Gustavo Cerati

 Gustavo Cerati

Gustavo Adrián Cerati Clark

(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 and a Latin American rock legend. He was primarily known as the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of Soda Stereo, considered by critics to be the most important and influential band of Latin rock. He had also achieved recognition and success as a solo artist, beginning in the early 1990s during a hiatus from Soda Stereo, when Cerati recorded his first solo album Amor Amarillo(Yellow Love).

Cerati experimented with various musical genres, including electronic music (Plan V) and symphonic music. Throughout his career Cerati was nominated for various Grammy, MTV, and Gardel awards. In 2007, Cerati reunited with Soda Stereo for a reunion tour Me Veras Volver Tour.

On 14 May 2010, Cerati suffered a stroke after a concert in Caracas, Venezuela. He remained in a coma under artificial respiratory aid. He died on 4 September 2014, at the age of 55, due to respiratory arrest.


Early life

Cerati was born on 11 August 1959 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, into a family of Italian, Irish and English background. He was the oldest son of the engineer and accountant Juan José Cerati, and Lilian Clark. From an early age Cerati showed an interest in music. His first incursion into music was a broomstick band that he formed in elementary school. Besides music, Cerati enjoyed drawing. He would spend long hours drawing superheroes such as “Superbrain” (similar to Superman, but without the aversion to kryptonite). He was an able athlete who practiced swimming and athletics. He won second place in a competition for the Billiken magazine after running 100 meters in an intercollegiate competition. One of Cerati’s main activities during his youth was directing the choir for the College, where he was suspended for burping during Mass (he was later pardoned after winning a singing competition). As a teenager he worked as a medical assistant at the Boehringer Laboratory in Argentina in 1981. A few years later he served in the Argentinian military.

His first musical influences were groups like The Police –Cerati recorded “Bring on the Night” for a tribute album featuring Andy Summers on guitar and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. Queen, (whom he covered with Soda Stereo), The Cure, David Bowie -whose chameleonic musical versatility widely inspired Cerati’s aesthetics-, Brian May, Ritchie Blackmore and Deep Purple.

In his high-school years, Cerati won a Christmas themed songwriting contest sponsored by Canal 9 television network. He played in different bands including, “Savage,” a rock and blues group, “Vozarron,” a fusion band, and a trio called “Triciclo” (tricycle). “Savage” was made up of two British singers who would also perform at a cabaret in front of Parque Centenario (Centennial Park).

Soda Stereo

Main article: Soda Stereo

In 1982 Cerati established a close relationship with Héctor “Zeta” Bosio, which was to prove decisive in the future of both. They knew each other from their studies at the University of Salvador in Buenos Aires, where they had both majored in advertising. Their relationship was cemented in the summer of 1982 in Punta del Este, Uruguay where they were playing with their respective bands. They decided to return to Buenos Aires to form a band. Zeta and Gustavo shared the same musical tastes and had the same aspirations. They wanted to integrate the new wave sound of The Police (which had toured Argentina earlier that year), with their own sound. And they wanted to sing in Spanish. Charly Alberti was recruited as drummer and they formed Los Estereotipos. After a brief period in which various configurations were tested, including one with Daniel Melero, Richard Coleman, and others, they decided to remain as a trio and changed their name to Soda Stereo.

From the beginning the group worked on building their image, aided by Alfredo Lois (college roommate), who took care of the aesthetic details; makeup, hairstyles, and so forth. The first concerts were held in July 1983 at the disco Airport and at Stud Free Pub. Following those early shows Soda toured the pub circuit with obligatory stops at Cafe Einstein and Zero, which at the time, represented the less commercial scene of the moment.

Along with Soda Stereo Gustavo Cerati recorded seven studio albums: Soda Stereo (1984), Nada Personal (1985), Signos (1986), Doble Vida (1988), Canción Animal (1990), Dynamo (1992), Sueño Stereo (1995).

Solo career

Cerati recorded two solo albums with Soda Stereo. These albums are:

  • Colores Santos (1991) A project with Daniel Melero. Notable songs from the álbum include “Vuelta por el Universo”, “Tu Medicina” and “Colores Santos”.
  • Amor Amarillo (1994) Cerati’s very first solo album which included Hector (Zeta) Bosio, ex-bass player for Soda Stereo, contributing bass on the song “Amor Amarillo” (“Yellow Love”). Notable singles from the album include “Lisa”, “Te llevo para que me lleves”, “Pulsar” and “Bajan”.

After the breakup of Soda Stereo, Cerati released the following solo albums :

  • Bocanada (1999) Considered his first official solo album, it is held as masterpiece of his career and one of his best records. AllMusic granted it 4 1/2 stars out of 5 possible, making it very important for a Latin album.[10] Bocanada is marked by heavy use of electronic samples and beats. Some outstanding songs from this album include “Engaña”, “Río Babel”, “Bocanada”, “Puente” and “Paseo Inmoral”. During an interview, Cerati said that he would had like to name this album “Cerati Iluminado” in regards to the lyrics and music that he arranged for the record.
  • +Bien (2001) Soundtrack of the movie of the same name, directed by Eduardo Capilla, in which he also stars and makes his acting debut. Another soundtrack he produced was for the movie “Solo Por Hoy”.
  • 11 Episodios Sinfónicos (2001) A live recording of Cerati singing with a classic orchestra performing some of the most popular songs from his own catalog and that of Soda Stereo.
  • Siempre es Hoy (2002) The third non-instrumental album of his solo career, it marks a new perspective for his music and sound. Some highlights include “Karaoke”, “Cosas Imposibles” and “Artefacto”.
  • Siempre es Hoy / Reversiones (2003) A compilation of remixes from the album “Siempre es hoy” performed by several artists of the ambient electronica around the world.
  • Ahí vamos (2006) Probably his most rock-oriented album to date, Ahí vamos is an album that combines Cerati’s guitar roots and a melodic style. It includes songs such as “Lago en el cielo”, “Crimen”, “La excepcion”, “Uno entre mil”, “Adios”, “Me quedo aqui” and “Medium”. Hector Castillo and Tweety Gonzalez were responsible for the sound engineering of the album.
  • Fuerza Natural (2009) Released on 1 September 2009, the album is Cerati’s fifth and last solo album and features a folk sound with acoustic guitars and presence of mandolins. The first single from the album was “Déjà vu”. It also includes songs such as “Fuerza Natural”, “Rapto”, “Magia”.

In addition to his songwriting and producing abilities, Cerati is a talented lead-and-rhythm guitar player known for his ability to play intricate lead solos on guitar while singing in key, a fact made evident during live performances throughout his entire career. In his solo album Ahí vamos, his guitar playing is featured prominently, contrasted to the heavy use of electronic samplers that marked his 1999 solo album “Bocanada.” “Ahí Vamos” was certified platinum in Argentina in only one day.

Cerati had several electronic music alter egos as well, namely Plan V, Ocio and Roken. He produced albums for other artists, most notably Sueños en Tránsito for Nicole, Mar for Leo García and “Manzana de Metal” for Altocamet as well as for the band Friccion. He is a contributing artist on several albums for artists such as Caifanes, Los Calzones, and Shakira.

Despite stating that the Grammys do not matter to him, he attended the Latin Grammys ceremony on 2 November 2006, where he won for Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song.

On 10 March 2007 Cerati played a free concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The show was held in a popular square and main streets were closed. The concert was the closure of the Summer Programme of the city government. The government estimated that between 150,000 and 200,000  people attended.

On 7 July 2007 he performed at Live Earth with Shakira in Germany.

Soda Stereo en Santiago de Chile 5.jpg

Gustavo Cerati won Best Rock Album for Fuerza Natural and Best Rock Song for Deja Vu during the 2010 Latin Grammy Awards.

Personal life

Cerati was married to Chilean model Cecilia Amenábar from 1992 until 2002. They had two children: Lisa and Benito. Amenábar contributed vocals and double bass to Cerati’s first solo album, Amor Amarillo.

Health problems


On 15 May 2010, Cerati suffered a stroke due to a decompensation after his performance in Caracas, Venezuela. He was hospitalized in Centro Médico La Trinidad in Caracas under medical surveillance. Three days later, according to the Venezuelan media, Cerati underwent surgery to relieve pressure on his brain due to the ischemic stroke he suffered.

On 7 June 2010, Cerati was finally transferred to Argentina and hospitalized in the FLENI Neurological Institute in Buenos Aires. Doctors there began treatment with antibiotics due to a respiratory tract infection. The following day, doctors reported extensive brain damage due to the stroke, according to the Agence France-Presse. Cerati remained in a coma until he experienced a respiratory arrest that led to his death on 4 September 2014.

While performing at Rock in Rio Madrid on 5 June 2010, Colombian singer Shakira, a close friend of Cerati, dedicated the premiere performance of her song “Sale El Sol” (The Sun Rises) to Gustavo. It would become the title track of her upcoming Spanish album. The song states that the sun will rise even after the storm and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A month after the stroke, Claudio E. Pensa M.D., medical director of the FLENI Neurological Institute, issued a statement to the press stating that Cerati’s medical condition remained unchanged and that he would only provide new information if changes were to occur.

On Cerati’s official webpage his family issued two statements, with the first on 20 June 2010 thanking and acknowledging the medical staff in Venezuela for their work, as well as the efforts of the personnel of Evenpro and Cerati’s roadies and musicians. On 27 June 2010 the family’s second statement was released, which affirmed that Cerati is receiving good medical care and asked fans to disregard any malicious rumors related to his health.

On 2 December 2010 a statement was issued by ALCLA Clinic’s medical director stating that, neurologically, Cerati is reacting to thermal stimuli.

The Irish rock band U2 remembered Gustavo Cerati in one of their concerts in La Plata, Argentina, on March 2011 during the intro of their song “Moment of Surrender”. Bono said “We would like you to think about Gustavo Cerati. We send him our love and respect, and he will hear our voices tonight”, earning a standing ovation from 60,000 fans at the Único Stadium.

Swedish rockers Roxette performed the intro of “De Música Ligera” just before “Joyride” in their set of concerts in Argentina during April and May 2012. The crowd was more than pleased and collectively sang the first verse of the song.

On 14 May 2014 the family released a statement to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the stroke. It included a medical report by Gustavo Barbalace M.D. stating: “Mr. Gustavo Cerati remains hospitalized (…) without any serious complications, in good nutritional shape and without lesions due to immobility. Neurologically there’s no significant changes and remains under mechanical respiratory aid”.


After four years in a coma, Gustavo Cerati died from respiratory arrest due to an aneurysm/brain on the morning of 4 September 2014, while on life support at Clinica ALCLA in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Immediately after his death, Cerati´s doctor stated to the media “Gustavo died with dignity without any pain, without any wound”. His body was buried at La Chacarita Cemetery in Buenos Aires.