Legendary folk + blues singer/songwriter Paul Pena has died in San Francisco, California. He was 55.

Pena was battling complications, related to diabetes and pancreatitis, when he died at the weekend (01OCT05).

The Cape Verde-born guitarist studied flamenco styles in Spain and Portugal as a child but became a folk hero in the US in the 1960s and honed his blues talents with T-BONE WALKER and JOHN LEE HOOKER, among others.

His debut 1972 album was a critical success and the acclaim inspired Pena to head for San Francisco, where he became a regular opener for rock legends the Grateful Dead.

One of his tracks, JET AIRLINER, became a big hit for the STEVE MILLER BAND.

After disappearing from the limelight in the late 1970s, Pena returned after perfecting Tuvan throat singing, which he taught himself from rare recordings by world music star Kongar-ol Ondar, who later befriended the folk star.

Pena's mastery of throat singing and his efforts to win a Tuva contest in the guttural art became the subject of award-winning documentary GENGHIS BLUES.

Pena won the contest and impressed the Tuvans so much they dubbed him 'Earthquake' after his low and resonant throat-singing style.