Bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto dies at 88

    The Brazilian legend passed on after a period of illness.

    João Gilberto circa 1960
    João Gilberto circa 1960. Image: Tom Copi / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

    Brazilian musician and bossa nova progenitor João Gilberto has died. He was 88.

    The musician died at home in Rio de Janeiro following an undisclosed illness, his son Marcelo Gilberto revealed in a Facebook post on Saturday. “His fight was noble, he tried to maintain dignity,” he wrote, according to the BBC.

    Known in his home country as O Mito (The Legend), Gilberto has been hailed as one of the pioneers of bossa nova, the popular style of Brazilian music that blends jazz and samba rhythms. His intimate, complex guitar-picking methods and subtle vocal stylings became hallmarks of the genre.

    Gilberto’s 1958 recording of “Chege de Saudade” became a local and international hit, and is often cited as a turning point in Brazilian music and culture at large. His 1964 joint album with American saxophonist Stan Getz, Getz/Gilberto, spawned multiple standards and hits such as “The Girl from Ipanema,” which was sung by his then-wife, Astrud Gilberto.

    RIP, João Gilberto. Revisit “The Girl from Ipanema” here: