Gustavo Cerati, legendary frontman for the influential Argentine rock band Soda Stereo, died Thursday of respiratory failure, according to a message from his family posted on the artist's Facebook page.
Cerati, 55, had been in a coma for more than four years after suffering a stroke following a solo concert in Caracas, Venezuela. According to the Associated Press, Gustavo Barbalace, director of ALCLA Hospital in Buenos Aires, where Cerati remained during his coma, "thanked the singer's mother, Lilian, for remaining by her son's side for four years and never losing faith that one day he would return to life."
Though he may not be household name the United States, Cerati was considered one of the most important musical figures in the Spanish-speaking world and a pioneer in the genre of "Rock en Español" that became popular during the 1980s and '90s.
His band, Soda Stereo, was formed in the early '80s with Cerati's college friends and blended the sounds of fast, heavy guitar riffs with an accessible pop-punk sentimentality influenced by and often compared to the British rock acts of the time.
Soda, as fans called them, went on to sell out stadiums and perform an "MTV Unplugged" session. One of their biggest legacies was their song "De Música Ligera," which became an anthem for multitudes of Latin American youths and a still ubiquitous rallying cry at any Rock en Español venue in Los Angeles.
The band broke up in 1997, but Cerati established a successful solo career, winning several Latin Grammy and MTV awards.
Fans have taken to social media to pay gratitude to their "idol," and fellow artists like Shakira gave their heartfelt gratitude and goodbyes to the charismatic singer.
Gustavo, we still need to write the most important song of all. I love you, friend, and I know you love me! Just as you taught me, "I will use love as a bridge," that which unites us forever.
RIP Gustavo Cerati.— Ricky Martin (@ricky_martin) September 4, 2014