South Florida guitarist Dan Warner wasn’t Latin. But when Latin music superstars like Julio Iglesias, Juanes, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin and Sebastian Yatra needed a musician with groove — one who was in the pocket in music-speak — there was one fixture on stage with them and in the studio.
Hollywood, Florida-born Daniel Lawrence Warner.
Warner, a Grammy and four-time Latin Grammy award winner who lived in Plantation, died suddenly Wednesday of an apparent heart attack at age 49, according to friends and reports, including USA Today and from Leila Cobo, Billboard magazine’s executive director for content and programming of Latin music.
He died right after doing what he loved to do: playing music.
According to a Facebook post from his friend, Coconut Creek musician Kilmo Doome, the two had just finished jamming in a set at Fat Cats in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday.
Warner loved playing at the venue after sessions in studios, like North Miami’s Criteria. That’s where he recorded guitar tracks for Julio Iglesias’ 1995 album, “La Carretera,” and, most recently, Marc Anthony’s May release, “Opus.”
“I was privileged to jam with one of the world’s great guitar players last night,” Doome wrote on Thursday afternoon. “We had just finished playing, and were standing at the bar talking about fat groove. His last words were, ‘groove is everything’ before he fell over on me.”
‘Groove is everything’
Warner could do funky pop and feverish grooves, too. He was also Barry Gibb’s guitarist. The two started working together when Gibb assembled musicians for “Guilty Pleasures,” the 2005 sequel album to Barbra Streisand’s 1980 landmark, “Guilty,” Gibb’s tour manager Carlos Guzman said.
Gibb co-wrote and produced both “Guilty” albums at Criteria and the Bee Gees’ former studio, Middle Ear, in Miami Beach.
When Gibb recorded his 2016 solo album, “In the Now,” at Criteria and performed concerts in support of the project, including their last gig together — Glastonbury in June 2017 — he relied on Warner, along with his son Stephen Gibb, to lay down updated licks on Bee Gees’ “Saturday Night Fever” era classics like “Stayin’ Alive,” “Jive Talkin’” and “Tragedy.”
Arguably, the hardest rocking song in Gibb’s vast catalog, “Blowin’ a Fuse,” from “In the Now,” gets its muscle from the twin guitar and surf riff grooves played by Warner and the younger Gibb.
“We are all devastated by the loss of Dan Warner,” Barry Gibb said on Facebook. “The gentle giant, the brilliant musician, and my friend. I’d like to join his wife, his family, and our gang in paying my respects. Dan wasn’t one of the best, he really was the best! We love you Dan!”
Latin Grammy winner
Warner, Cobo wrote in Billboard, was often the musical director of the Latin Grammys’ Person of the Year gala.
According to the Recording Academy, the body that hands out Grammys, Warner’s victories include a Best Latin Pop honor at the 53rd Grammy Awards for his contributions to Alejandro Sanz’s 2009 album, “Paraíso Express.”
His four Latin Grammys were for his work on Calle 13’s 2010 album “Entren Los Que Quieran,” and for Amaury Gutierrez’s “Sesiones Intimas,” Diego Torres’s “Distinto” and “Paraíso Express.”
You may have heard Warner’s acoustic guitar playing on Ricky Martin’s “Shake Your Bon Bon,” a single from Martin’s eponymous English-language debut album in 1999, too.
Warner also had credits across multiple genres on projects by Celine Dion, Madonna, Gloria Estefan, Shakia, Ziggy Marley, P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, Mika, Elsten Torres, and the late Miami songstress, Soraya.
And most recently: Maluma’s “F.A.M.E.,” Kany Garcia’s “Contra el Viento” and Sebastian Yatra’s “Fantasia.”
He “was also widely beloved, generous with his time, craft and support of fellow musicians, big and small,” Cobo wrote.
These fellow musicians, too, big and small by commercial standards, reacted in a drove of social media posts.
Social media tributes
Colombian musician Juanes, who similarly won Grammys, shared memories of Warner in a Spanish-language post on Twitter that translated to: “My soul breaks that good and talented people leave like this. Just yesterday I had chatted with him in a WhatsApp group ... A hug to all your family and close friends.”
Producer Emilio Estefan said that Warner left an “immense legacy to music.”
Warner, who studied at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, produced Latin artist Ricardo Arjona’s 2010 album, “Poquita Ropa,” and the two had planned to work together again Arjona alluded in a Spanish-language tweet that translates:
“Brother of so many battles, extraordinary musician and unique human being. You left before completing the project we dreamed. I will finish it for you. Dan Warner, your guitars will keep playing.”
And musicians Yoni Leviatan, who is based in Israel, and Miami Beach native Fernando Perdomo, 39, who plays on sessions in Los Angeles for everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Todd Rundgren, used social media to pay tribute.
“Barry Gibb’s guitar player. Miami’s guitar player,” Perdomo said.
South Florida singer and musician Beth Cohen, who tours with Barry Gibb’s band and with classic rock group Boston and its founding guitarist/songwriter Tom Scholz, was “devastated at the sudden loss of my friend for 31 years” she wrote in a Facebook post. “... [He] made the world a better place with his talent.”
And the posts kept coming.
‘Studios and stadiums all over the world’
“Whenever I had the privilege to have him join me on stage or record on one of my songs, I felt like nothing could ever go wrong and it never did because the great Dan Warner was there beside me,” said Miami musician and songwriter Elsten Torres on a Facebook post.
“The music that poured out of his soul and through his hands was the definitive sound of two decades of music coming out of not only Miami but studios and stadiums all over the world,” wrote North Miami Beach songwriter and publisher Jodi Marr, a high school friend, bandmate and co-writer. “The heavens sing with his sound now and those of us lucky to have ever made music with him will hear the echo of his songs as long as we live.”
Warner’s survivors include his wife Kimme and daughter Taylor.
A celebration of life is in the planning stages but a date hasn’t been set yet, said his friend and musical colleague, drummer Lee Levin.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the location of Warner’s last performance. He was at Fat Cats in Fort Lauderdale.