Gustavo Cerati, Latin Rock’s Soda Stereo Leader, Dies At 55

The Legendary Gustavo Cerati performs in the Dominican Republic in 2007. In 2010, Cerati suffered a stroke while on tour. He was in a coma until his death on Thursday.

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Legendary Argentine musician Gustavo Cerati, who fronted the pivotal band Soda Stereo in the 1980s and ’90s, died Thursday in Buenos Aires. Soda Stereo, which authored rock and roll anthems for several Latin American generations, was instrumental in launching the Latin rock movement. With his boundary-crossing music that spanned several decades, Cerati is a pillar of Latin music. He was 55 years old when he died.

In Latin music, there are distinct eras before and after Soda Stereo. But if its success was unprecedented, it was not coincidental. These were incredibly talented musicians who were sharply image conscious in a way no Latin rock band before them had been, with an uncanny ability to evolve into new sounds, who arrived on the scene at exactly the right time.

In the early 1980s, the Argentine dictatorship was ending with a failed conflict against England and an infamous Dirty War, and after years of being under the thumb of decrepit juntas, the continent was ready to have its fun (if not yet quite ready to deal with its past). After a decade of melancholy, combative music, Soda Stereo’s fun, well-written, energetic, tongue-in-cheek songs reflected that change. The sexual energy was frenetic. And as the Argentine government allowed the airplay of bands that had previously been banned (but everyone listened to anyway), the influence of British bands like Pink Floyd and Rod Stewart was undeniable. Watch him perform in this video: Gustavo Cerati 11 Episodios sinfónicos, grabado en el Teatro Avenida de Buenos Aires, en agosto de 2001

This one is from his funeral. RIP. Gustavo Cerati.

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