June 23, 2024

Brazilian rock queen Rita Lee dies at 75 | music

6 min read
Brazilian rock queen Rita Lee dies at 75 |  music

Brazilian rock queen Rita Lee dies at the age of 75; Remember a profession

Rita Lee, one of the greatest singers and songwriters in the history of Brazilian music, passed away on Monday (8) at the age of 75. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021 and has been undergoing treatments for the disease.

The singer’s family issued a statement on her social media: “We announce the death of Rita Lee, at her residence in São Paulo, the capital, late last night, amid all the love of her family as she always wanted.” The event will be open to the public, in the Planetarium in Ibirapuera Park, on Wednesday (10), from 10 am to 5 pm.

Rita is the patroness of freedom

Rita Lee in a photo taken in March 1969 – Photo: Estadão Escolha / Arquivo

Rita helped integrate the rock revolution into the tropical city’s creative explosion, formed the most respected Brazilian rock band in the world, Os Mutantes, and created songs in her solo career with massive pop appeal without losing her freedom and irreverence.

Always modern, Rita has been a reference for creativity and feminine independence during her nearly 60-year career. The title “Queen of Brazilian Rock” came almost naturally, but she thought it was “cheesy” – she preferred the “patron saint of freedom”.

Rita Lee Jones was born in São Paulo, on December 31, 1947. Her father, Charles Jones, was a dentist and the son of American immigrants. Her mother, Italian Romilda Padula, was a pianist, and encouraged her daughter to study the instrument and sing along with her sisters.

At the age of 16, Rita joined an all-female singing trio, the Teenage Singers, and performed as an amateur at school recitals. Singer and producer Tony Campello discovered the singers and invited them to participate in the recordings as a backing vocal.


Os Mutantes, a group formed by Arnaldo Baptista, Rita Lee and Sergio Dias with Gilberto Gil in a photo taken in March 1972 – Photo: Estadão Content Collection

In 1964 she joined a rock band called Six Sided Rockers which after some lineup and name changes gave rise to the Mutantes in 1966. The group was initially formed by Rita Lee, Arnaldo Baptista and Sérgio Dias.

Primal to the tropics, by uniting hallucinogenic psychedelia with local rhythms, they became the most highly regarded Brazilian group among rock musicians in the world, idolized by Kurt Cobain, David Byrne, Jack White, Beck and others.

The trio was accompanied by Gilberto Gil in “Domingo no parque” at the Música Popular Brasileira Festival with the third recording in 1967, and Caetano Veloso in “É Banned for Ban” at the Third International Festival in Cancú, by Globo in 1968, teachers from Trupelia.

Os Mutantes also participated in the 1968 album Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis, the movement’s seminal recording.

She was part of the Mutantes during the band’s most relevant and creative period, from 1966 to 1972. She recorded “Os Mutantes” (68), “Mutantes” (69), “A Divina Comédia ou Ando Meio Disligado” (70), “Jardim Electrique” (71) and “The Mutants and Their Comets in the Land of Borits” (72).

The end of the relationship with Arnaldo Baptista coincided with her departure from the Mutantes. The first solo album was “Build up”, even before she left the band, in 1970. She also released “Hoje é o Primeiro Dia do Resto da Sua Vida”, in 1972, still recorded with the group.

solo career

Rita Lee during the recording of the “Mulher 80” special, shown on Globo in 1979 – Photo: Nelson Di Rago/TV Globo/Arquivo

Her post-Mutants career took shape with the group Tutti Frutti, where she recorded five albums, focusing on the “Fruto block”, from 1975, which included the single “Now it’s just miss you”.

From 1979 onwards, she began working in partnership with her husband Roberto Di Carvalho, forever establishing a solo career. She has written and recorded pop rock songs with great success.

One of the most successful albums was “Rita Lee”, from 1979, with “Mania de Você”, “Chega mais” and “Doce Vampiro”. On the album of the same title the following year, she went in a more popular direction and had bigger hits with “Lança Perfume” and “Baila comigo”.

She was a rock singer before and after the genre became a commercial phenomenon in Brazil in the mid-1980s. Notable albums include “Saúde” (1981) and “Rita e Roberto” (1985), two of which featured the first rock in Rio stage.

Goodbye Rita Lee: Remembering the Unforgettable Partnerships of the Brazilian Queen of Rock

In 1991 a period of four years began with the exception of Roberto de Carvalho. Her comeback was in 1995, on the “A Marca da Zorra” album tour, when she also opened for the Rolling Stones in Brazil. The following year, they had a civil marriage after 20 years together.

In 1996, she fell from her farm porch under the influence of drugs, fracturing her maxillary gap. Rita began trying to quit alcohol and drugs, but told “Fantástico” she only managed to do so in January 2006.

In 2001, RIta Lee won a Latin Grammy for Best Portuguese-Language Rock Album with “3001”. She will still have five more Award nominations, and will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022.

In 2012, she announced that she would stop performing due to her physical weakness. “I quit concerts, but I never quit music,” she wrote on Twitter.

On January 28 of that year, at the Festival de Verão de Sergipe, she performed the show that was heralded as the last of her career, when she had a fight with a policeman. She was charged with contempt of authority and taken to the police station, then released.

Rita Lee never really toured again. But he still performed in the Federal District at the end of 2012, lowering his pants to the audience, and sang in memory of São Paulo in 2013, being applauded by the audience in his home city.

His latest New Studios album was released in April 2012. “Reza” was his first work of new songs in nine years. The title track was the work song, which I defined as “a prayer for protection from envy, wrath, and pestilence”.

In all, there have been 40 albums, 6 Mutants albums, and 34 in his solo career.


Singer-songwriter Rita Lee poses at the launch night of her autobiography at the Livraria Cultura do Conjunto Nacional, on Avenida Paulista, central São Paulo – Photo: Ale Frata / Código19 / Estadão PRODUTO

In 2016, she released Rita Lee: An Autobiography. Among the book’s revelations was that she was sexually abused at the age of six by a technician who came to fix her mother’s sewing machine at home.

In the book, a bestseller, she also talks honestly about episodes in her professional life, such as when she was fired from the Mutantes in 1972, and her personal life, such as her struggle with alcoholism.

In addition to her resume, Rita Lee has had a long career as a writer. The series “Dr. Alex” from 1983, but was re-released in 2019 and 2020 and focuses on the singer’s struggle for animal welfare and the environmental cause. In March 2023, she announced “another autobiography”, which has been pre-ordered.

She also wrote “Amiga Ursa: A Sad Story with a Happy Ending” in Children’s Literature. “Favorita”, “Droubs”, “Storinas” and “Rita Lyrica” ​​are other books written by the singer.

On television, Rita participated in the series “Top Model”, “Malo Molher”, “Vamp” and “Celebridad” in specials.

Cancer diagnosis

In May 2021, Rita Lee was diagnosed with lung cancer. I followed immunotherapy and radiotherapy.

Four months later, she released the last single of her career, “Changes”, in partnership with her husband Roberto Di Carvalho and producer Gui Boratto.

In April 2022, her son, Beto, wrote to me that she had been cured of cancer.

In recent years, she has lived with her family on a farm in the interior of São Paulo. She left three children: Roberto, Joao and Antonio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *