Born roughly November 4, 1925, Carlos “Patato” Valdez was one of the most influential figures in the development of my career and that of the LP, percussion company I founded in 1964. It was love at first sight for me. He was talented, funny and a bit crazy. He helped me hone my hanging out chops in the after hour clubs in the Bronx and in the parties in his apartment. He was a part of my life for nearly 40 years. With his help I introduced a conga design that has his name and a bata drum set in fiberglass that was a bit oversized. In 1979 he was part of a band I founded that included Tito Puente and Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez called the Latin Percussion Jazz Ensemble that made 3 European trips and one to Japan. If the trips themselves were costly to me, they helped me develop a global business that became a powerful brand in percussion.
Patato died in a hospital outside of Cleveland, Ohio on November 11, 2007
One of the highlights of summer 2010 in NYC was a concert by group, Tiempo Libre along the Hudson River in lower Manhattan.