Os Paralamas do Sucesso

By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Last month, Brazilian rock band, Os Paralamas do Sucesso, played a sell out show at one of Rio’s most spectacular venues on top the Morro da Urca. The band is scheduled to return to Rio next month for a series of shows throughout the state and will play at the Olaria Atlético Clube in the city’s north zone on May 8th.

Os Paralamas do Sucesso, photo by of Olimor/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

Os Paralamas, who some consider one of the top four Brazilian rock bands of all time, exploded onto Rio’s music scene in 1983 with the single ‘Vital E Sua Moto’ (Vital and his Motorbike). The combination of tongue-in-cheek lyrics and ska rhythms characterized the band’s early output.

The single aired prolifically on Rádio Fluminense, the station responsible for launching the careers of a number of Brazil’s biggest bands of the time, and the band played their first major gig supporting Lulu Santos at the Circo Voador later that year.

Over the years the band, comprising Herbert Vianna on guitar and lead vocals, Bi Ribeiro on the bass, and João Barone on drums, has accumulated various accolades including a host of MTV Music awards and four Latin Grammy Awards. They found commercial and critical success first at home in Brazil, and later in Argentina where their Spanish language records became a huge hit.

Frontman Herbert Vianna, photo by Dimang Kon Beu/Agencia Minas/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

However, on February 4th 2001, at the height of the band’s success, everything came to a grinding halt when the light aircraft that Vianna was piloting above the bay at Angra dos Reis spun out of control and fell from the sky. His wife and the mother of his children, English journalist Lucy Needham Vianna, was killed, and the singer was left paralyzed below the waist, brain-damaged and comatose. The country watched in horror as he fought for life in Copacabana’s Copa D’Or hospital.

In a frighteningly prescient statement, captured on film in the early days of the band’s success, Vianna is recorded saying, “I have an enormous capacity to conquer…even if we quit or a tragedy happens…I would start all over again with the music or something else and would achieve it all again.”

So in late 2002, in the midst of a long and arduous rehabilitation, the band began rehearsals again. By the end of the year they had released ‘Longo Caminho’ (Long Path) – an album of songs written before the accident which Vianna describes as, “The album of my rebirth.”

Since then Os Paralamas have produced a number of albums including ‘Hoje’ (Today) in 2005 and their latest offering, ‘Brasil Afora’ (Brazil Outside) in 2009. These days Vianna takes to the stage in his wheelchair from where he cuts a pensive and almost otherworldly figure. His singing voice, which was left weak and out of tune in the aftermath of his accident, has slowly rediscovered its former lilt.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see one of the legends of Brazilian rock in concert. See www.osparalamas.uol.com.br for gigs and further details.

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