Latin Rock Icon Gustavo Cerati Dead at 55

Rocker Gustavo Cerati Hospitalized in Argentina with 'Extensive Brain Damage'
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Gustavo Cerati

Millions of fans mourn the loss of Latin America’s most emblematic rock star and one of the region's most celebrated artists of all time.

Gustavo Cerati, the front man of the legendary Argentine pop-rock group Soda Stereo, who went on to a brilliant but too short solo career, has died.

Millions of fans are mourning his death, which had been falsely rumored several times since he fell into a coma following a stroke after a concert in Venezuela in October 2010. Cerati’s family broke the news on social media, informing his Facebook fans and 2.67 million Twitter followers that the artist passed today (Sept. 4) in the early hours of the morning of respiratory failure at the Buenos Aires clinic where he had been interned. The news was the top story on the front page of Argentina’s national newspaper Clarin.

“Gustavo, we still have to do the most important song of all,” Shakira, for whom Cerati had written and produced, said on Facebook. ”I love you friend and I know that you love me! Just as you taught me [in song], I’ll use love as a bridge.”

“Ciao Gus. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Sony Music Latin America chairman Afo Verde tweeted.

“The lion gave up the fight,” tweeted Zeta Bosio, the bassist-turned-DJ who formed Soda Stereo with Cerati in Buenos Aires in 1982. They met as university students majoring in advertising. Drummer Charly Alberti completed the trio.

The group, born in the cultural boom that occurred just after the fall of Argentina’s military dictatorship, was influenced by Britpop in both sound and aesthetic, and pioneered the idea of touring throughout Latin America. It became the first true pan-Latin rock en espanol band. Soda Stereo created a fan base that extended from Mexico to Chile, and later, the United States, when their music was discovered by younger generations of Latinos. The South American super group sold a reported 17 million albums in Latin America before splitting in 1997. On a 2007 reunion tour, they performed for nearly 1 million people in 22 countries. Songs like “Musica Ligera” and “Persiana America,” have become standards of the Latin music canon.

"I think with Soda we were really at the dawn of something." Cerati told Billboard. Such was their popularity that once they stumbled upon a hotel called the Soda Stereo Inn in Mexico; the singer had kissed babies named Cerati.

Cerati received three Latin Grammys in 2010 for his last album, Fuerza Natural. “It’s my best album,” he said just months before he fell into a coma. “I feel that I’m at a point where anything is possible… ”

That record followed Bocanada, Siempre es Hoy and Ahi Vamos, which were all well received by Soda fans and new followers who may not have been born when Soda was at its peak, many young artists among them

“Cerati’s work influences many new and veteran artists, from garage bands to Shakira,” Argentine producer Tweety Gonzalez, sometimes called the fourth Soda, previously told Billboard. “Getting accustomed to the idea that we won’t hear any new songs from him is very strange and unexpected.”