Simon Diaz, one of the most popular Venezuelan musicians and performers, died on Wednesday at the age of 85. Known as “Uncle Simon” to many for his role in the beloved television show Contesta Por Tio Simon, he sought to educate the next generations on Venezuelan folk music. He even won an honorary Latin Grammy lifetime achievement award as part of the class of 2008.
Born Simón Narciso Díaz Márquez in the state of Aragua, Diaz loved the life of rural Venezuela. One of the country’s most talented musicians, he was also a well respected composer, song writer, and singer. He has been professionally recording music since 1963 and worked on 70 different volumes of music. His sound inspired global appeal, even being sampled by German choreographer Pina Bausch who included some of Díaz’s songs in her workNur Du.
Simon Diaz is most famous for his work on the song Caballo Viejo, as performed by Gipsy Kings with the title Bamboleo. His infectious smile and outgoing personality made him a hit on both television and radio. Besides his role as Uncle Simon, he helped make 12 different television shows. The focus was always on promoting a love for “llanos”, Venezuelan plains folk music. For 25 years he hosted a daily radio show dedicated to the same purpose.
His daughter, Bettsimar Diaz, announced his passing via Twitter.
Con lágrimas le anuncio al país que mi amado padre, partió esta mañana, en paz.
— Bettsimar Díaz (@BettsimarDiaz) February 19, 2014
Roughly translated she said, “with tears I announce that my father left his beloved country alone.” The news of the passing of Simon Diaz was met with great sadness by fans of his music across the globe.
Lamentamos la partida de Simón Díaz, reconocido y respetado cantautor venezolano a nivel mundial. pic.twitter.com/Yh8LpZ0huU
— AcuáticoyAéreo (@AcuaticoyAereo) February 19, 2014
The great Simon Diaz has passed away. Will be remembered forever!
— Rolando Sarabia (@rjsarabias) February 19, 2014
En medio de tanto ruido, un silencio por el descanso de Simón Díaz. Pero antes Sabana QEPD http://t.co/lUjlXmpRn4
— Angel Ricardo Gómez (@argomezc) February 19, 2014
Diaz was more than a musician, he represented the music of a nation in many ways. He was awarded two separate honorary doctorate degrees and the highest honor from the Venezuelan government, “The Great Ribbon of the Liberator’s Order”. His passing is the end of an era in Venezuelan music, but his legacy will survive him for a long time.
Uncle Simon Diaz, gone at the age of 85.