Wildman of Rhythm: The Life and Music of Benny Moré

Wildman of Rhythm: The Life and Music of Benny Moré

by John Radanovich


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Wildman of Rhythm: The Life and Music of Benny Moré by John Radanovich

Benny Moré (1919-1963) was the greatest singer Cuba has ever produced. Among Cubans and Cuban exiles alike, his name evokes overwhelming nostalgia for the power of his expressive boleros, for his tributes to beloved guajiro (country) towns, and for the irresistible excitement of his up-tempo songs. He was a lightning rod at the center of one of the richest historical eras of the entire twentieth century, the golden age of Cuban music, itself a very special moment in eighty or more years of Cuban popular music history. Born Bartolomé Maximiliano Gutiérrez Moré Armenteros, he is known to millions of Cuban music fans as, simply, Benny.

Unable to read music, Moré nevertheless wrote more than a dozen Cuban standards. His songs epitomized the Cuban big-band era, and helped shape the Afro-Cuban sound-later called salsa. All these years later, to hear his recordings for the first time, it is impossible not to be thrilled and amazed. Moré's success owed something to the wild times he lived in, but the excesses of the time contributed to his early death just as they floated him to his triumphs. Cubans are very fond of their icons, and his passing at forty-four gave them another to adore.

Music journalist John Radanovich has spent years tracking down the musicians who knew and performed with Moré, as well as Moré family members. He has also sought out rare recordings and little-known photographs. Radanovich provides the definitive biography of the man and his music, whose legacy was forgotten in the larger scheme of political difficulties between the U.S. and Cuba. The author also examines the milieu of Cuban music in the 1950s,when Havana was the playground of Hollywood stars and the Mafia ran the nightclubs and casinos.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813061863
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Publication date: 09/08/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.44(d)

About the Author

 John Radanovich has written for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, DownBeat, Jazziz, and Offbeat. He lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xvii

Prologue 1

1 La Guinea, 1919-1935 6

2 Rumba, Son, and the Orchestras 14

3 Sugar, Guitars, Vertientes, 1935-1940 18

4 Havana Apprenticeship, 1940-1943 24

5 Conjunto Matamoros, 1944-1945 30

6 In the Land of the Aztecs, 1945-1948 35

7 Locas por el Mambo, 1948-1950 51

8 Return to Cuba Voice First, 1950-1952 58

9 Duarte, 1952-1953 67

10 La Banda Gigante, 1953-1954 73

11 Son Montuno and Murder Inc 91

12 The Hogs and the Hits, 1955-1956 101

13 Recordings, Tours, 1957-1959 123

14 Revolution and Death, 1959-1963 140

15 Influence 158

Notes 161

Sources 173

Discography 177

Index 189

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