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Tito Puente Biography

Home > Music > P > Puente, Tito > Biography

Birth Name: Ernesto Antonio Puente, Jr.
Born: 1923/04/20
Birth Place: New York
Died: 2000/06/01
Genres: Latin Jazz And Mambo

Tito Puente (born Ernesto Antonio Puente April 20, 1923 Harlem, New York) was a jazz and salsa musician, and composer from Harlem, New York, who rose to fame for his dance-oriented mambo and Latin jazz compositions. Puente's love for music began at an early age when he banged out rhymes on pots and pans to make up his own beats. By the age of seven, Puente's mother had enrolled him in piano lessons. Three years later he had switched to percussion, and became heavily influence by jazz drummer Gene Krupa.

Puente hit the height of his popularity during the 1950s, while at the forefront of the Afro-Cuban and Caribbean musical movement. Puente helped bring the style of mambo, son, and cha-cha-cha to mainstream audiences.

“Dance Mania,” possibly Puente's most well-known album, was released in 1958. Later, he moved into more diverse sounds, including pop music, bossa nova and others, eventually settling down with a fusion of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz genres that became known as “salsa.”

In 1979, Puente won the first of five Grammy Awards for the albums “A Tribute to Benny Moré,” “On Broadway,” “Mambo Diablo” and “Goza Mi Timbal.” In 1990, Puente was awarded a Grammy at the first Latin Grammy Awards, winning Best Traditional Tropical Album for “Mambo Birdland. “

After a show in Puerto Rico on May 31, he suffered a massive heart attack and was flown to New York City for surgery to repair a heart valve, but complications developed and he died during the night of May 31 – June 1, 2000. He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.