João Gilberto, a Leading Light of Bossa Nova, Is Dead at 88
At the same time, in pop songs like Eydie Gormé’s “Blame It on the Bossa Nova,” bossa nova meant something different: exotic and slightly upmarket, with a newly American-made social dance to go along with it. By the end of 1963, the ethnomusicologist Kariann Goldschmitt has written, the phrase had been used to advertise “cashmere sweaters, throw rugs, ice cream and new haircuts.”
With Astrud (Weinert) Gilberto, whom he had married in 1959, Mr. Gilberto took up residence in the United States in 1963. That year he collaborated with Getz on the album “Getz/Gilberto,” which included the Jobim-de Moraes song “Garota da Ipanema,” sung by both Astrud (in English) and João (in Portuguese); released as “The Girl From Ipanema,” the song became an enormous hit and won the 1964 Grammy Award for record of the year. (“Getz/Gilberto” was named album of the year.)
After divorcing Astrud and marrying another singer, Heloísa Buarque de Holanda, known in her own career as Miúcha, in 1965, Mr. Gilberto moved to Weehawken, N.J., and then to Brooklyn. In 1970 the couple relocated to Mexico, where during a two-year stay he recorded the album “João Gilberto en Mexico.” He then returned to the United States, where he stayed until returning to Brazil in 1980. (Mr. Gilberto and Miúcha separated in the mid-1970s.)
In the years away from Brazil, Mr. Gilberto widened his repertoire both forward and backward to accommodate a few of the great Brazilian songwriters who succeeded him as well as sambas and even boleros from before the bossa nova period. His best work included the minimal, transfixing “João Gilberto” (often referred to as the “white album”) in 1973 and the strings-drenched “Amoroso” in 1977; by the 1980s many of his recordings were of solo live performances. For a major figure, he produced relatively little: fewer than 10 studio albums under his own name in about 60 years of professional work.
He was championed by the generation of Brazilian songwriters that followed him, including Mr. Veloso, Moraes Moreira and Gilberto Gil. His final studio album was “João Voz e Violão” (2000), produced by Mr. Veloso. A few seconds more than half an hour long, it was a mixture of his own old repertoire and songs by Mr. Veloso and Mr. Gil, ending with another version of “Chega de Saudade.”
Mr. Gilberto lived an extremely private life in Rio de Janeiro, which fascinated the Brazilian news media. In 2004 he had a daughter, Luisa Carolina, with his manager, Cláudia Faissol.