Gustavo Cerati, who has died four years after a stroke put him in a coma, was one of Latin America’s most influential musicians. The 55-year-old was the former lead singer of the Argentine rock band Soda Stereo, who were among the most popular groups in the Spanish-speaking world in the 1980s and ’90s.
“He is eternal,” said Charly Alberti, drummer for Soda Stereo. “He is by far the best musician to come out of Argentina in the past 50 years.”
He was born in 1959 in Buenos Aires and formed his first band before he was 10. Many of the melodies recorded during his childhood became the inspiration for Soda Stereo songs.
He met band members Alberti and Hector “Zeta” Bosio at college when they began swapping records of artists like the Police, XTC and Elvis Costello. They formed Soda, as the band was known to fans, in 1982 as Argentina emerged from a long and brutal dictatorship.
Their first album, a fresh sound with heavy influences of new wave and punk, was released in 1984. They broke up in 1997, but Cerati continued a successful solo career until he suffered a stroke following a 2010 gig in Venezuela.
Cerati won several accolades, including several Latin Grammys and MTV awards. Thousands gathered at the Buenos Aires parliament building after his death. Some sang his songs, others brought flowers, while most waited in silence in a queue that stretched for 15 blocks to pay their respects. “How am I going to say goodbye to him, since he was such a part of my life?” one fan wondered. “He formed a part of my adolescence, my first loves, my adulthood.”
Gustavo Adrian Cerati Clark, musician: born Buenos Aires 11 August 1959; married 1992 Cecilia Amenabar (divorced 2002; one daughter, one son); died 4 September 2014.