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article imageBrazilian bossa nova pioneer Joao Gilberto dead at 88

By AFP     Jul 6, 2019 in Music

Joao Gilberto, the legendary Brazilian musician and songwriter who was a pioneer of the lilting, melodious music known as bossa nova, has died, his son Joao Marcelo announced Saturday.

He was 88. The cause of death was not immediately known.

"My father has passed," the son, who lives in the US, wrote on Facebook. "His fight was noble, he tried to maintain dignity in light of losing his sovereignty."

Gilberto, whose soft voice singing "The Girl From Ipanema" in the 1960s made him world famous, was living alone in a borrowed house at the end, deeply in debt in Rio de Janeiro.

Known both for his smooth singing voice and his guitar playing, Gilberto brought the sounds of bossa nova -- meaning "new trend" or "new wave" -- to jazz festivals and concert halls around the world, putting Brazilian music on the map.

Bernardo Araujo, a music critic for the daily O Globo newspaper, said last year that Gilberto's importance was "incalculable."

"He was the principal voice of the best known Brazilian style in the world and a revolutionary without even really meaning to be," Araujo told AFP.

Among Gilberto's dozens of albums, some of the most renowned were recorded with jazz greats Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock and fellow Brazilian Antonio Carlos Jobim.

But in his later years, he was caught in an ugly conflict pitting two of his three children -- Joao Marcelo and daughter Bebel Gilberto, both musicians -- against his last wife, Claudia Faissol, a journalist 40 years his junior from whom he had separated.

The two children accused Faissol of taking advantage of their father's mental and physical decline and contributing to his financial ruin.

In late 2017, Bebel was named her father's legal guardian as he was found no longer competent to manage on his own.

"In front of the microphone he succeeded," his biographer Ruy Castro said last year, "but off stage it was the opposite."

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