Rita Lee, Brazil’s Queen of Rock, Is Dead at 75

Rita Lee, Brazil’s Queen of Rock, Is Dead at 75

Rita Lee performing in 1988. She got her start with the band Os Mutantes before finding success as a solo artist, selling a reported 55 million records over a career that stretched over half a century.Credit…Keystone, via Redux Rita Lee, a convention-flouting titan of Brazilian music who emerged with the seminal experimental band Os Mutantes and went on to become a solo star known widely as her country's Queen of Rock, died on Monday at her home in São Paulo. She was 75. Her death was announced in a statement posted on her Instagram account. She had been receiving treatments for lung cancer, which she learned she had in 2021. With Os Mutantes, Ms. Lee was a product of the tropicália movement (also known as tropicalismo), an anti-authoritarian Brazilian cultural flowering that started in the late 1960s. She ultimately became a commercial powerhouse, selling a reported 55 million records over a career that stretched over half a century. As a solo artist, she churned out a string of hits in the 1970s, among then “Ovelha Negra” (“Black Sheep”) and “Mania de Você” (“Mania For You”), that became enduring classics. She was accompanied by the band Tutti Frutti in her early years, and later, by her husband, Roberto de Carvalho. In 2001, Ms. Lee took home a Latin Grammy Award for best Portuguese-language rock or alternative album for “3001.” Her reach was global. Kurt Cobain, David Byrne and Beck are among the many musical innovators who hailed the subversive oeuvre of Os Mutantes. In 1988, King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, requested one of her records for a dance at a banquet at the British Embassy in Paris. He was said to know the words “by heart,” to The Daily Mirror. But she was no pop confection. After a troubled and rebellious youth, she was arrested in 1976 for marijuana possession and held up as a cautionary tale by Brazil's military dictatorship. She also made multiple trips to treatment facilities for drug and alcohol use. Irreverent and candid, Ms. Lee carried herself with rock-star swagger. (After her […]

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