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Argentina's 'Elvis' Sandro has left the casa

The 'Elvis' of Argentina, singer and movie icon Sandro (Roberto Sanchez), died Monday. Tens of thousands turned out in Buenos Aires to remember the Latin American star credited with cracking the US pop music scene.

By Taylor BarnesCorrespondent / January 7, 2010

In this undated file photo, Argentina's popular singer Roberto Sánchez, better known as Sandro, performs in Buenos Aires. Mr. Sánchez, the first Latin American to sing in Madison Square Garden, died Monday.

AP

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Thousands of Argentines thronged the streets of Buenos Aires Wednesday, singing and tossing red roses on a black hearse.

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It may sound like a scene from the musical "Evita," but they were crying for the 'Elvis' of Argentina, "Sandro."

Some 50,000 paid their respects to Roberto Sánchez, the name given to the star when he was born in 1945, Tuesday and Wednesday in a 24-hour stream through the Salón de los Pasos Perdidos in the Argentine Congress, according to the Argentine daily Clarín.

Sandro was the first Latin American artist to play in Madison Square Garden – in the 1970s – according to the Associated Press. Other Latin performers – Shakira (Colombia), Luis Miguel (Puerto Rico), Maná (Mexico), Juanes (Colombia), and Daddy Yankee (Puerto Rico) – have followed.

Sandro won a Latin Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement award in 2005. He had recorded dozens of albums and starred in at least 13 films since beginning his career in the 1960s.

Porteños (residents of the Buenos Aires, for gringos), Argentines, and Latin Americans across the region gathered to pay tribute to the performer. ("He used to say, 'I don't want them to cry for me when I go on to eternity. I want you to remember me with the same happiness'," a fan sang in Spanish to BBC Mundo in Buenos Aires. It was a lyric in his bubbly foot-tapper "Una muchacha y una guitarra.")

Sandro's departure, note some commentators, is an occasion to highlight how far Latino musicians have penetrated into the US pop music scene in the decades since his Madison Square Garden show. In the US today, gringos and hispanohablantes alike sing along to Daddy Yankee's popular chorus, "Dame más gasolina," and Juanes's "La Camisa Negra" is a college party staple.

Check out this retro hip-swivelling performance of his popular rock song "Rosa, Rosa" and see if the Elvis comparison isn't spot on.

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