Gabriel Ruiz Díaz, the story of a fighter who did not give up

Gabriel Ruiz Díaz died this Saturday, at age 45 Credit: Instagram

«Loves … today Gabi left», wrote this Saturday morning the guitarist and singer of Catupecu Machu, Fernando Ruiz Díaz, in an emotional post that he published on Instagram. This was confirmed by the news that had already started to spread on social networks: his brother Gabriel, a former bass player in his band, died at age 45 in the city of Santa Fe, where he had lived for some time with his mother, Dominga, and his therapeutic companion.

Gabriel Ruiz Díaz was born on April 19, 1975 in Buenos Aires and in 1994, together with his older brother, he formed one of the fundamental groups of Argentine rock in the late 90’s. He played bass, sang and also took care of the production and computer arrangements with which Catupecu Machu began to experiment with from his third album, Cuadros within Cuadros.

His magnetic presence on stage and that way of playing bass, always as if it were the last time, was very well recorded on the DVD Eso Vive (2002), a selection of songs from what was the band’s first presentation in the Obras Sanitarias Stadium, on December 15, 2001, just a few days before the social and political outbreak that was going to mark a before and after in our country. Catupecu Machu was one of the soundtracks of those troubled years and its energetic, almost cathartic recitals became the obligatory appointment of an audience that did not stop growing.

The accident

In the early morning hours of March 31, 2006, after spending the night at The Roxy bowling alley, Gabriel was driving his Volkswagen Fox down Avenida Del Libertador, in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Palermo. In the passenger seat was his friend César Andino, singer of the band Cabezones. At 6:10 am, the musician turned at Sarmiento, lost control of the car and hit a tree square. The two were trapped in the deformed bodywork of the vehicle, but paramedics managed to get them out alive.

The hours after the accident were traumatic. The April 3 medical report indicated that Gabriel had suffered « a severe facial trauma and pulmonary contusion. » They operated on him at the Fernández Hospital to remove a clot from his head, but he had to remain in intensive care. The fans of Catupecu Machu organized prayer chains and gathered on the steps of the Fernández to be close to their idol. He was interned there for more than six months. but he would never fully recover.

Andino, for his part, had suffered fractures in both legs and underwent multiple operations. Before long, he knew: he was going to have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. In May of that year, the Cabezones singer gave his first interview and recounted how the accident was: «The only thing I remember is Gabi’s beautiful smile, which is the one she puts on when we’re in trouble. Before crashing, we couldn’t control the car and he looked at me and smiled at me. It was seconds and we couldn’t help it. They are those things of destiny, « he said in communication with FM Mega 98.3.

And he added: «We were about to go out to play in Bariloche and a curve took us to another side. And he laughed, so is he. Gabi; in the worst storm, he always has the best smile. I was conscious the whole time, I started screaming and immediately people were there [.]. Gabi is a person with inner light, those of us who know him see him as a little teacher, and I think he has a devastating inner strength. I knew he was going to leave, everything was very negative when we got to the hospital and I knew it couldn’t be like that, that God would have been furious with us, two people who play music. I know that Gabi is going to wake up ».

After his stay at the Fernández, Gabriel was transferred to a private rehabilitation clinic in Escobar. In between, Catupecu Machu continued to play live thanks to the help of musician friends. Barely 22 days had passed since the accident when the band appeared before more than 10,000 people at the Obras discovered stadium. Gabriel’s instrument was taken over by Diego Arnedo (Divided), Fabián « Zorrito » Von Quintiero (Paranoid Mice) and Zeta Bosio (Soda Stereo).

In 2007 Gabriel spoke his first words: « hello » and « mom. » He also greeted one of the orderlies. His brother Fernando said in an interview that « against all odds, Gabriel continues to fight. » « He puts on his hat only, adjusts his glasses and moves his hands when they put his bass on him, » he said. In 2011 he could be seen among the public at a recital by the band. And each time they asked him, Fernando assured that his brother was showing signs of improvement thanks to rehabilitation and music therapy.

As fate would have it, the life of Gabriel Ruiz Díaz ends on the Day of the Musician, which is celebrated in Argentina every January 23 in honor of the birth of Luis Alberto Spinetta, one of his idols. In the farewell post, his brother wrote: «One day in an interview they asked him which was the album he liked the most in the history of our beloved Argentine rock and Gabi said ‘Artaud, by Luis Alberto Spinetta ‘. Surely he must be waiting for you so that with your four magic strings you can do what you loved most in your wonderful and incredible life, bass and music ».

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