João Gilberto, architect of bossa nova music, dies at the age of 88

The 'Baiano of Juazeiro' became famous in 1958 when at 27 years old he recorded 'Chega de Saudade'

São Paulo

Architect of bossa nova, singer and composer João Gilberto died on Saturday (6), at age 88, in Rio de Janeiro. The information was announced by his son, the music producer João Marcelo Gilberto, on social media. 

Gilberto leaves three children: firstborn João Marcelo, from the marriage with the singer Astrud Gilberto; Bebel Gilberto, from the union with Miúcha; and Luísa, his daughter with the ex-wife Cláudia Faissol. At the end of his life, he lived with his girlfriend, Mozambican Maria do Céu Harris.

The "baiano of Juazeiro" came to the stardom in 1958 when, at 27 years old, he recorded "Chega de Saudade." Months later, came "Desafinado." The songs served as a driving force for the style that came to be known as bossa nova and influenced generations of national and international musicians.

João Gilberto - Rafael Andrade/Folhapress

Throughout his career, the musician released 13 studio albums and four live albums. Among them are "The Love, the Smile and the Flower" (1960), "Joao Gilberto" (1961) and "Getz / Gilberto" (1964). The latter, recorded in partnership with the American saxophonist Stan Getz, is one of the best selling jazz records in history.

In recent years, Gilberto often complained about the air conditioning making his guitar out of tune, which irritated his audiences. In the second half of 2011, he postponed a tour four times and, in the end, canceled his celebrating his 80 years.

The singer was also involved in a complicated family entanglement since 2017. That year, his daughter,  singer Bebel Gilberto, began a judicial process to take over the affairs of her father because of his advanced age and his precarious financial situation—he was even evicted from the apartment where he lived in Leblon. 

Recently, Bebel had also applied for judicial protection against her half brother, Joao Marcelo—he had accused her of stealing his father's money. Mônica Bergamo's column reported that Faissol, mother of the singer's youngest daughter, said in June that she had not been able to see the musician for a year and that if the fights between his two eldest children continued, Gilberto would die of sadness.

João was 88 years old in June, when he appeared in a rare photograph published by his daughter-in-law, João Marcelo's wife, on social media. He did not give interviews and only received relatives at home. 

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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