Mexican Cumbia Legend Celso Piña Has Died

Lead Photo: Creative Commons "Celso Piña @ Yaam” by Montecruz Foto is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Creative Commons "Celso Piña @ Yaam” by Montecruz Foto is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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Celso Piña, one of the most iconic figures of Mexican cumbia, died Wednesday, August 21 of a heart attack in his hometown of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. He was 66. An official statement from La Tuna Records confirmed the news.

Piña was born April 6, 1953. He began his musical career when his father gifted him an accordion he had restored as a birthday present to young Celso. He then went to play different styles of music, including tropical salsa and norteño, but he found his true passion in the ’80s when he encountered cumbia, becoming a cult figure in the scene thanks to his releases and shows with his outfit, Celso Piña y su Ronda Bogotá in the ‘80s. In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, he found a wider audience when he collaborated with rock figures, such as Café Tacvba and former Control Machete emcee Pato Machete, the latter featured in Piña’s signature song, “Cumbia Sobre El Río.” He would go on to link up with such diverse figures as Natalia Lafourcade, Lila Downs, Grupo Pesado and Gloria Trevi.

Known as “El Rebelde Del Acordeón,” Piña never stopped playing music, having recently appeared at the Surf Music Festival in Acapulco on July 4, 2019. He spread the gospel of cumbia far and wide, while showing a willingness to experiment and work with other genres of music. Onstage, he was a titanic figure, always smiling and spreading good vibes.

RIP to a legend.