Pérez Prado

Pérez Prado

born on 11/12/1916 in Ciudad de Matanzas, Matanzas, Cuba

died on 14/9/1989 in Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico

Perez Prado

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Dámaso Pérez Prado
Birth name Pérez Prado, Dámaso
Also known as The King of Mambo
Born December 11 1916
Matanzas, Cuba
Died September 14 1989 (aged 72)
Mexico City, Mexico
Genre(s) Mambo
Occupation(s) Musician, arranger, bandleader, composer

Perez Prado (b. December 11, 1916, Cuba - d. September 14, 1989, Mexico City, Mexico) was a Cuban bandleader and composer. He is commonly referred to as the "King of the Mambo".[1]

In Mambo his orchestra was the most popular, his son, Perez Prado, Jr., continues to direct the Pérez Prado Orchestra in Mexico City to this day.


Early life

Born as Dámaso Pérez Prado in Cuba, his mother was a school teacher, his father a newspaper man. He studied classical piano in his early childhood, and later played organ and piano in local clubs. For a time, he was pianist and arranger for the Sonora Matancera, Cuba's best known musical group. He also worked with casino orchestras in Havana for most of the 1940s, and gained a reputation for being an imaginative (his solo playing style predated bebop by at least five years), loud player. He was nicknamed "El Cara de Foca" ("Seal Face") by his peers at the time.[1]

In 1948, he moved to Mexico to form his own band and record for RCA Victor. He quickly specialized in mambos, an upbeat adaptation of the Cuban danzón. Pérez Prado's mambos stood out among the competition, with their fiery brass riffs and strong sax counterpoints, and most of all, Pérez's trademark grunts (he actually says "¡Dilo!", or "Say it!", in many of the perceived grunts). In 1950, arranger Sonny Burke heard "Que rico mambo" while on vacation in Mexico and recorded it back in the United States as "Mambo Jambo". The single was a hit and Pérez Prado decided to profit himself from the success and tour the U.S. His appearances in 1951 were sell-outs and he began recording U.S. releases for RCA Victor.[1]

Famous pieces and hits

Pérez Prado is the composer of such famous pieces as "Mambo No. 5" (later a UK chart-topper for both Lou Bega in 1999 and animated character Bob the Builder in 2001) and "Mambo No. 8". At the height of the mambo movement, in 1955, Pérez hit the American charts at number one with a cha-cha version of "Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White" (composed by French composer Louiguy). It held the spot for 10 consecutive weeks. Pérez had first covered this title for the movie Underwater! in 1954, where Jane Russell can be seen dancing to "Cherry Pink". In 1958, one of Pérez's own compositions, "Patricia", became the last record to ascend to #1 on the Jockeys and Top 100 charts, both of which gave way the following week to the then newly introduced Billboard Hot 100 chart.

International popularity

His popularity in the United States matched the peak of the first wave of interest in Latin music outside the Latino communities during the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. He also performed in films in the United States and Europe, as well as in Mexican cinema, always with his trademark goatee and turtle-neck sweaters and vests. With the end of the 1950s, his success waned, and the years gave way to new rhythms, like rock 'n roll and then pop music. His association with RCA ended in the 1960s, and his recorded output was mainly limited to smaller labels and recycled Latin-style anthologies.

Later life

In the early 70s, Pérez Prado permanently returned to his apartment off Mexico City's grand Paseo de la Reforma to live with his wife and two children, son Dámaso Pérez Salinas (known as Perez Prado, Jr.) and daughter María Engracia. His career in Latin America was still strong. He toured and continued to record material which was released in Mexico, South America, and Japan. He was revered as one of the reigning giants of the music industry and was a regular performer on Mexican television. In Japan, a live concert recording of his 1973 tour was released on LP in an early 4-channel format known as Quadraphonic.

In 1981, he was featured in a musical revue entitled Sun which enjoyed a long run in the Mexican capital. His last American appearance was at Hollywood on September 12, 1987, when he played to a packed house. This was also the year of his last recording.

Persistent ill health plagued him for the next two years, and he died of a stroke in Mexico City on September 14, 1989, aged 72.

Alumni of Pérez Prado's orchestra

During his lifetime, a cast of musical luminaries passed through his orchestra. These included

In Pop Culture

"Patricia" was later featured in

  • the striptease scene in Federico Fellini's 1960 movie La dolce vita
  • background music for a pool party in the 1969 film Goodbye, Columbus
  • the episode "Some Enchanted Evening" of the animated sitcom The Simpsons, first aired on May 13, 1990 [1]
  • a long-running series of famous TV commercials for the Royal Mail in the UK (using the slogan "I Saw This And Thought Of You") between 1996 and 2003
  • the closing credits of HBO's Real Sex series

His mambo records and the joyous dancing they brought about are described in a late chapter of Jack Kerouac's seminal novel, "On The Road" 1957.

His songs "Caballo Negro", "Lupita", and "Mambo n.8" are featured in the film Santa Sangre (1989) by Alejandro Jodorowsky.

His recording of "Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White" features in the films Cookie (1989), and Parents (1989).

In the decade after his death, the popularity of Pérez Prado's music was on the rise again. CD reissues of Pérez's RCA recordings continue to sell steadily. The exciting "Guaglione" almost made it to the top of the charts in the UK in the summer of 1995 following its use in the Guinness television commercial Anticipation. "Mambo No. 5" was featured in another Guinness commercial in 1999 (the same year Lou Bega took his cover version of that same song to the top of the UK charts).

The soundtrack to the 1999 movie Office Space features two of his performances, "Mambo No. 8" and "The Peanut Vendor." [2]

The soundtrack to the 2004 movie Diarios de Motocicleta features Pérez Prado's "Qué rico el mambo", more commonly known as "Mambo Jambo".

List of popular songs

  • Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White
  • A Go Go Mambo
  • Concierto para Bongo
  • Fantasia
  • Ballin' The Jack
  • Guaglione
  • Que Rico Mambo
  • Mambo #5
  • Mambo #8
  • Mambo del Politécnico
  • The Peanut Vendor
  • Mambo Universitario
  • The High And Mighty
  • Tomando Cafe
  • La Niña Popoff
  • Patricia
  • Mambo en Sax
  • Mambo a la Kenton
  • Mambo del Ruletero
  • Mambo en trompeta
  • Marylin Monroe Mambo
  • Lupita
  • Claudia
  • La Chula Linda
  • Tico, Tico, Tico


Prado recorded on RCA Victor from 1950 to 1965.

  • "Voodoo Suite" (1955)
  • "Havana 3 A.M." (1956)
  • "Exotic Suite of the Americas" (1962)
  • "The Greatest Hits" (1991)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Allmusic biography

External links

  • Complete Pérez Prado Discography
  • Perez Prado at the Internet Movie Database
  • Perez Prado at MusicBrainz
  • {{{label}}} at the All Music Guide
  • "Mambo", a documentary about Perez Prado
This page was last modified 11.04.2010 18:47:42

This article uses material from the article Perez Prado from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.