes and boyish good looks were almost at odds with his powerful voice, was not only a singer, but also a producer and songwriter who penned most of his songs. That, in itself, was an oddity at a time when the big balladeers were singing material others wrote.
“Most didn’t do what I did,” Sesto said in an interview with El Pais in Spain last December. “The only thing I needed was a kiosk to sell records. I have a diploma for honors in literature, Spanish and grammar from when I was 10 years old. It was good for something.”
Sesto’s first major hit, “Algo de mi” ("Something") with its changing tempos, sweeping string arrangements, multi-octave range and dramatic lyrics (“Something in me is slowly dying, I want to live, I want to live, learn why you’re leaving me, love”) set the template for a string of successes. They included dramatic ballads like "Quieres Ser Mi Amante?" ("Do You Want to be My Lover?") and “Vivir Así es morir de amor” ("To live like this is to die of love"), which have become standards of the Spanish-language romantic songbook.
Sesto also gained notoriety playing the role of Jesus Christ Superstar in the Spanish version of the play, Jesucristo Superstar, in 1975. Sesto financed the theatrical production in full and went on the record and produce the album, with Angela Carrasco playing Mary Magdalene and Teddy Bautista (who would later become president of SGAE), arranging and playing the role of Judas.
A prolific recording artist, Sesto would go on to sell over 180 million albums worldwide thanks to his songs that traveled effortlessly across continents. No Latin American who grew up in the '70s or '80s was unfamiliar with his music. Or as one fan posted on twitter: “We were all Camilo Sesto in some karaoke.”