Dámaso Pérez Prado (December 11, 1916 – September 14, 1989) was a Cuban bandleader, musician (singer, organist and pianist), and composer. He is often referred to as the 'King of the Mambo'. His orchestra was the most popular in mambo. His son, Pérez Prado, Jr., continues to direct the Pérez Prado Orchestra in Mexico City to this day.
Born as Dámaso Pérez Prado in Matanzas, Cuba, his mother was a school teacher, his father a newspaper man. He studied classical piano in his early childhood, and later played organ and piano in local clubs. For a time, he was pianist and arranger for the Sonora Matancera, Cuba's best-known musical group. He also worked with casino orchestras in Havana for most of the 1940s, and gained a reputation for being an imaginative (his solo playing style predated bebop by at least five years), loud player.He was nicknamed "El Cara de Foca" ("Seal Face") by his peers at the time.
In 1948 he moved to Mexico to form his own band and record for RCA Victor. He quickly specialized in mambos, an upbeat adaptation of the Cuban danzón. Prado's mambos stood out among the competition, with their fiery brass riffs and strong saxophone counterpoints, and most of all, Pérez's trademark grunts (he actually says "¡Dilo!", or "Say it!", in many of the perceived grunts). In 1950 arranger Sonny Burke heard "Que rico el mambo" while on vacation in Mexico and recorded it back in the United States as "Mambo Jambo". The single was a hit, which caused Prado to launch a US tour. His appearances in 1951 were sell-outs and he began recording US releases for RCA Victor.
Prado is the composer of such famous pieces as "Mambo No. 5" and "Mambo No. 8". At the height of the mambo movement, in 1955, Prado hit the American charts at number one with a cha-cha version of "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" (composed by French composer Louiguy). This arrangement, featuring trumpeter Billy Regis, held the spot for 10 consecutive weeks. The song also went to number one in the UK and in Germany. Prado had first covered this title for the movie Underwater! in 1954, where Jane Russell can be seen dancing to "Cherry Pink". In 1958 one of Prado's own compositions, "Patricia", became the last record to ascend to #1 on the Jockeys and Top 100 charts, both of which gave way the following week to the then newly-introduced Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song also went to number one in Germany, and in the UK it reached number eight.
However, since the Castro government took over Cuba, it prohibited any existing recordings of him and his orchestra from being put into a record compilation for many years. For this reason, phony or secondary versions of "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" and "Patricia" were put into compilations instead, disappointing a lot of Prado fans. This, however, changed only in the mid-1990s.
His popularity in the United States matched the peak of the first wave of interest in Latin music outside the Latino communities during the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. The early '50s were a busy time for Prado, who mounted a number of international tours as the mambo sound spread like wildfire. In Peru, Catholic authorities threatened to deny absolution for anyone who participated in mambo dancing, to little discernible effect.
Prado also performed in films in the United States and Europe, as well as in Mexican cinema (Rumberas film), always with his trademark goatee and turtle-neck sweaters and vests. With the end of the 1950s, his success waned, and the years gave way to new rhythms, like rock 'n roll and then pop music. His association with RCA ended in the 1960s, and his recorded output was mainly limited to smaller labels and recycled Latin-style anthologies.
In the early 1970s Prado permanently returned to his apartment off Mexico City's grand Paseo de la Reforma to live with his wife and two children, son Dámaso Pérez Salinas (known as Perez Prado, Jr.) and daughter María Engracia. His career in Latin America was still strong. He toured and continued to record material which was released in Mexico, South America, and Japan. He was revered as one of the reigning giants of the music industry and was a regular performer on Mexican television. His last United States appearance was at Hollywood on September 12, 1987, when he played to a packed house. This was also the year of his last recording.
Persistent ill health plagued him for the next two years, and he died of a stroke in Mexico City on September 14, 1989, aged 72. (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia)
QUE RICO EL MAMBO was the mambo that opened the doors to Perez Prado around the world. It took the whole world by storm. The hit parade charts went through the roof. This video clip includes; The Dolly Sisters, Rita Montaner, Resortes, the hot and sexy Mimi Marshall and the original orchestra and the original sound.