Rita Lee, the pioneering Brazilian musician and co-founder of Os Mutantes, has passed away at the age of 75. The news of her passing was confirmed by her family in a statement shared on Instagram, in which they revealed that Lee had been battling lung cancer since her diagnosis in 2021. The statement further noted that Lee died at her home in São Paulo, surrounded by her loved ones. The loss of such an influential artist has left the music world reeling.
Lee was widely known as the “Queen of Rock” in Brazil and had a career spanning over six decades. Her contribution to the Tropicália movement was groundbreaking, as she, along with Arnaldo Baptista and Sérgio Dias Baptista, formed Os Mutantes and played a pivotal role in blending Brazilian and African influences with British and American pop rock and psychedelic rock. The movement was a response to the oppressive military dictatorship in Brazil during the 1960s, and Lee’s music was known for being fiercely political, speaking out against the regime and its actions.
Apart from her work with Os Mutantes, Lee had a successful solo career, releasing numerous albums that sold millions of copies. She was an accomplished musician, and her talent earned her numerous accolades and honors throughout her life. In Brazil, she was not only admired for her music but also for her advocacy for social causes and women’s rights.
Despite her impressive achievements, Lee remained modest about her accomplishments. In a 2020 interview with Rolling Stone Brasil, she expressed her preference for being called the “patron saint of freedom” rather than the “Queen of Rock,” which she found a little tacky. Her humility, paired with her talent and influence, has endeared her to her fans and fellow artists alike.
In the wake of her passing, tributes have poured in from across Brazil and the world, with fans and fellow musicians mourning her loss. Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva hailed her as one of the country’s most brilliant musical talents, while Manuel Abdu, CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, praised her as a visionary artist and one of the best-selling singer/songwriters in the history of Brazil.
Lee’s impact on music and culture is immeasurable, and her legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire generations of artists to come. Her passing marks the end of an era, but her music will live on forever.