Obituary: Mamonas Assassinas

The five members of Mamonas Assassinas shot out of nowhere to become the Brazilian teen pop sensation of the decade. They perished spectacularly together in a plane crash, leaving only one record, and were mourned by the Brazilian public and media as extravagantly as Ayrton Senna, the last great popular hero to be buried in Brazil.

"My grandchildren were very sad," President Henrique Cardoso commented in his note of condolence, and the culture minister stated that Brazil had lost "a singular manifestation of irreverent humour". The entire group, with two pilots and two technical staff, died when their rented Lear jet hit a hilltop approaching Sao Paulo airport, on the way back from the last concert of a national tour, and the Brazilian media quickly noted strong ironic elements to the story.

For one thing, their record company had been planning to "disappear" the group for a few months to whet public appetite for a new album in the summer. For another, aeroplanes featured strongly in the Mamonas' mythology. The cheerfully naive list of dedications on the sleeve of their hit album included, as well as the studio engineers who mixed the album in Los Angeles and the Mexican cleaner in their hotel, the inventor of the aeroplane, Alberto Santos- Dumont, for having made their first trip possible.

All five group members were in their twenties and grew up together in Guarulhos, the middle-class town next to Sao Paulo's airport. Pre-stardom, their lives appear to have been unremarkable. Alberto Hiroto, a guitarist, studied physics and took part in yo-yo competitions. Other members were office clerks or video store assistants. Alecsander "Dinho" Alves, the singer, chief lyricist and star personality of the band, worked as an assistant to a local town councillor. The group, initially called Utopia, was formed in 1989, and did the rounds of all the record companies unsuccessfully before EMI signed them as Mamonas Assassinas ("Killer Tits") and in January 1995 released their first album. By the end of the year it had sold 1.7 million copies, a remarkable feat in the recession-hit Brazilian music industry, and was a hit also in Argentina and Portugal, while Mamonamania gripped Brazilian youth, with hordes of screaming pubescent followers besieging their hotels, and Dinho and his new young model fiancee a staple of the gossip press.

Only the most besotted of fans would impute high musical quality to the Mamonas' record, and a common reaction among older Brazilians was scorn, turning on further exposure into amused fondness. The group's product was essentially straightforward rock, mixed with elements of what is often known as brega or tacky music, a lower-class country-like pop, of which the Mamonas cannily used the melodic catchiness while simultaneously parodying the redneck associations. Other key elements of the act were stage gear, a colourful jumble of shirts, T-shirts, pyjamas, convicts' outfits and silly hats - and, above all, headline-grabbing lyrics, slang-laden and risque and delivered in an assortment of comic accents.

Their huge hit "Animal World" is a sort of dirty nursery rhyme, comparing the delights of humping different species of animal, while "Vira Vira", which succeeded in being temporarily banned from radio, tells the tale of one Maria who, invited to an orgy, comes home a week later minus one breast and "so shagged out she couldn't sit down".

A minor, but clear strand of the Mamonas' work, visible in sharp little portraits of, for example, provincial social climbers hypnotised by shopping malls, was social satire, and it was this that impelled one Brazilian obituarist to say that the Mamonas' slight oeuvre, in its own way, described the destiny of Brazil.

Philip Sweeney

Alecsander Alves, singer: born 1972; died 2 March 1996. Alberto Hiroto, guitarist: born 1973; died 2 March 1996. Julio Rasec, keyboard player: born 1968; died 2 March 1996. Samuel Reoli, bass guitarist: born 1974; died 2 March 1996. Sergio Reoli, drummer: born 1972; died 2 March 1996.

Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
Arts and Entertainment
Tulisa as a judge on the X Factor in 2012
tvLouis Walsh confirms star's return
Life and Style
fashionClothes shop opens on Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Life and Style
life
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Nursery Room Leader

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: JOB DESCRIPTION - NURSERY ROOM LEADER...

Foundation Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Early Years and Foundation stage Prim...

Relationship Manager

£500 - £600 per day + competitive: Orgtel: A leading banking client in London ...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone