Tito Puente 100 Years Old Today
Tito Puente was born in the heart of Harlem on April 20th, 1923, to Puerto Rican parents who moved to New York City seeking a better life. As a child, Tito was drawn to the pulsing rhythms of the city streets and discovered that he had a natural talent for music. The sounds of Afro-Caribbean, Cuban, and Puerto Rican rhythms would shape his musical style creating a sound that was uniquely his own.
Tito’s parents nurtured his love of music, and they bought him his first pair of bongos when he was six years old. From that moment, Tito was hooked and spent every spare moment practicing and experimenting with different rhythms and beats. At the age of 13, Tito began playing drums professionally in local bands, and by the 1940s, he had become one of the most sought-after percussionists in New York City. He played with some of the biggest names in Latin music, including Machito, Tito Rodriguez, and Xavier Cugat.
It wasn’t long before Tito formed his own band, the Tito Puente Orchestra, and he quickly became a sensation on the Latin music scene. His unique blend of Latin rhythms, jazz, and pop influences won him a legion of fans, and his hit songs like “Oye Como Va” and “Ran Kan Kan” became instant classics.
Tito’s success wasn’t just due to his talent and hard work. As a young man, he had also become involved in the burgeoning civil rights movement, and he was committed to using his music as a tool for social change.
Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Tito used his music to bring people together and promote racial harmony. He played benefit concerts for civil rights organizations and used his influence to help break down the barriers that separated people of different races and backgrounds.
Tito’s commitment to social justice never wavered, even as his fame and success continued to grow. He recorded over 100 albums, won numerous awards, and performed for audiences around the world, but he never lost sight of the values and beliefs that had inspired him from the beginning.
Tito Puente passed away in 2000, but his legacy lives on, not just in his music, but in the countless lives he touched and the positive change he helped to bring about. He will always be remembered as a musician, activist, and humanitarian who used his talents to make the world a better place.