The singer who shot to fame and fortune with the hit How Bizarre
has died at the age of 40.
Pauly Fuemana from the Otara Millionaires Club, or OMC, was behind New Zealand's best selling record, reaching number one in Australia, Canada and parts of Europe.
He died at North Shore Hospital just after 7.00am on Sunday, after a short illness.
A long-time friend Herman Loto Sakarria says Fuemana's family and friends were at his bedside.
"It (his death) will be a huge shock to the music industry," he says.
The hit song How Bizarre was released by the group in 1995 and was named Single of the Year at the 1996 New Zealand Music Awards.
It stormed to the top of the charts around the world, spending three weeks at number one in New Zealand, three weeks in Ireland, and five weeks in Australia.
The deceptively upbeat song - whose title was inspired by a ubiquitous catchphrase - revolved around peculiar encounters with policemen and circus performers.
But behind the catchy melody lurked a darker story, hinting at Fuemana's upbringing in south Auckland.
"I put a lot of hidden stories in there so people could read between the lines and sense it for what it is instead of telling them, 'Yeah, we got pulled over by the cops, and my mate got his head smashed in, and we got arrested, and they found some pot on him,'" Fuemana told Reuters in a 1997 interview.
"He opened the music to right across the world, so the world had a taste of what our style of music is," says his brother Tony Fuimana.
But sometimes catapulting to dizzying heights, can mean a rocky ride down.
"He went from nothing to having all this fame dumped on him and he was meant to cope with it all himself," says Tony.
But Pauly faced his challenges head on. Despite the death of his oldest brother Phil and bankruptcy, the man hailed as the Ghetto Superstar kept his head up.
"Even when he was in hospital he fought right to the end and that's within his career as well," says Tony.
However his fight ended on Sunday morning, where he surrounded by family, his wife and five children.
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