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Argentina: Musician Luis Alberto Spinetta Dies

Luis Alberto Spinetta, “El Flaco“, one of the most influential rock musicians in Argentina, died on February 8, 2012, as a result of illness; Spinetta had lung cancer, diagnosed in July, 2011. His condition became public when, towards the end of the year, he addressed his fans with an emotional letter [es] that began like this:

Buenos Aires. Diciembre 23, 2011. Mi nombre es Luis Alberto Spinetta. Tengo 61 años y soy músico. Desde el mes de julio sé que tengo cáncer de pulmón. Estoy muy cuidado por una familia amorosa, por los amigos del alma, y por los mejores médicos que tenemos en el país. Ante el aluvión de información inexacta, quiero aclarar públicamente las condiciones de mi estado de salud. Me encuentro muy bien, en pleno tratamiento hacia una curación definitiva. […]

Buenos Aires. December 23, 2011. My name is Luis Alberto Spinetta. I am 61 years old and I am a musician. I have known since July that I have lung cancer. I am very well cared for by a loving family, by my closest friends, and by the best doctors in our country. Given the barrage of inaccurate information, I want to publicly clarify the state of my health. I feel very well, in full-on treatment towards a definitive cure. […]
Luis Alberto Spinetta, by Facundo M. Nívolo. Image licensed by Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Luis Alberto Spinetta, by Facundo M. Nívolo. Image licensed by Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In January, Spinetta was admitted to the Cemic Institute to undergo surgery for intestinal perforation due to diverticulitis, a diagnosis unrelated to his cancer. On January 30, after 25 days in hospital, he was discharged and was able to go home.

On February 8, just over a week later, “El Flaco” died at home, surrounded by his children: Dante, Catarina, Valentino and Vera,  according to [es] the Argentine newspaper Telám. And it was his children themselves who started a wave [es] of messages full of melancholy, sadness and pain, expressed on the social network Twitter. [translator's note: all Twitter links are in Spanish]

Dante (@dantespinetta), in a brief but very profound tweet said [es]:

Te amo por siempre Papá.

I love you forever, Dad.

While Valentino (@Leeva_) posted [es] on his account:

T amo papá, siempre vas a estar en mi alma y mi corazón.

I love you Dad, you will always be in my soul and my heart.

Quoting a line from her father, Catarina (@Cataspinetta) also tweeted [es]:

‘No habrá un destino incierto, ni habrá distancia que pueda alejarme de ti…’ Amor eterno a mi Padre♥

‘There will be no uncertain fate, nor any distance that will take me away from you…’ Eternal love to my father ♥

Reactions on social networks

The hashtag #chauflaco [goodbye Flaco] quickly became a trending topic, gathering the tweets of those users wanting to express their emotions with the news of the death of a musician with one of the longest careers in Argentine rock:

User Paula Castro (@_paucastro) reflected:

La tristeza de decir #chauflaco .. Gracias x tanta poesia!

The sadness of saying #chauflaco… thank you for so much poetry!

Technology writer Federico Wiemeyer (@wiemeyer) recalled a verse by Spinetta:

“Si no canto lo que siento me voy a morir por dentro” #ChauFlaco

“If I don't sing what I feel I'm going to die inside” #ChauFlaco

Pablo Ferreyra (@PabloRFerreyra) mourned:

Murió el mejor músico argentino. El que más voy a extrañar. Barro tal vez, flaco. #ChauFlaco

The best Argentine musician has died. The one I will miss most. Barro tal vez, flaco [line from a Spinetta song meaning “Mud, perhaps, Flaco.”]. #ChauFlaco

User Bruno Vaccotti (@peztresojos) quoted Spinetta to explain popular sentiment:

“La gente está incluida en el alma. Yo soy toda la gente” #elflaco dixit. Por eso hoy, todos morimos un poco. #chauflaco

“People are part of your soul. I am all people.” So said #elflaco. So today, we all have died a little. #chauflaco

Paula Zuviría (@pau_apichela) related an anecdote:

Mama entra llorando a mi cuarto y me dice: Porque no me contaste que murió Spinetta ? #chauflaco

Mom comes crying to my room and says: Why didn't you tell me Spinetta died? # chauflaco

User Cecilia Ann Tosh (@_CeciliaAnn) reflected:

Por qué se puede estar acongojado por la muerte de alguien que no conociste? Porque su obra enriqueció tu ser. #ChauFlaco

How can you be so distressed by the death of someone you didn't know? Because his work enriched your soul. #ChauFlaco

Messages from Twitter netizens are flowing [es] in at a rate that probably won't slow down in the coming days or weeks, which is understandable since Luis Alberto Spinetta is considered by many the greatest exponent of music in Argentina. And while such a statement is completely subjective, it is undeniable that his work has greatly influenced the work of many musicians, and his legacy will always be part of the heart of Argentina and Latin American culture.

“And this is always true, whether you are staying or you are going.”

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