Rita Lee, considered one of the greatest singers and songwriters in the history of Brazil, died on the night of Monday, May 8, at the age of 75. In 2021, the singer was diagnosed with lung cancer.
The news was confirmed this Tuesday morning, through a statement shared on the official social networks of the singer and her husband, Roberto de Carvalho: “We announce the death of Rita Lee, at her residence, in São Paulo, capital, in the late last night, surrounded by all the love of her family, as she always wanted”.
The wake is scheduled for this Wednesday (10), from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (local time). “According to Rita’s wishes, her body will be cremated. The ceremony will be private. In this moment of deep sadness, the family is grateful for everyone’s care and love,” the statement concluded.
In its online edition, Folha de São Paulo recalls a text by the singer about death. “When I die, I can imagine the words of affection from those who hate me. Some radio stations will play my songs without charging ‘jabá’. Fans, those sincere ones, will pick up my records and chant ‘Ovelha Negra’, the TVs must already have one up their sleeves. summary of my journey. In virtual networks, some will say: ‘Wow, I thought the ‘old lady’ had already died [risos]”, wrote the artist in her autobiography.
Rita Lee, dubbed as the ‘queen of Brazilian rock’, is known for songs such as “Ovelha Negra”, “Mania de Você”, “Lança Perfume”, “Agora Só Poder Você”, “Baila Comigo”, “Banho de Espuma “, “Sorry the Auê”, “Poisonous Herb”, “Love and Sex”, “Reza”, “Beautiful Boy”, “Flagra” and “Sweet Vampire”.
Always ahead of her time, the artist was considered a reference of female creativity and independence. The title of “queen of Brazilian rock” arrived almost at the beginning of her career, but the singer found it “ridiculous” – she preferred to be treated as 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 immigrants from the United States. Her mother, the Italian Romilda Padula, was a pianist, and she was the one who encouraged her daughter to learn music.
At the age of 16, the Brazilian joined the Teenage Singers trio, and performed several concerts at school parties. In small performances, singer and producer Tony Campello discovered the singers and invited them to record as backing vocals.
In 1964, Rita Lee joined the group Six Sided Rockers which, after some line-up changes, gave rise to Mutantes. The end of her relationship with Arnaldo Baptista coincided with the artist’s departure from the band.
After Os Mutantes, the artist joined the Tutti Frutti group, having recorded five albums, with emphasis on “Fruto prohibited”, from 1975.
In 1979, the singer edited her first solo album “Build up”, even before leaving the group. Rita Lee also edited “Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life”, in 1972, still recorded with the band.
Throughout her solo career, the artist edited several albums that became references in Brazilian music, such as “Rita Lee” (1979), “Saúde” (1981) and “Rita e Roberto” (1985), which was presented on stage of the first edition of Rock in Rio, in Rio de Janeiro.
In October 2008, Rolling Stone magazine highlighted the singer in the List of the 100 Greatest Artists of Brazilian Music.
In 2016, the singer published an autobiography where she addressed excesses, her relationship with her family, the times of the dictatorship and life on stage. In Portugal, the work had a preface by Rui Reininho.
Published in Brazil in 2016, the book follows the growth and aging of one of the Brazilian rock figures, with references to censorship in Brazil, a stint in prison, life on the road with Os Mutantes – one of the greatest psychedelic rock groups born in Brazil -, solo career and activism in defense of animals.
“‘An autobiography’ is the biography of a Brazil that undergoes very rapid transformations, which sees the growth of Brasília and the military repressors in power, the canaval cornucopia and censorship, the innate talent of a people for music, the rhythm in improvisation, in composition, in cachaça and champa, in myth and capoeira, in football and chop!”, exclaimed Rui Reininho, from GNR, in the preface.
Among the dozens of short episodes reported, with almost no reference to dates, Rita Lee recalls one of her first visits to Portugal, when Os Mutantes gave a concert at Teatro Villaret, in Lisbon, in the first part of a performance by Edu Lobo.
“Our presentation went well, despite the Portuguese public thinking we were Argentine”, recalled Rita Lee, adding that at the end of the concert they cut the electricity cables, boycotting Edu Lobo’s performance.
In the book, Rita Lee, shamelessly and directly, recounts an episode of rape in childhood, speaks openly about drug use and the lasting relationship with her life partner, Roberto Carvalho.
“I don’t make Madalena repentant with a little anti-drug speech, I don’t blame myself for having entered many, I am proud to have left them all. I recognize that my best songs were composed in an altered state, the worst too”, he writes in the book.
At the mercy of memory, the artist writes that “the altar of the stage is addictive, the safest place to live dangerously”, admits to being very self-critical in relation to vocal talent, but recalls the day when João Gilberto told her that the voice hers was “bossanoveira”.
In the end, the author even imagines what will happen when she dies – “no politician will dare to attend my wake” – and leaves her own epitaph: “She was never a good example, but she was good people”.