- Associated Press - Friday, September 5, 2014

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - Hundreds of tearful fans crowded outside a Buenos Aires cemetery on Friday as close friends and relatives of Gustavo Cerati said their final good-bye to the Argentine rock star.

Cerati, among Latin America’s most influential musicians, was buried at a private ceremony his family organized at La Chacarita cemetery, where tango great Carlos Gardel is also laid to rest. Cerati, 55, died on Thursday, four years after a stroke put him in a coma.

Thousands of people gathered in the Argentine capital to mourn shortly after news that the former lead singer of the rock band Soda Stereo had died. They sang the group’s songs, prayed and delivered flowers in a line that stretched for 15 city blocks. Fans continued to arrive Friday and joined the procession to the cemetery in the heavy rain.

The fans, many in their 20s and 30s, waved flags, wore T-shirts with Cerati’s image and climbed up trees to get a better view of the cortege. Some threw flowers at the roof of the hearse, others tried to see inside the windows for a look at the coffin.

Close friends, including musician and former Soda Stereo band member Hector “Zeta” Bosio, were among those at the funeral. Local TV showed images of Cerati’s mother, Lilian Clark, smiling faintly and giving a thumb’s up as she left the cemetery.

President Cristina Fernandez tweeted that Cerati, along with late Argentine rocker Luis Alberto Spinetta, were “popular idols for generations of Argentines.”

Cerati was born on Aug. 11, 1959, in Buenos Aires and formed his first band before the age of 10. Many of the melodies recorded during his childhood became the inspiration for songs later played by Soda Stereo.

The group was formed in 1982, just as Argentina was emerging from a military dictatorship, and became one of the most popular groups in the Spanish-speaking world in the 1980s and 1990s. The band broke up in 1997, but Cerati continued a successful solo career until he suffered a stroke after a 2010 performance in Venezuela.

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