Classic Shots Gallery 15
Classic Shots: Ralph MacDonald
A History of LP® Percussionist Gatherings
Classic Shots:
Nicky Marerro
Classic Shots Gallery 14
Classic Shots Gallery 11
Classic Shots Gallery 12
Classic Shots Gallery 13
A Tribute to Mr. Jiggs
A Tribute to Carlos 'Patato' Valdez
The Palladium - Where Mambo Was King
Roots of Latin Music
Tito Puente Tribute Gallery
Tito Puente - Long Live the King
Classic Shots Gallery 1
Classic Shots Gallery 2
Classic Shots Gallery 3
Classic Shots Gallery 4
Classic Shots Gallery 5
Classic Shots Gallery 6
Classic Shots Gallery 7
Classic Shots Gallery 8
Classic Shots Gallery 9
Mid to Late 70's
Classic Shots Gallery 10

In 1956 I was working as a mechanical engineer and photographer. Living in the Bronx, I happened upon New York's famous Birdland jazz club. I was so taken by the music that I became a regular at the Monday night jam sessions, which were headed by flutist Herbie Mann. It was there that I was able to see percussionists like Candido Camero and Jose Mangual. It was Jose in particular that inspired me. I saw greatness in Mangual, and that's what I wanted to be, somebody who had that mastery of something.

I became a student of the 1960's Latin scene, and wanted my own set of bongos. But, because of the government-imposed embargo against Cuba, finding good instruments in the US was very difficult. This did not stop me. I put my engineering skills to use and made my own set. I used a photo of Johnny Pacheco's bongos and created my first prototype. This was the beginning of my education in creating percussion instruments. I knew nothing about machining or about wood or metal working. The first wood shell I cut was on a Friday, and by Monday it was a quarter of an inch smaller. I didn't realize it was wet wood which was cut and that it had to dry first. Once I knew what it was I needed to do, I was delivering bongos and cowbells to musicians in brown paper bags, soliciting feedback and using the Latin nightclubs as my research and development labs.

I began expanding my business by receiving a contract to make cowbells for Rogers Drums and continued to sell bongos on consignment. I made a set of claves for Charlie Palmieri and also designed wood blocks and sound effects for Carroll Sound.

I then met Specs Powell, the drummer for the Ed Sullivan Show and a staff musician for CBS. He asked me to make him a pair of bongos and a bongo stand so he could play standing up. I fashioned a mounting system without having to drill into the shell, thereby keeping the tone pure. This pleased Specs and he introduced me to Bob Rosengarden, who was the drummer for The Tonight Show. Rosengarden asked me to create an instrument that would replicate the sound of the traditional horse jawbone with rattling teeth. My modern-day verson of the jawbone, called the Vibra-Slap®, became LP®'s first patent.

On August 12, 1964, I officially started Latin Percussion. Having just left an engineering job and with a baby on the way, I set out to prove that my strange percussion devices could support my family and change the world. My passion was now my own company. My first workshop was in my basement, with the gas-welding taking place in a detached and unheated garage. Not only did I do the welding, but I was the photographer, copywriter, market researcher, salesman and janitor.

For over 40 years I have been taking photos of musicians. As a matter of fact, the real reason I formed LP® was to have an excuse to take pictures. Over these many years I have amassed a collection of photos of those musicians who have shaped modern music. from Latin, Afro-Cuban, pop, jazz, classic and rock.

I am eager to share these images with those around the world who share in these interests. I will, where possible, give some background as to how I came to take the photos and how the individuals impacted music.

I hope you enjoy this section of