BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Djordje Balasevic, a Serbian singer who was widespread throughout the former Yugoslavia after the wars of the 1990s, has died after contracting the new coronavirus, state television reported on Friday. He was 67 years old.

Balasevic was admitted to hospital in the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad three days ago, where he suffered from pneumonia, which appeared to be a complication of COVID-19. State broadcaster RTS said he died in hospital on Friday.

Balasevic started his career in the late 1970s and early 1980s, initially performing in bands before building a solo following with his soft pop music and witty lyrics.

When Yugoslavia disintegrated in the ethnic war in the early 1990s, Balasevic openly opposed the nationalism that fueled the conflict. Because of his positions, the mainstream media in Serbia avoided Balasevic during wartime.

But it remained popular after the wars in the ethnically divided Balkan region and filled concert halls in all the countries that had emerged from the six former Yugoslav republics. His performances were famous for his comments on the stage on various subjects.

The media in Croatia and Bosnia immediately relayed the news of Balasevic’s death, which was also widely spread on social networks.

Bosnia’s Klix news portal described Balasevic as a “legendary” performer whose songs “could evoke deepest emotions in an audience”. Croatian HRT television recalled Balasevic’s “absolutely anti-war and pacifist position that is present in many songs, concert speeches and interviews”.