Brazil’s “Queen of Rock” Rita Lee Jones has died at 75 at her home in Sao Paulo on Monday evening, according to a statement posted to her official Instagram account.
The singer gained an international following through her colorful and candid style and such hits as “Ovelha Negra,” “Mania de Você” and “Now Only Missing You”.
Her cause of death wasn’t immediately disclosed. She had retired from stage performances in the early 2010s in what she later attributed to physical frailty, and was diagnosed in 2021 with lung cancer, though her son announced a year later that she had defeated the illness.
With a career spanning six decades, the Sao Paulo native left a lasting mark with her irreverence, creativity and compositions containing messages that helped introduce Brazilian society to feminism, while also candidly addressing her struggles with drug abuse.
Although she regarded her voice as “weak and a little out of tune,′ like a sparrow’s, she enjoyed a long run of top-selling albums, including “Rita Lee” and “Rita Lee & Roberto de Carvalho,” and dozens of her songs were featured in widely watched telenovelas in Latin America.
The behemoth television network Globo used her rendition of the song “Poison Weed” (Poison Ivy) in three of its programs.
“I was not born to get married and wash underwear. I wanted the same freedom as the boys who used to play in the street with their toy cars,” she told the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone in 2008.
“When I got into music, I realized that the “machos” reigned absolute, even more in rock music. ‘Wow’, I said, ‘this is where I’m going to let my fangs out and, literally, give them a hard time.’”
She was a singer and songwriter praised for her versatility, playing at least five instruments: drums, guitar, piano, harmonica and autoharp. She was also one of the first Brazilian musicians to use electric guitar.