(Photo : Twitter / @losindiscretosof)
Saxophone player Eddie "The Bullet" Perez, a founding member of renowned salsa band El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, died on Friday, his daughter announced.
Mariel Perez said the musician died at a Puerto Rican hospital from a blood infection following a foot amputation, NBC Latino reported. According to EFE agency, his right leg was amputated due to complications from diabetes.
"To the people of Puerto Rico and to the world of salsa: This morning, Eddie 'La Bala' Perez Lopez moved on to a better life," read a statement posted on El Gran Combo's official Facebook page.
According to his daughter, Perez made his debut at age 13 and had played the saxophone for more than 60 years. She did not provide information on the late musician's age, but according to EFE, he was 77 years old.
"Beyond his career, the larger footprint he leaves behind his passing can be summarized in two words: humility and loyalty," said his daughter, according to Univision.
Perez reportedly sued several members of El Gran Combo, including his group co-founder and lifelong friend Rafael Ithier, for having dismissed him unjustly. However, Ithier denied ever firing Perez, according to EFE.
"It's not easy; we've been together for almost 50 years. Despite the differences we are like brothers. It's very unfortunate," said Ithier during an interview with TV show "Lo Sé Todo," Primera Hora reported.
Perez was one of the two remaining original members of El Gran Combo, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, the Huffington Post reported. His nickname, "La Bala" (The Bullet), came from some grownup who started calling him that because he ran around so fast when he was a little boy, EFE reported.
Last December, during an interview with EFE, the musician recalled his first musical instrument was the flute but that he didn't really like it, replacing it with the clarinet. But he finally decided on the saxophone because it was easier to play.
It was that instrument that took him all over the world representing Puerto Rico in a more than 60 years career.
The band was founded in 1962 by Ithier, Perez and Roberto Roena, after the three musicians broke with Rafael Cortijo's band, with which they played for eight years. Throughout its career, El Gran Combo released 40 albums and won a Grammy award for Best Tropical Album in 2003.