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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 16:38 GMT
Buena Vista singer Pio Leyva dies
Pio Leyva
Pio Leyva was also a respected composer
Cuban singer Pio Leyva, who gained global fame with the Buena Vista Social Club group, has died at the age of 88.

Leyva died of a heart attack on Wednesday evening, just days after suffering a stroke, his family said.

His work with the late guitarist Compay Segundo - perhaps the best known of the Buena Vista group - stretched back to the early 1950s.

They joined forces again in the late 1990s when the Grammy award-winning Buena Vista group was formed.

Twilight rise

Leyva showed early promise as a child, winning a bongo competition at the age of six.

He went on to sing with Cuban legends including the late Beny More and Bebo Valdes, and collaborated on more than 25 albums.

The Buena Vista Social Club group found international fame after being promoted by the US guitarist Ry Cooder and released Buena Vista Social Club album.

The album rekindled an international interest in traditional Cuban music.

The story of their late-life rise to international fame was told in the Oscar-nominated documentary of the same name by German director Wim Wenders.

Leyva is the fourth member of the band to die in the past three years.

Segundo and pianist Ruben Gonzalez died in 2003, while singer Ibrahim Ferrer died in a Havana hospital in August 2005.

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