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Subject: Buena Vista Social Club guitarist Manuel Galban dies

Written By: Philip Eno on 07/10/11 at 5:59 am

Buena Vista Social Club guitarist Manuel Galban has died in Havana after suffering a heart attack aged 80.

The Grammy Award-winning musician first found fame as part of the popular Los Zafiros group in the 1960s.

But it was his part in the group of elderly musicians brought together in 1996 that brought him international recognition.

Galban's manager said it was "a very sad day for Cuban music and fans of Cuban music".

"Galban's enormous impact worldwide with his unique guitar sound and warm smile will be missed by many," he said in a statement.

Born in 1931 in the small village of Gibara, Galban made his professional debut aged 14 with the Orquesta Villa Blanca and moved to Havana in 1956 to play in the clubs and bars of the capital city.

Seven years later he joined Los Zafiros, which fused various styles of music such as bolero, calypso and rock with Cuban "filin" music.

After they disbanded in 1972, Galban spent the next three years as head of Cuba's national music ensemble.

As part of the Buena Vista Social Club - which was brought together by American guitarist and producer Ry Cooder - Galban enjoyed success with a hit album.

The group was later the subject of a documentary by filmmaker Wim Wenders profiling the musicians whose talents had all but been forgotten.

In 2003 the guitarist teamed up with Cooder to record Mambo Sinuendo, which won a Grammy the following year for best pop instrumental album.

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