Brazil’s ‘Queen of Rock’ dies at age 75

Rita Lee Jones, Brazil’s million-selling “Queen of Rock” who gained a world following via her colourful and candid fashion and such hits as “Ovelha Negra,” “Mania de Você” and “Now Solely Lacking You,” has died at 75.

In any other case often called Rita Lee, she died at her dwelling in Sao Paulo on Monday night, in line with an announcement posted to her official Instagram account.

With a profession spanning six a long time, the Sao Paulo native left an enduring mark together with her irreverence, creativity and compositions containing messages that helped introduce Brazilian society to feminism, whereas additionally candidly addressing her struggles with drug abuse.


Though she regarded her voice as “weak and a bit of out of tune,′ like a sparrow’s, she loved a long term of top-selling albums, together with “Rita Lee” and “Rita Lee & Roberto de Carvalho,” and dozens of her songs had been featured in broadly watched telenovelas in Latin America. The behemoth tv community Globo used her rendition of the tune “Poison Weed” (Poison Ivy) in three of its packages.

“I used to be not born to get married and wash underwear. I needed the identical freedom because the boys who used to play on the street with their toy vehicles,” she instructed the Brazilian version of Rolling Stone in 2008. “Once I obtained into music, I spotted that the “machos” reigned absolute, much more in rock music. ‘Wow’, I mentioned, ‘that is the place I’m going to let my fangs out and, actually, give them a tough time.’”

She was a singer and songwriter praised for her versatility, taking part in at the least 5 devices: drums, guitar, piano, harmonica and autoharp. She was additionally one of many first Brazilian musicians to make use of electrical guitar.

Rita Lee Jones

Brazilian singer Rita Lee Jones performs in a live performance in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Nov. 23, 2002. Rita Lee Jones has died on the age 75. (AP Photograph/Natacha Pisarenko, File)

Finally, her recognition prolonged past Brazil. She carried out in Portugal, England, Spain, France and Germany. In 1988, the British newspaper Every day Mirror revealed that then-Prince Charles admired her tune “Lança Fragrance” and regarded her his favourite singer. She received a Latin Grammy within the Greatest Portuguese Language Album class in 2001, for her album “3001.”

Rita Lee rose to fame with the group Os Mutantes (The Mutants), beginning in 1966. Colours and creativity, in addition to irony and irreverence, had been Lee’s emblems from the beginning, evident within the flamboyant costumes she carried out in her exhibits. By the mid-Nineteen Seventies, after promoting 200,000 copies of the album “Forbidden Fruit,” Lee started to be known as the “queen of rock” on the music scene. Hits on “Forbidden Fruit” embrace “Now Solely Lacking You” and “Ovelha Negra,” lengthy performed on radio stations and Brazilian cleaning soap operas.

In an interview with the music web site I Have Extra Information Than Associates! in 2017, Lulu Santos, decide of the Brazilian model of The Voice, recalled seeing Rita Lee play autoharp at a live performance.


“She introduced that factor on stage, in these garments… it was utterly mythological,” the musician mentioned. “There actually is a lineage of ‘ladies’ tied to rock in Brazil, of which she is a official consultant. However I see her as a component that distances herself from the clichés of rock.” She, from her female standpoint, sees the clumsiness of the worn-out cliché of the male rocker, the one who performs along with his legs open. She noticed proper via him.”

She was one of many first public figures in Brazil to popularize feminist themes, reminiscent of infusing the lyrics of her 1979 tune “Mania de Voce” (Mania for You) with feminine sexuality and pleasure. Comparable songs adopted, reminiscent of “Amor e Sexo” (Love and Intercourse) which contrasted the 2 intimately and “Lança Fragrance” (Spray Fragrance), an ode to unbridled hedonism.

Later in life, she grew to become a vegan and animal rights activist. For many years, she saved her hair vivid crimson and sometimes wore matching lenses, a well-liked look that she discarded in recent times as she allowed her grey to develop out. She resolved in 2015 to reinvent herself as a white butterfly.

In her autobiography, printed the next yr, she didn’t shy from describing the sexual abuse she suffered as a baby by the hands of a person who had come to repair her mom’s stitching machine.

She additionally referred to herself as a “insurgent” and “hippie communist,” and wrote of sneaking out the home windows of her home as a young person to play, being arrested throughout the dictatorship for possession of marijuana, and her a number of stints in rehab clinics for medicine and alcohol.


“I acknowledge that my best songs had been written in an altered state, and my worst too. I solely remorse my delay in realizing that the ‘drugs’ had lengthy since expired,” she wrote. “My technology suffered the claustrophobia of a brutal dictatorship, and utilizing medicine was a solution to breathe airs of freedom.”

In an interview with the tv program Fantastico in 2020, she defined that bodily frailty had prompted her to go away the stage eight years earlier.

“Getting previous, for me, was a shock, as a result of I’ve by no means been previous in my life,” she instructed the present. “I used to be left eager to reside my previous age away from the stage, with out sharing it with the general public.”

A public wake will likely be held on the planetarium in Sao Paulo on Might 10, in line with the Instagram put up.

She is survived by her three youngsters and her husband, musician Roberto do Carvalho, with whom she shared a 44-year musical partnership. In 2021, they launched a brand new tune, Change, collectively, and a remix of a few of the singer’s greatest hits.

Years earlier than, she imagined her future loss of life, as if prophesying:

“I will likely be in heaven,” she wrote, “with my soul current taking part in my autoharp and singing to God, ‘Thanks, Lord, lastly sedated.’ Epitaph: She was by no means a great instance, however she was good individuals.”

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