Diomedes Diaz, star of Colombian vallenato, dies

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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Diomedes Diaz, the best-known performer of Colombia's accordion-heavy vallenato music, has died at age 56.

Fredys Soccaras, mayor of Valledupar, the city where the singer-songwriter lived, told Caracol radio that Diaz died Sunday of a heart attack after being rushed to a hospital.

From a poor childhood on a farm near Colombia's Caribbean coast, Diaz rose to become one of the top-selling artists of the musical genre revered throughout Colombia. He was honored with a Latin Grammy for best vallenato album in 2010.

Diaz was also known for his off-stage excesses, including a lifelong battle with drugs and alcohol and a conviction for trying to cover up the overdose death of a fan at his home.

His death came three days after he released a new CD.

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