Bebo Valdes dies
Grammy-award winning Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes died Friday, March 22 in Sweden from complications from Alzheimer’s. He was 94.
Valdes was suffering from the disease for years and lived his last years in Benalmadena, Spain.
Renowned Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes, whose son Chuco Valdes is a well-known musician in his own right.
The leading society for songwriters, composers and music publishers in Spain has made the announcement today in Madrid..
Valdes lived in Sweden for many years.
Bebo Valdes’ early life and career
Bebo valdes was born Ramón Emilio Valdés Amaro on Oct. 9, 1918 in Quivican, a town about an hour from Havana. His passion for music and the piano started to develop in 1925 when he was 7-years-old.
He studied European and Cuban classical music at the Municipal Conservatory in Havana and according to NPR, after his lessons he took to the streets and played his music, an African-influenced rumba.
In the early years of his career he started his first band, Orchestra Valdes-Hernandez, and played piano in Havana clubs in Cuba’s golden age. He was the leader in two Cuban big bands and was a “house” arranger for the popular Tropicana Club.
He solidified his skills as an arranger and composer and in the 1940s when he joined Julio Cueva’s orchestra and wrote one of his first mambo songs, breaking a trend in popular music on the small island.
He left Cuba for Mexico in 1960, during the revolution, with singer Rolando La Serie. He had five children with his first wife Pilar Valdes. Bebo Valdes reignited his career later in life with his son Chucho Valdes, also an acclaimed pianist, from his first marriage.He remarried in 1963, staring a new life in Stockholm.
He played throughout Europe and the United States, sharing the sounds of Latin jazz. He released “Bebo Rides Again” in 1994.
In a 2006 interview with NPR, Bebo Valdes said:
“If you are a musician, and you do one thing, you should enjoy what you do… This is my profession and it is my hobby. And I live in love with what I do. In those years in Stockholm, even if I wasn’t successful, I did it because I liked it. And I would keep doing it until I die.”