(Adds comment from Shakira)
By Jorge A. Otaola
BUENOS AIRES, Sept 4 Argentine musician Gustavo
Cerati, a flamboyant showman who brought stadium rock to Latin
America with his band Soda Stereo, died on Thursday at age 55.
Grammy-winning Cerati had been in a coma since suffering a
stroke in May 2010, after a show in Venezuela.
"This morning, patient Gustavo Cerati passed away," said a
statement from the Buenos Aires hospital where he was receiving
Soda, as most fans call the group, shot to fame across Latin
America and in Spain in the 1980s with a distinctive, harmonious
rock-pop sound and a slick image that set them apart from other
Latin rock acts and set the stage for future Latin American
Colombian pop idol Shakira said on Facebook: "Gustavo, our
most important song of all has yet to be written. I love you, my
friend. And I know you love me. As you taught me, 'I will use
love as a bridge' which will keep us together forever."
Guitarist and vocalist Cerati formed Soda with bass player
Zeta Bosio and drummer Charly Alberti in 1982, just as
Argentina's military dictatorship started to crumble following a
brief war in the British-ruled Falkland Islands.
During a career that spanned three decades, he received a
string of musical accolades including Latin Grammys and MTV
awards, both with Soda Stereo and for his numerous solo
Sony Music signed Soda and the band went on to record seven
albums between 1984 and 1995, including Signos (Signs), which
propelled them to regional fame, and Cancion Animal (Animal
Song), perhaps their most popular record.
As a youngster, Cerati was a fan of Pink Floyd, The Beatles
and David Bowie, but the Soda Stereo sound is more often
compared with The Police.
Buenos Aires-born Cerati was 9 years old when he started
playing guitar and joined his first band at 12.
Soda split up in 1997 as creative and personal differences
became irreconcilable after 15 years together, although they
reunited in 2007 for a farewell tour.
"Few things have been as important in my life as Soda
Stereo," Cerati wrote in a letter published in the newspaper
Clarin after the split. "It's a delicate balance of clashing
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2006, he
described cocaine binges in his Soda days and how he quit a
heavy smoking habit after suffering a stroke.
"After you reach 40, these situations force you to change
your way of life," he said, but he showed no signs of retiring
from the music scene.
"I don't feel age, or something that says 'it's caught up
Cerati's solo career brought him international awards in
2006 when he won two Latin Grammys for best rock album "Ahi
Vamos" (There We Go) and best rock song "Crimen" (Crime), a
single that gained huge popularity in Latin America and Spain.
He released his last album Fuerza Natural (Force of Nature)
in 2009, which earned him three more Grammys in 2010.
(Additional reporting by Maximilian Heath and Alejandro
Lifschitz; editing by Matthew Lewis and Gunna Dickson)