It’s an overcast day here in Austin, Texas, but other than that, everything seems to be flowing normally. Not many people here seem to know what’s going on but I know too well the void all our friends back in Miami and Latin Americans all over the world are feeling. Today, Gustavo Cerati, leader of the legendary Argentine rock band Soda Stereo, passed away following four years of being in an induced coma after having suffered a transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke) in 2010.
In a way, we had already been stripped of him. The last time Soda Stereo toured was back in 2007 for their Gira Me Veras Volver and Cerati’s last solo album, Fuerza Natural, came out in 2009. The next summer, he was already hospitalized in FLENI Neurological Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he would spend the next four years before finally passing away from respiratory arrest on September 4th, 2014.
Still, his death comes as the tragic end of an era for many generations of Latin-Americans who have grown up on Soda Stereo since the early 80s. While many (Not all!!) latin rock bands are merely an imitation of their American or British counterparts, Soda Stereo never lagged behind on experimentation. Sure, their early albums bear stylistic similarities to other English bands of the time such as The Smiths and The Police, but their music was never a blatant, watered down copy of anyone else’s. Instead, Cerati, along with bassist Zeta Bosio and drummer Charly Alberti, managed to make something completely of their own that has resonated throughout Latin America and Europe for more than three decades. The United States has been a little slower to catch on. Luckily, even though Cerati is no longer with us, his music lives on. And there is a lot of it.
Gustavo Cerati was decidedly a musical genius. Even after Soda Stereo’s amicable break up in 1997, he continued to make groundbreaking music as a solo act. Soda Stereo’s fabled discography has so much musical variety, it’s little wonder they are known semi-officially as the “Legendary Latin Rock Band.” To me, it’s always seemed as though Soda Stereo is Latin America’s response to many of the British and American frontrunners of popular music. It’s a damn good comeback at that! From the Ska-punk of their self-titled debut to the 80s deliciousness of Nada Personal to the future pop of Sueño Stereo, Cerati’s song writing stayed fresh, humorous, and awe-inspiring throughout his career. Never having to envy anyone, I’m sure, or at least like to think that Gustavo passed peacefully.
Either way, I’m less sad today than I thought I’d be. Maybe it’s because over the past four years, I’ve slowly resigned myself to the increasingly real possibility that he might not come back. Or maybe it’s because Gustavo Cerati lives past his physical body. There was nothing left unsaid. His music tells all. And it’s there for me whenever I want to visit him. Curiously enough, Soda Stereo always made me think of overcast days. It’s only fitting that today their music will be blasted everywhere.
“Me sali fuera de contexto
Practicar no te hace perfecto
Poner un disco eterno y moverme tornasol
Un espritu, a veces seguro
Otras veces incierto, quiero descubrir
Por que este deseo crece” Soda Stereo, Disco Eterno