Legendary singer, actor and music director SP Balasubrahmanyam died on Friday in Chennai. He was 74. He is survived by his wife Savitri, his son SPB Charan, who is an actor and producer, and his daughter Pallavi.

Balasubrahmanyam had tested positive for Covid-19 on August 5. He had initially shown signs of recovery, and tested negative for the virus on September 4. However, he remained in hospital because of poor health.

MGM Healthcare, where he was admitted, said that the singer’s condition deteriorated and he suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest. “With profound grief, we regret to inform that he has passed away on September 25 at 1.04 pm,” a statement said.

Balasubrahmanyam’s legacy spans several decades, film industries and languages. He is associated with some of the most iconic film songs in his native tongue Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi. He recorded over 40,000 songs, won six National Film Awards, and received the Padma Shri in 2001 and the Padma Bhushan in 2011.

Born Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam on June 4, 1946, in Nellore, he trained as an engineer but pursued his interest in singing throughout college. In 1966, he sang his first film song for the Telugu movie Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna. Over the years, he became one of southern cinema’s busiest playback singers. He performed with some of the most well-known music composers in the business, including MS Viswanathan, Ilaiyaraaja, KV Mahadevan, Hamsalekha and AR Rahman. In 1981, he sang in a Hindi film for the first time, for K Balachander’s Ek Duje Ke Liye. Scored by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Ek Duje Ke Liye resulted in further assignments for Balasubrahmanyam in Hindi films later, including, notably, films starring Salman Khan in the late 1980s and the 1990s.

Balasubrahmanyam was also an actor, dubbing artist and music composers. He appeared in roles in Manathil Uruthi Vendum (1987), Keladi Kanmani (1990), Sigaram (1990), Thiruda Thiruda (1993), Kadhalan (1994) and Kadhal Desam (1996).

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SP Balasubrahmanyam’s staggering achievement: 40,000 tracks, 50 years later, numerous languages