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Tata Guines, Dead At 77
Published February 5, 2008

Acclaimed Cuban percussionist Tata Guines, known widely as "The King of the Congas," died yesterday at the age of 77.

Cuban percussion connoisseur Tata Guines passed away on Monday, February 4, 2008. His specialty was the tumbadoras (the name given in Cuba to congas). He was hailed widely as "The King of the Congas." Guines has been renowned for his work since the 1950s. Guines was 77. He died of kidney infection and high blood pressure while in Havana, according to a report from BBC news.


Tata Guines' musical career began at an early age, in the 1940s. Although he is known primarly as one who played the congas, he was also skilled at bass. Initially, he was the bassist for Dionisio Martínez's (his uncle) band. He later formed the Estrellas Nacientes orchestra, which included several of his relatives. Years later, he shared the stage with some of the world's most renowned performers during a career spanning more than six decades. In the US in the 1950s, he performed with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Josephine Baker and Dizzy Gillespie. After spending years away from the public eye, he enjoyed renewed success in 2004 when he performed on the Grammy nominated hit album, Lagrimas Negras - Black Tears.


Despite his success in the US, Guines was never truly able to accept the racial segregation which was prevalent in the country, and so chose to return to Cuba after Fidel Castro's communist revolution in 1959.