Jairo Varela, singer and founder of legendary Colombian salsa band Grupo Niche, has died, local police announced Wednesday.
According to authorities in the city of Cali, the 62-year-old singer was found dead in his bath tub, after suffering a heart attack. The Quibdo-born singer had been experiencing heart problems for some time.
Varela had been involved in music since he was eight-years-old and co-founded Grupo Niche in 1978. His orchestra is one of Colombia’s most famous salsa bands and considered exemplary of the Cali sound.
According to Culture Minister Mariana Garces, Varela “succeeded in establishing Cali’s name in salsa.” Fellow “salsero” Fruko told radio station Caracol Radio the death of Varela was a “hard blow” for music and Colombian artists. “One of the men who gave class to salsa has gone,” the musician said.