The Girl From Ipanema singer deep in debt

Brazilian musician Joao Gilberto had not had a new album since 1989 and had no public concert since 2008.
Brazilian musician Joao Gilberto had not had a new album since 1989 and had no public concert since 2008. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

RIO DE JANEIRO • Joao Gilberto, a Brazilian musician who pioneered the lilting, melodious music known as bossa nova, has died at 88.

His son announced the news last Saturday but no cause was given.

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

He fell in love with music when he got his first guitar at 14. In 1957, he made a name for himself as guitarist on a recording by Elizeth Cardoso, Cancao do Amor Demais, considered the first bossa nova album.

Later, known both for his smooth voice and guitar style, he took the sounds of bossa nova to jazz festivals and concert halls worldwide.

He was a perfectionist and then an eccentric recluse. In his later years, he was caught in an ugly conflict pitting two of his three children against his wife Claudia Faissol.

She was said to be taking advantage of his mental decline and contributing to his financial ruin.

In 2011, she persuaded Gilberto to go on tour to mark his 80th birthday but he later pulled out, citing health woes. Caught in a dispute with his first recording label, with no new album since 1989 and no public concert since 2008, he ended up having to sell 60 per cent of his royalties on his first four albums to pay off debts.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2019, with the headline 'The Girl From Ipanema singer deep in debt'. Print Edition | Subscribe