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See Os Mutantes Tomorrow Night at Webster Hall

October 7th, 2009

Brothers Arnaldo Baptista (bass, keys and vocals) and Sergio Dias Baptista (guitar and vocals) and Rita Lee (lead singer) formed Os Mutantes in São Paulo in 1966. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone heavily influenced the band, and as part of the Tropicalismo movement, the Brazilian rockers became one of the first groups to mix psychedelia with Latin rhythms. They added a drummer and bassist to the mix and spent the next few years releasing albums and touring. Then Lee left the band in 1972 to start a solo career. And the following year, Arnaldo, battling LSD abuse, also left to go solo. (He was later institutionalized and survived a leap from a sixth-floor window.)

Eventually, in 1978, the band fell apart. And that’s the way things would remain for quite some time. Although, Os Mutantes’ music-industry cred still remained: Beck endorsed the band, and Kurt Cobain admired them so much that when Nirvana played Brazil, he sent a fan letter to Arnaldo, encouraging him to reunite the group. Since then, David Byrne has published and promoted Os Mutantes through his world-music label, Luaka Bop. The Baptista brothers, seizing on new interest in the band, reunited and played their first Os Mutantes show—since 1978—in 2006. They even have a new album, Haih Or Amortecedor, which came out last month. Check out the album’s trailer, above, and then go see Os Mutantes tomorrow night at Webster Hall.