Remembering Dax Diaz, a Stalwart of the Puerto Rican Underground Gone Too Soon

Lead Photo: Photo by Maria De Los Angeles
Photo by Maria De Los Angeles
Read more

There are parts of life that are just too cruel and unjust. Young people pass away every day, and pretty much all of them are nothing less than tragedies. It’s especially painful when young people pass away not only before they can experience adulthood, but also if they left things unfinished, more so when everyone recognized them for being exceptional at what they did.

Had things played out differently, today would have been Dax Diaz‘s birthday. His birthday is a cause for celebration not only for him and his immediate family, but for the Puerto Rican underground – if not all current Latin American music scenes – since he touched many lives. Dax was a musician that played in PR’s underground and was one of the most beloved figures of the scene, inspiring everyone around him, collaborating with many of his friends and fellow musicians. Diaz died in early 2014, and the void he left behind is felt more so than when he passed away.

Dax was an exceptional musician who wrote songs and played many shows with whoever was willing to join him. He had extensive musical knowledge, playing covers of long-forgotten songs from decades past; he used to wow people from other countries by playing traditional or old songs from their places of origin. Before his untimely passing, Diaz was working on what would have been his debut album, a two-disc opus that would feature songs with English lyrics on one half and songs in Spanish on the other. It remains unreleased.

He was a linchpin for all musicians in Puerto Rico, never shy to express admiration or willingness to hang out. He was a fixture in the local underground venue Casa Fantasmes where he usually played. He collaborated or shared the stage with many international artists, including Mexico’s Juan Cirerol, Chile’s Alex Anwandter and Dominican duo Las Acevedo, among others. He made a lasting impression on everyone who crossed paths with him. Sometimes, reading statements from musicians and people involved in the scene makes Dax seem like a legend rather than a real person. But he was real, and many songs all over the Internet are a testament to his talent. The Ecuadorian band Moshi Moshi was even inspired to make a tribute song about Diaz.

Although many of his songs survive and his music inspired many of his contemporaries to be better, his most lasting legacy seems to be an unending influence on the lives of the people who knew him.

AJ Dávila sums it up for most of the people who knew and loved Dax, and I’m sure many will agree with his words, as well as the vivid memories of times in particular they spent together: “When we recorded ‘Ya Sé,’ Dax was at my house; he drank with my grandfather. He is one of my favorites in PR. It’s an enormous tragedy that he’s gone so fast. He was a great human being and an incredible talent.”