Rodrigo Bueno was a popular Argentinian singer in the genre known as cuarteto. He died on June 24, 2000 in a suspicious vehicular accident, at the age of 27 years and 31 days. As a performer he was known simply as Rodrigo, or by his Spanish nickname El Potro, which means the colt. He broke from tradition with his clothing, hairstyle and stage show, bringing a modern, almost new-wave flair to the traditional music.
The music he was a leading exponent of grew from Italian and Spanish dance accompaniment in which the common band was a 4 piece consisting of bass, accordion, violin and piano. As it grew and developed, the genre incorporated more modern instruments and backup singers. Songs in cuarteto style are invariably upbeat and danceable, and he was known for his energetic performances and individual approach to the form. At one point, Rodrigo’s group had 14 members and 4 singers, giving him the ability to make a large sound and put on a lively show. Another peculiarity of cuateto is that it originated in and became synonymous with the city of Cordoba, Argentina, but was loved all over the country and beyond.
Rodrigo began his life’s path at such an early age that he would be considered a prodigy in any serious musical endeavor – his debut on television happened when he was 2 years old. At the age of 5, he released an album of children’s songs, recorded by his father, who was a music business impresario. After leaving school at 12 years of age and trying to make a success of a group for several years, he began working his way towards a solo career in cuarteto. He soon signed a contract with Sony records and immediately began having hits. After several hit albums, a demanding schedule of live concerts and a life on the road apparently caused Rodrigo to begin drinking to excess. While his performances were compromised in quality, he also started getting death threats from rivals due to his huge popularity and alleged involvement with criminal figures.
Following a performance in the summer of 2000, Rodrigo was heading back to Buenos Aires driving his SUV when he was cut off on the highway by another vehicle. In the back and forth road rage that resulted Rodrigo tried to get ahead of the other driver again and lost control at high speed. He hit a barrier, was thrown from his car, and died instantly. There was widespread speculation about foul play in his death, but an investigation concluded that the fault of the accident was his alone. His death at 27 after a meteoric rise to fame, alcohol abuse, and possible ties to a shady underworld followed an unfortunately typical pattern for forever 27 club members, even if his life and death took place in a country and culture far removed from most of the western world and the rock and roll scene.
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