Gustavo Adrián Cerati (11 August 1959 – 4 September 2014) was an Argentine singer-songwriter, composer and producer, considered one of the most important and influential figures of Ibero-American rock. Cerati along with his band Soda Stereo, were one of the most popular and influential Spanish-language rock and pop groups of the 1980s and ’90s.
Cerati was the recipient of many awards throughout his career including various Grammys, MTV awards, as well as the MTV (Latin America) Legend Award with Soda Stereo, the first of its kind.
Cerati died on 4 September 2014 at the age of 55, after suffering a stroke four years earlier in Caracas, Venezuela which resulted in a coma.
Cerati’s parents acquired a guitar for him when he was nine years old, at that point Cerati started to take music seriously, becoming a fanatic of rock and roll:
Los que me pegaron en ese momento fueron Hendrix con “Purple Haze” y The Who con “Pictures of Lily”. Durante semanas los escuché sin parar. Ahí se me despertó el deseo de tocar, de armar un grupo (English: The ones who struck me at the time were Hendrix with “Purple Haze” and The Who with “Pictures of Lily”. For weeks, I listened non-stop. That is when the desire to play, to start a band, was awakened).
By the age of 13 he formed a trio and started playing at house parties and in the local Catholic school, where he eventually joined the choir. Cerati was a good student until his third year of junior high school when he met a fellow student who, like himself, was into rock and roll,
He was more advanced in everything, he smoked marijuana and had many records. At that moment I started to separate myself from my classmates. I started listening to Progressive rock because this guy had everything, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Soft Machine, Roxy Music…My dad used to travel abroad on business trips and he started bringing me records. In 1973 it was not easy to have imports. In Argentina the records came out a long time after….they came out. My father brought me my first imported guitar, a Gibson. I went to meet him at the airport and it was unforgettable.
After serving compulsory military service in 1979 Cerati entered the university to pursue a degree in marketing, something that he was not passionate about. His family supported him with his music, “Mi familia me vio tan enloquecido con la música, que pensaron que algo de éxito iba a tener” (My family saw that I was so crazy about music, that they thought I would have some success [with it]). At the Universidad del Salvador, a Jesuit university in Buenos Aires, he met Héctor “Zeta” Bosio, also a marketing student. The two hit it off and decided to form a band. They were fans of The Police, The Beatles, XTC, Elvis Costello, Television, and The Talking Heads. In 1982, after various lineup changes that included Richard Coleman, Daniel Melero, and Andrés Calamaro as well as others, Bosio and Cerati recruited Charly Alberti as their drummer, thus forming Soda Stereo.
Soda Stereo signed to Sony Music in 1984 and released their debut LP Soda Stereo that same year. Nada Personal (“Nothing Personal”) followed in 1985 giving Soda Stereo their first hit with “Cuando pase el temblor” (“When The Shaking Is Past”). Soda released Signos (“Signs”) in 1986, Doble Vida (“Double Life”) (produced by longtime David Bowie collaborator Carlos Alomar) in 1988, and Canción Animal (“Animal Song”) in 1990. During the 1990s Soda Stereo released Dynamo in 1992, Sueño Stereo (“Stereo Dream”) in 1995, and their final album Comfort y Música Para Volar (“Comfort and music to fly with”) in 1997.