Pep Sala: "Carles Sabater did not die of an overdose, it was a heart attack"

On February 13, 1999, after a concert in Vilafranca del Penedès, one of the most tragic and remembered events took place for a generation of music fans in Catalonia.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
12 February 2024 Monday 16:03
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Pep Sala: "Carles Sabater did not die of an overdose, it was a heart attack"

On February 13, 1999, after a concert in Vilafranca del Penedès, one of the most tragic and remembered events took place for a generation of music fans in Catalonia. Carles Sabater, one of the composers, founders and lyricists of the Catalan rock group Sau —known for hits such as Boig per tu or El tren de mitjanit—, died suddenly at the age of 37 after a 13-year musical career. 25 years later, the man who was his partner in the group and also co-founder and lyricist, has given an interview on RAC1 in which he states that Sabater did not die of an overdose, as had been deduced at a social level, but of a heart attack.

Sala, in the conversation with Anna Vallhonesta on the program I don't know, wanted to make it clear that there was nothing about drugs behind it: "He was an active man and he simply suffered cardiorespiratory arrest, which is quite common. He didn't die of an overdose, it was a heart attack".

The conversation comes after the announcement of a Sau film and the publication of the book Cor trencat. Death and life of Carles Sabater, by music journalist Pep Blay. The work talks about Sabater's career and the disappearance of the band after the tragic loss.

A quarter of a century later, and at this time, Pep Sala cannot help but relive that day. "The worst thing in my life, without any doubt. We always have Carles in mind," he explained.

A day that had to be special for the start of the XII tour, a number that coincided with Sau's years of experience and that had to lead them to forty performances. "There had been a lot of changes, we had a new drummer... It wasn't one of those days where you went to the concert relaxed," he recalled. However, everyone was fine and excited.

The concert went very well, and Carles was "splendid." However, everything changed when they were in the dressing room, after hugging each other tighter than usual. "I noticed that Carles was pushing me in a kind of way, like a joke. But it wasn't that he was pushing me, it was that he had fallen," Pep Sala recalled.

From the first moment he had a "negative intuition" that this was not a simple faint. They immediately called an ambulance and he was the one who accompanied him to the hospital, although there was nothing more to do. Sabater died before arriving. From here on, the memory of everything is very blurry.

The Casal Theater in Vilafranca del Penedès was the scene of Sau's last concert and the death of Carles Sabater. In fact, today there are still people who leave flowers in this space every year. "We have a sadness that we have not gotten rid of," he admitted.

Pep Sala, however, does not see himself able to return, and has revealed that they have even refused to do another concert in that theater. "I don't see it in my heart, I don't know how I would react, and even less to do something public. One's reactions are unpredictable," she admitted.

Sala has had to limit some of the controversies of recent years surrounding Sabater's death, which he has attributed to "people speaking without knowing, without having adequate information." "We had created a lot of envy in Sau, in this country we sometimes have this vice," he considered.