João Gilberto, the father of the Brazilian music Bossa Nova, has died at the age of 88.
His son João Marcelo announced the death of his father on Saturday though the cause of death is not yet known.
"My father has passed," wrote Marcelo on his Facebook. "His fight was noble, he tried to maintain his dignity."
Gilberto filled rooms around the world with his melodic and rhythmic music known as bossa nova, making him a loved musician in his home country Brazil when his soothing voice debut in the 1960s singing ‘The Girl from Ipanema’.
Born João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira, the musician was born in a small town in the north-eastern Bahia state and fell in love with music at the age of 14 by his grandfather when he got his first guitar.
He then began to before with local students, eventually making it onto local radio in Salvador de Bahia.
Finally at the age of 19, he arrived to Rio de Janeiro in the 1950.
There he performed with a vocal quintet called ‘Garotos da Lua’ before being asked to leave for repeated absences to rehearsals and performances.
Gilberto then began to make a name for himself as a guitarist on a recording in 1957 by Elizete Cardoso, called “Cancao de Amor Demais”, (Song of too much love) considered to be the first bossa nova album.
His guitar style coupled with his velvety smooth voice brought him to the forefront of his new sound bossa nova, meaning ‘new trend’ or ‘new wave’ as he began to make the rounds of jazz festivals and concert halls around the world.
His creation ultimately carved out a niche worldwide for Brazilian music.
Bernardo Araujo, a music critic from the daily O Globo paper is quoted last year as saying Gilberto’s importance was “immeasurable”.
“He was the leading voice of the best known Brazilian style in the world and a revolutionary without even really meaning to be” the critic told AFP.
Even though his contribution remains immeasurable, the singer and guitarist was known for being an obsessive perfectionist and eccentric recluse, opting to spend time in his pajamas away from people.
Journalist and bossa nova scholar Ruy Castro called the death of Gilberto a "monumental" loss.
Castro wrote in his book "The Wave that Built in the Sea" that Gilberto loved soccer and was a fan of the Fluminense club, whose games he liked to watch with a guitar in his hands.
"He managed to create a mystique about him abroad, being who he was and not even speaking English," he told Globo television.
Rise to the top
In 1962, Gilberto was invited to perform with saxophonist Stan Getz, an American, with fellow-bossa nova innovator Antonio Carlos Jobim, and with his then-wife Astrud Gilberto.
Their 1964 album "Getz/Gilberto” with the American saxophone player Stan Getz sold millions of copies and won Album of the Year.
It also won several Grammy awards and pushed bossa nova to new heights around the world.
It featured the hit single Girl from Ipanema, sung by Astrud.
Many of his beloved songs were sung in a duet with his first wife, including “Desafinado”, “Corcovado”, “Chega de Saudade”
The success of the ‘Getz/Gilberto’ album brought him to the US and Mexico where he resided for much of the 1960s and 70s.
During this time, he released albums ‘João Gilberto en Mexico’ (1970), ‘Joao Gilberto’ (1973) and ‘Amoroso’ (1977) before heading back home to Brazil in 1980.
He is survived by three children, João Marcelo, Bebel and Luisa.