Colombians mourn death of star vallenato performer

December 23, 2013 • Entertainment

Luz Consuelo Martinez, wife of singer and composer Diomedes Diaz, top left, mourns over his coffin at the main square in Valledupar, in Colombia’s northern state of Cesar, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. Diaz, one of the greatest performers of Colombia’s vallenato music, died Sunday. He was 56. (AP Photo/Adamis Guerra)

BOGOTA, Colombia [auth] (AP) — Colombians mourned on Monday over the death of musician Diomedes Diaz, the best-known performer of the country’s accordion-heavy vallenato music.

Hundreds of people swarmed around a firetruck that carried his body for display in the main square of Valledupar, the singer-songwriter’s hometown.

Mayor Fredys Soccaras told Venezuela’s Caracol radio that Diaz died Sunday of a heart attack after being rushed to a hospital. He was 56.

From a poor childhood on a farm near Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Diaz rose to become one of the top-selling artists of the musical genre revered in Colombia. He was honored with a Latin Grammy for best vallenato album in 2010.

Diaz was also known for his off-stage excesses, including a lifelong battle with drugs and alcohol and a conviction for trying to cover up the overdose death of a fan at his home.

His death came three days after he released a new CD.

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