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Brazilian bossa nova pioneer Joao Gilberto dies aged 88

His 1964 album Getz/Gilberto with US saxophonist Stan Getz sold millions of copies and popularised bossa nova.

Joao Gilberto, a Brazilian singer considered to be one of the fathers of the bossa nova genre that gained global popularity in the 1960s, has died aged 88.

Joao Marcelo said his father had been battling health issues, though no official cause of death was given.

“His struggle was noble. He tried to maintain his dignity in the light of losing his sovereignty,” Mr Marcelo posted on Facebook.

A fusion of samba and jazz, bossa nova emerged in the late 1950s and gained a worldwide following in the 1960s, pioneered by Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, who composed the famous Girl From Ipanema that was sung Gilberto, his wife Astrud Gilberto and others.

His 1964 album Getz/Gilberto with US saxophonist Stan Getz sold millions of copies and popularised bossa nova.

Over his career, he won two Grammy awards and was nominated for six.

“It was Joao Gilberto, the greatest genius of Brazilian music, who was the definitive influence on my music,” singer Gal Costa wrote on social media.

“He will be missed but his legacy is very important to Brazil and to the world.”

Born in Bahia in north-eastern Brazil, he moved to Rio de Janeiro at a young age.

Gilberto was influenced by US jazz greats and recorded songs in the United States where he lived for much of the 1960s and 1970s.

Journalist and bossa nova scholar Ruy Castro called the death of Gilberto a “monumental” loss.

Mr Castro wrote in his book The Wave That Built In The Sea” that Gilberto loved football and was a fan of the Fluminense club, whose games he liked to watch with a guitar in his hands.

“He managed to create a mystique about him abroad, being who he was and not even speaking English,” he told the Globo television station.

The musician had spent his final years wrapped in legal troubles and debts.

His last live performance was in 2008 and he cancelled a commemorative show to mark his 80th year because of health problems.

With little interest in giving interviews, he had become known as the “reclusive genius” in the streets of Leblon, the neighbourhood where he lived but was seldom seen.

He is survived by three children.

Singer Daniela Mercury called Gilberto a “genius who revolutionised popular Brazilian music. He taught us now to sing in the most beautiful way in the world”.

“Go in peace, maestro,” she wrote.

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