Above: Jose "Cheo" Feliciano, Legendary Salsa singer and composer died this morning in a fatal car accident in Cupey, Puerto Rico.
I woke up to sad news this morning with a list of tweets informing me that legendary salsa composer and singer Jose "Cheo" Feliciano has passed away in a fatal car accident. According to the Puerto Rican police reports, Feliciano was driving alone in his Jaguar when he lost control on Highway 176 in Cupey, Puerto Rico just after 4am. The 78 year-old man who was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico is known for his Fania hits "Anacaona," "Mi Triste Problema," "Busca Lo Tuyo," "y El Raton," and the list goes on.
Jose was influenced at a young age by the bolero music of Trio Los Panchos and at 8 years old, he formed his first group "El Combo Las Latas," (The Cans Ensemble), influenced by their musical instruments being made out of cans. Feliciano attended the Free School of Music in Ponce after finishing his primary education where he studied and became a percussionist.
In the early 50s, Cheo moved from Ponce, Puerto Rico to New York City's Spanish Harlem. It was there in El Barrio where he was offered to play in the Tito Rodriguez Orchestra. Shortly after he networked in the Latin music scene with Tito Rodriguez, he became a lead vocal in Joe Cuba's Sextet. His baritone voice, charm and improvisation skills made him a favorite in Latin music and opened up the doors for him to sing with the Eddie Palmieri Orchestra in the late 60s for years.
Above: Cheo Feliciano and Eddie Palmieri.
During the 70s, Jose broke sales in the Latin billboard charts recording, composing and touring many hits for the Fania All Stars and in the early 80s, Feliciano formed "Coche Records," becoming the first tropical singer to perform at the Amira de la Rosa Theater in Colombia. Feliciano also persued an acting career in 1987 and landed the role of Roberto Clemente's father in the musical "Clemente." Cheo was currently working on a project with Panamanian composer, singer and actor Ruben Blades, but the album's release date still has yet to be determined.
Above: Ruben Blades in the studio recording Cheo's latest work and a picture of the two singing with Fania All Stars in the early 80s.
We will miss you Cheo and I am grateful to have been raised on your music, voice and style. Descanza en Paz Caballero. Una voz de Borinquen que canta ahora en el cielo...aqui en este mundo seguimos tocando, bailando y cantando tu musica.
Here's a few videos of my favs from Cheo Feliciano.
Cheo Feliciano and Santana "El Raton."