In commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, Google is today remembering the life and legacy of Tito Puente with its Doodle, an American "Nuyorican" musician and world famous entertainer.
Puente was a bandleader, percussionist, composer, lyricist, and recording artist with a five-decade career; he was often known as"The King of Latin Music."
The Tito Puente Monument was unveiled in East Harlem, New York City, on this day in 2021.
Here is everything you need to know about him.
Who was Tito Puente?
Puente was born on 20 April 1923, in New York City’s Spanish Harlem, and growing up, he was surrounded by Puerto Rican, Cuban, and big band music.
He had tremendous musical skill from an early age, and in his early teens, he began his career as a drummer and got his big break performing with Federico Pagani’s Happy Boys and Machito’s Orchestra.
During WWII, he served in the Navy as a ship’s bandleader, playing alto saxophone and over 10 other instruments. After the war, he pursued his studies at the Juilliard School of Music.
In 1948, he formed his own band, the Tito Puente Orchestra, and rapidly became known for his energetic concerts that inspired audiences to get up and dance.
Puente was noted for his incredible timbale (or kettledrum) talents, as well as the way he blended big band instrumentation and jazz harmonies with Afro-Cuban music.
He recorded and is credited on over 118 albums, more than any other timbales bandleader to date. Puente explored other Latin music styles besides the mambo movement, including the Boogaloo, Pachanga, and, eventually, Salsa.
For his ingenuity and innovation, he was regarded as a musical pioneer, and he is often recognised with popularising Latin music in the United States. He was given the key to New York City in 1969.
Puente was profoundly committed to developing opportunities for the Latin community, in addition to the musical accolades he won throughout his career. He established a scholarship fund in 1979, which has sponsored promising young Latin percussionists for over 20 years.
How did he die?
To this day, Puente’s success, presence, and musicality are well known and respected, and many people waited in line for days after his death in 2000 to say their final goodbyes.
Puente Suffered a major heart attack following a concert in Puerto Rico in May 2000, and was airlifted to New York City for surgery to repair a heart valve, but complications arose, and he died just a few hours later.
He was honoured posthumously at the first-ever Latin Grammy Awards, and the Harlem street where he grew up, - E. 110th Street - was renamed Tito Puente Way in his honour.