Rita Lee is a central figure in Brazilian rock. A former member of the seminal rock band Os Mutantes, she eventually departed from that group and began an extremely successful solo career in the rock and dance styles that have lasted for more than 30 years.
The daughter of an amateur female pianist, she never took music lessons. In place of the traditional adolescent debut ball, she asked to receive a drum set. Lee formed a band with two other friends and they were quite good at vocals, backing stars like Tony Campelo, Jet Blacks, Demetrius, and Prini Lopez, when they met the brothers Arnaldo and Sérgio Dias Baptista. Adopting the name O'Seis (a pun with "the six" and the Brazilian redneck way of saying "you all"), they recorded the single "O Suicida," which was never released. When the rest of the band left for college, only three of them remained. Picking the name Os Mutantes, they backed Nana Caymmi on her then-husband's composition "Bom Dia" (Gilberto Gil). When Gil met them, he immediately knew that Os Mutantes were on the same track as the Baianos. Inviting them to accompany him at TV Record's 1967 III FMPB, they won second place for Gil's "Domingo no Parque" with the addition of Rogério Duprat conducting an orchestra with his revolutionary arrangements. The novelty of electric guitars and a generalized irreverence of the mixing of strange orchestral sounds irritated the audience a great deal; the nascent Tropicalia was coming to the world under heavy booing. Soon after, they recorded their single "O Relógio." In 1968, they performed on the album/manifesto Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis (Philips), with Nara Leão, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Tom Zé. This was also when they recorded their first LP, Os Mutantes. In that period, during their somewhat frequent tours of Europe, they recorded an LP that was never fully released, with the exception of some tracks included on 1971's Jardim Elétrico. Also in 1968, they accompanied Caetano to TV Globo's III FIC, on his "É Proibido Proibir" and performed their "Caminhante Noturno," which won seventh place. In 1969, they participated at the IV FMPB with their "Dom Quixote" and, by Lee and Tom Zé, "2001." In the same year, they performed with the Baianos at the Sucata nightclub, Rio, and recorded their second album, also self-titled. They went to Europe, playing at Cannes, France, at the MIDEM, and in Lisbon, Portugal.