Sandro, Argentina's Elvis, dies aged 64

Argentina is coming to terms with the news that the national treasure who brought the swinging Sixties to much of South America had died at the age of 64 after suffering fatal complications related to heart and lung surgery.

Sandro, often called the Argentine Elvis, recorded 52 albums, starred in 12 films, was the first Latin singer to play Madison Square Garden and one of the first rock-and-roll singers to be greeted on stage with a barrage of flying underwear.

Sandro, whose real name was Roberto Sanchez, became famous by accident in 1964, during a now-legendary concert when the lead singer of his band, Los de Fuego, lost his voice. He assumed singing duties, began dancing in a sensual fashion, and promptly sent the crowd wild.

He became an overnight fixture on the airwaves, with hits that included Asi (Like That) and staple of the news pages, thanks to the legions of mostly female fans. In later years, Sandro became a ballad singer and actor, and won a lifetime achievement Grammy.

But the rock-and-roll lifestyle eventually caught up on him. Last year, he revealed that his smoking habit had left him in need of major surgery. "My life is my bed, my spot in the dining room where I read the newspaper, and from there I do not move," he said. "I am to blame for the condition that I am in. I deserve it; I sought it out. I picked up this damn cigarette."

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