Cuban rumbero, Totico, who I first met in Carlos “Patato” Valdez’s apartment in the Bronx died on January 21, 2011 of cancer at the age of 76
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