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Top Latin rocker Gustavo Cerati dead at 55

05 september 2014, 12:00

 Gustavo Cerati, who became a megastar in Latin America with his brand of showy, arena-friendly rock 'n' roll, died on Thursday at 55 after four years in a coma, AFP reports.

The Argentine singer and guitarist, who led the band Soda Stereo before a successful solo career, died of respiratory failure, said a doctor at his clinic near Buenos Aires, Gustavo Barbalace.

Cerati suffered a stroke after a concert in Caracas in 2010 and fell into a coma. He never recovered, despite even the best wishes of fellow Argentine Pope Francis who sent his mother a card last year.

Born in the Argentine capital in 1959, Cerati was influenced from an early age by British rockers including The Beatles, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.

In 1982, he joined bandmates Hector "Zeta" Bosio and Charly Alberti to form Soda Stereo, who went on to record songs such as "Nada Personal" ("Nothing Personal") and "Persiana Americana" ("American Blinds") which became hits throughout Latin America.

With his pouffed-up hair and his mastery of the electric guitar, Cerati packed in arena-sized crowds around Latin America, much like his counterparts from the English-speaking world.

After success in Argentina, Soda Stereo in 1987 played 22 concerts in 17 cities around Latin America that drew almost 150,000 people. The band had sold more than one million albums by 1990.

Shakira -- the Colombian singer who became a sensation a generation later, but also achieved greater recognition outside Latin America -- mourned Cerati, writing on Twitter: "I love you, friend, and I know that you love me! As you taught me, I'll use love as a bridge that will always unite us."

Bandmate Bosio described Cerati as a unique genius, saying: "The lion has stopped fighting."

Cerati was survived by two children, 18-year-old Lisa and 21-year-old Benedict, whom he had with his former wife Cecilia Amenabar, a Chilean model, actress and DJ.

The family said that Cerati's body would lie in state from Thursday night at the Buenos Aires legislature. His death quickly became the talk of social media, with #HastaSiempreCerati ("Forever Cerati") and #GraciasGustavo ("Thank you, Gustavo") trending on Twitter.

Cerati, who had a successful solo career after Soda Stereo split in 1997, won six Latin Grammy awards throughout his career. He won one Grammy for co-producing Shakira's album "Fijacion Oral Volume 1" ("Oral Fixation, Volume 1").

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