Puente - Long Live The King
20, 1923 - May 31, 2000
had the honor of not only having Tito Puente record
on several of the albums I produced in the 1970s
into 1980, but was also fortunate to travel around
the world with him on 4 tours with the "Latin
Percussion Jazz Ensemble."
1979 and 1980, these tours helped move Tito into
the world of Latin Jazz and introduced the world
to this master's music.
the most difficult moments of these tours, Tito
was always there with a funny line to break the
tension and make the shows a success. He
slept very little and was, inspite of his advancing
age, always buoyed up by the work he did and the
adulation of his adoring fans.
Puente was the most loved musician I have ever
known and was always loyal to the musicians who
served him. Some, like Johnny "Dandy"
Rodriguez, have been with him for over 38 years.
passing of this legend, I am most sorry to say,
brings to an end the era of big band Latin music.
will always love Tito, and his music and memories
will never fade.
Cohen (aka congahead)
una versión española, por
favor chasquido aquí.
have an autograph book from 1979, when I was ten
years old. Among the first autographs I received
was Tito's. My childhood memories are filled
with Tito. Besides growing up with his music
in our house throughout the night. I most
remember him, his family and many musical friends
filling our house with laughter. Not ordinary
laughter but the kind that makes you cry and gives
you a stomach ache.
a child, I was always extremely eager for the
times he visited us since I knew it would be a
fun and memorable occasion for everyone.
From his impromptu performances, to his 59th birthday
party where HE threw himself into his own birthday
cake they were always highlights for me.
I was extremely fortunate to know Tito in this
personal way. Even years later, he still
would greet me as if I was still that little ten
year old. Asking about my own family and
filling me in with the news on his family.
He will be a great loss to all but fortunately
his memory will live on. He was bigger then
life and loved by all.
Andrea Cohen Nasstrom
Puente's passing on June 1, 2000, brought the
Latin big band era to an end. And, though
most people knew Tito Puente from his stage persona
-- as a consummate showman, Timbale Legend, and
cultural icon -- not everyone had the opportunity
to see the more "down-to-earth" side
of him: a warm, friendly man with a sharp sense
of humor and a big smile. Fortunately,
many of the employees at LP got to know him on
a personal basis as a result of his decades-long
association and unwavering loyalty to the company.
lack of pretention became evident whenever he
visited LP. He would always drive himself
alone, and didn't need any chauffeurs or limousines,
much less an entourage. "What you see
is what you get" was true when it came to
dealing with Tito. Further, he wouldn't
leave until every autograph was signed for the
group of LP employees who would line up every
time to meet this gentleman of a man. He
even went so far as to do a private concert with
his band for LP employees only, since he wanted
to make sure that everyone who worked at LP had
the opportunity to see him perform with LP instruments
at least once in their lives.
Puente was also a very good sport when it came
to "livening up" the many photo shoots
with LP's Founder and Chairman, Martin Cohen,
behind the camera. He was never "above"
getting a laugh, even if it meant dressing up
in rented character costumes. Two such instances
occurred when he dressed up as "The King"
(complete with a jeweled crown, cape, and scepter),
as well as "Tito the Artiste" (to simulate
his decorating a new set of custom-painted timbales
which LP had made especially for him).
Cohen best summed it up nearly two years ago when
asked if Tito was partly responsible for LP's
acceptance and success in the industry.
"Not only did Tito play a big part in it,
Tito Puente IS Latin Percussion."
Puente will be sorely missed, but his music, generosity,
and legend will live on for eternity...
LP Artist Relations Manager
in 1980 I was sitting in the office of Mr. Nater
(Pete's dad) the president of the Puerto Rican
local of the A.F. of M. I was with Eric
Figueroa listening to all the hoopla the union
had to offer us if we became members. Mr.
Nater gets a call from New York City and they
tell him that Tito Puente had just died.
I was shocked to say the lease and started to
cry as I remembered the many times I was blessed
to have seen and played with him.
About twenty minutes later Mr. Nater gets another
call from New York advising him that it was a
mistake and that Tito was fine and dandy.
the next time I saw Tito was at SOBs when I played
there the first time with Giovanni. That
was about thirteen years later. I told him
that I had already grieved at the news of his
death back in 1980 so to please forgive me if
I don't cry at the real gig. We all broke
into laughter, Tito, Eddie Palmieri, Mario Rivera
and myself. Well now is the real gig and
I cried when I heard that the King has passed
everyone will record tributes and write tons of
great things in his honor. Record companies
will release and re-release his music in his honor
and forward the profits to Tito's favorite charities.
The United States Postal Service will issue a
stamp of the King and Newsweek and Time magazines
will run his picture on their covers. I
wish it could all have been done while he was
here to enjoy it. I'm just glad that I was
able to grieve him while he was alive and able
to tell him just how much he meant to me and how
much I hurt at that moment.
LONG LIVE THE KING................
was always so appreciative when you would do anything
for him. Due to this, I considered it a honor
to be able to do special things for him. Most
recently, a set of Gold plated Timbales to commemorate
his years in the music business. Anytime he was
either in the office or you saw him in an outside
setting, he was always quick to acknowledge you.
Serious business conversations, quickly took a
humorous direction. The banter between Tito &
Martin was always the highlight of a day in the
was always struck by the respect Tito received
from our younger artists, many of whom are world
class players in their own right. Taking
care of the product needs of Joe Madera &
Johnny Rodriguez, I always sensed their appreciation
for what Tito meant to them not only musicaly
but his obvious care for the members of his band.
Seeing The King today at his wake holding a pair
of his Signature Timbale sticks, I designed in
conjuction with Tito, I felt truly honored to
be connected with him.
LP Manager of Research & Development