On Tuesday, October 11, and in honor of U.S. Hispanic Heritage Month, Google will celebrate the life and legacy of American “Nuyorican” musician and internationally-renowned entertainer, Tito Puente, with an animated video Doodle illustrated by New York-based Puerto Rican artist – Carlos Aponte.
For VidaSalsera.com’s readers, Tito Puente needs little introduction. As a multi-talented artist of Puerto Rican descent, we know Puente was a percussionist, composer, songwriter, recording artist, and bandleader. He often refer to him as “El Rey del Timbal” and “The King of Latin music.”
A few significant notes about his biography:
- Puente was born on April 20, 1923 at Harlem Hospital Center in New York City’s Spanish Harlem. He started his career as a drummer in his early teens and found his big break playing for Federico Pagani’s Happy Boys and Machito’s Orchestra.
- He served in the Navy during World War II, playing alto saxophone as the ship’s bandleader—along with over ten other instruments.
- He continued his studies at the Juilliard School of Music after the war.
- He started his own band, the Tito Puente Orchestra, in 1948 and quickly earned a reputation for his performances that encouraged audiences to get on the dance floor. Puente was known for his awe-inspiring skills on the timbales (or timpani/kettledrums), as well as for the way he combined big band instrumentation and jazz harmonies with Afro-Cuban music.
- He recorded an astounding 118+ albums and is credited on dozens more—more than any other timbales bandleader to date. This journey began with Ran Kan Kan, his first professional track recording and the soundtrack of Tuesday’s Doodle.
- Beyond the mambo movement, Puente experimented across other genres of Latin music such as the Boogaloo, Pachanga, and eventually Salsa.
- He was considered a musical pioneer for his creativity and experimentation, and is widely credited for popularizing Latin music in the United States.
- In 1979, he introduced a scholarship fund that supported promising, young Latin percussionists for over 20 years.
- The Harlem street where he grew up — E. 110th Street — was renamed Tito Puente Way to honor his life and legacy.
The Doodle will show on the main Google browser starting tonight Monday, after 9 PST.