Correction: Colombia-Telenovela Hit story

AP News
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Posted: Feb 21, 2015 1:48 PM
Correction: Colombia-Telenovela Hit story

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — In a story Feb. 20 about the late Colombian musician Diomedes Diaz, The Associated Press incorrectly reported his age at death. He was 56.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Colombia gripped by soap opera on musician's turbulent life

Colombians tune in for TV series depicting Diomedes Diaz's turbulent life onstage and off

By JACOBO G. GARCIA

Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A year after the death of musician Diomedes Diaz, Colombians are turning on their TV sets obsessed with the charisma and excesses of the country's best-known performer of accordion-heavy vallenato music

The singer-songwriter is being immortalized in a new hit telenovela called "The Chief of La Junta," which recounts his life from a poor upbringing in a town by the same name near the Caribbean coast to his international fame and struggle with drugs and alcohol.

The show is the most-popular prime-time series in two years, with average ratings doubling that of the competition.

"Starting at 9 p.m., the streets are empty," said Alberto Munoz, head of a cultural center in Diaz's hometown of Valledupar. "It's as if the national soccer team were playing."

In the best tradition of Colombian telenovelas, the show isn't without controversy.

Critics say the program glamorizes Diaz's reckless lifestyle, such as relationships with several women who gave birth to between 24 and 28 children — the exact count isn't clear — and jailing for trying to cover up the overdose death of a female fan at a cocaine-fueled party at his home.

But the show's defenders say that with warts and all, nobody represents the enormous talent and unfair fortune of violence-wracked Colombia better than Diomedes.

"Just like Argentina has Maradona, we have Diomedes," said biographer Salcedo Ramos, referring to the similarly polemical soccer legend Diego Maradona.

Diaz died in 2013 of a heart attack at age 56 having sold 20 million discs. He was awarded with a Latin Grammy for best vallenato album in 2010.

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Jacabo G. Garcia on Twitter: @jacobogg