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Eulalio ‘Sax’ Cervantes, a virtuoso saxophonist and co-founder of iconic Mexican rock band Maldita Vecindad y Los Hijos del 5to Patio, has died of COVID-19 complications. He was 52 years old.

The news of his death was confirmed on Sunday (March 14) by his wife, Jessica Franco Landero, who wrote that Sax had “transcended from earth to find refugee in the arms of God. He begins to enjoy eternal life to interpret the best celestial notes for you and all of us. Rest in peace, our beloved Sax.”

Sax, born in San Luis Potosí, began his career at the early age of 11 playing the saxophone and clarinet in a youth orchestra. After playing at local events and parties, he moved to Mexico City in the mid-’80s where he’d eventually become a founding member of Maldita Vecindad comprised of frontman Roco, Sax, Pato, Aldo, Pacho, Tiki and Lobito.

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Their second album, El Circo (1991), produced by Gustavo Santaolalla, marked a before and after in the local rock en español scene in Mexico where the majority of the popular rock music was then coming in from countries such as Spain and Argentina. Featuring anthemic songs such as “Pachuco,” “Kumbala,” “Un Gran Circo” and “Solín” — all co-written by Cervantes and powered by his saxophone — the band went on to record four more albums where they deftly fused genres such as ska-punk and danzón. Their last one, Circular Colectivo, was released in 2009.

Most recently, just days before he passed, Sax released a solo song titled “Otros Nosotros” on March 5.

“When we met you I don’t know how old you were but you look so young, adolescent. With your hair, your smile, your sax and your incredible talent that flowed every time you played your instrument,” wrote Santaolalla on Twitter. “Your contribution to popular Mexican music, as you once said it, will only be rightly measured as time passes, but the emotion in what you did is still present in the thousands of hearts of a generation that grew up listening to you. Working with you was gratifying.”

Panteón Rococó’s saxophone player Missael Oseguera also remembered Sax — who sometimes would play two saxophones at the same time as seen in the video below — writing, “He’d always fight with his band members in order for me to go onstage to play with them. I owe him so much. You’ll always be present.”

See other reactions below:

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