French-Spanish singer Nilda Fernandez, who won fame with hits in the late 80s and 90s and later became popular in Russia, died Sunday aged 61, his family told AFP.

He died of heart failure in the south of France.

Born in Barcelona, Fernandez grew up in the French city of Lyon and started playing in bars and clubs with just a guitar in the style of a French chansonnier.

By 1981, he recorded his first album but he waited over half a decade more for success with the 1987 song and album "Madrid Madrid" and then his biggest hit "Nos fiancailles" (Our Engagement) in 1991.

Known for his agile but vulnerable sounding voice, Fernandez in 2001 left for Russia where he stayed for half a decade, collaborating with Russian pop singer Boris Moiseev. He also worked in Cuba.