Alberto Cortez, the famed Argentine singer/songwriter, has died at the age of 79. Cortez tragically passed away on April 4 in the Spanish capital of Madrid where had been living. Spanish newspaper El Pais reports that Cortez’s cause of death was a gastric hemorrhage. The El Pais report says that Cortez had been admitted to the Hospital Puerta del Sur in the Madrid neighborhood of Mostoles on March 27.
On April 5, Cortez had been scheduled to perform at the National Theater of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and then in Puerto Rico shortly afterward as part of a Latin American tour. The promoter of the Puerto Rican show, Yolanda Diaz, told El Nuevo Dia in Puerto Rico that she had been informed of Cortez’s passing from fellow singer Daniel Frega. Diaz said, via Google Translate, “Daniel told me that he wrote me. We are very sorry for his departure and this took us by surprise. The world loses a poet of the song and a great writer.” When pressed for details around Cortez’s death, Diaz said it was his family’s responsibility to give out the acts surround Cortez’s death.
Cortez will be remembered for his hit Spanish-language songs such as, “Castillos en el aire” and “Cuando un amigo se va.” During his six-decade-long career, Cortez recorded close to fifty albums, beginning in 1961. In 2000, Cortez released a five-disc box-set celebration of his work. At the time of his death, CNN named “A Mis Amigos” as Cortez’s best song.
His first album was recorded in the Belgian city of Antwerp. From there, Cortez eventually settled in Madrid in 1967. Cortez regularly toured in the United States, Latin America and across Spain. He was honored in 2007 with a Latin Grammy Award for musical excellence. While in 2015, Cortez was awarded the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts from the Spanish Ministry of Culture.
La Nacion referred to Cortez as “The singer of simple things” in their feature on the singer’s death. He had been born Jose Alberto Garcia Gallo in the town of Rancul, 400 miles west for of Buenos Aires, close to the Chilean border.
In 1996, Cortez suffered a stroke due to heart issues while he was performing in Mar del Plata. Pagina 12 reports that at the time, Cortez was clinically dead before being revived. His health was such a national issue that the then-president of Argentina, Carlos Menem, got involved to ensure that Cortez was given the best medical treatment available.
Cortez’s friendship with fellow singer Facundo Cabral was renowned. That friendship is covered in great detail in journalist Laura Etcheverry’s extensive autobiography on the singer, “Alberto Cortez Life.” Etcheverry has said in the past that she worked on the book for four years.
According to his official website, Cortez met his wife, Renee Govaerts while performing in the Belgian town of Aarschot, her hometown, in 1960. The couple engaged in 1961 and were wed in 1964 in the same town where they had met.