Once popular Kikuyu benga musician Albert Gacheru is dead.

Gacheru died on Monday night at the Kenyatta National Hospital at the age of 59 following a long illness.

The musician sang the Mwendwa wakwa Mariru and Mumunya hit songs in the early 1990s that propelled him into national and regional fame and was the envy of many musicians.

At the height of his illustrious musical career in the mid-90s, Gacheru boasted of a business empire worth millions of shillings, which included the famous Wamaitu Production Company.

Albert Gacheru. PHOTO/COURTESY

At the time, Gacheru produced some of the biggest gospel and secular musicians, led by Shari Martin, Mary Wambui, Paul Njoroge, Queen Jane, Daniel Kamau alias DK as well as the late Moreno Batamba and Lovy Longomba, the father of the Longombas twins.

But his empire started to crumble when his music store located on River Road was razed by a fierce fire that saw him lose more than Sh10 million worth of life investments in November 1999.

The inferno set off a chain of misfortunes that also saw him lose a family house he had invested in in the early 2000s driving him from riches to rags, even as he fought for years to try and regain his footing unsuccessfully.