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Argentine rock star Gustavo Cerati dies after 4 years in coma

A woman places flowers on a poster of Argentine musician Gustavo Cerati that reads in Spanish:

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A woman places flowers on a poster of Argentine musician Gustavo Cerati that reads in Spanish: "Waiting for you," outside the clinic where he was hospitalized in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. Cerati died at the age of 55 on Thursday, according to the singer's family. The Soda Stereo lead singer had been in a coma since May 15, 2010 when he suffered a stroke following a performance in Caracas, Venezuela. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Argentine rock star Gustavo Cerati died on Thursday, four years after a stroke put him in a coma and ended the career of one of Latin America's most influential musicians.

The 55-year old was the former lead singer of the Argentine rock band Soda Stereo, which was among the most popular groups in the Spanish-speaking world in the 1980s and 1990s.

Cerati was born on August 11, 1959, in Buenos Aires and formed his first band before the age of 10. Many of the melodies recorded during his childhood became the inspiration for songs later played by Soda Stereo.

Cerati met band members Charly Alberti and Hector "Zeta" Bosio during their college years when they began swapping records of artists such as The Police, XTC and Elvis Costello.

They formed Soda, as the band was known to fans, in 1982, just as Argentina was emerging from a long and brutal military dictatorship. Their first album, a fresh sound with heavy influences of new wave and punk, was released in 1984.

Soda Stereo broke up in 1997, but Cerati continued a successful solo career until he suffered a stroke following a 2010 performance in Venezuela.

Cerati died from a respiratory arrest at the ALCLA hospital in Buenos Aires, director Gustavo Barbalace said. He thanked the singer's mother Lilian for remaining by her son's side for four years and never losing faith that one day he would return to life.

"(Gustavo's) mom is an example of a constant struggle," an emotional Barbalace told reporters outside the hospital. "I wish there were more Lilians in this world."

Cerati won several accolades, including several Latin Grammys and MTV music awards.

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