- Compay Segundo, the salty Cuban singer and guitarist who rose to global fame in his 90’s as the eldest of the elder musical statesmen featured on the album and film “Buena Vista Social Club,” died on Sunday at his home in Havana, an official at his record company in Spain said.
….Mr. Segundo was the most accomplished of the dozen or so Cuban musicians gathered in Havana in 1996 by the American producer Ry Cooder for a recording session meant to recapture the lost music of Havana’s pre-Revolutionary nightclub scene, the golden age of an African-influenced style called son.
“Compay was what is left of the real son,” Mr. Cooder said. “He had the feeling of it, the essence.”
Mr. Segundo was nearing 90 at the time of the “Buena Vista” sessions, but his rich and resonant baritone was undiluted, and his appearance in the film confirmed that his libido also remained intact. He bragged of being the father of five, and said with a mischievous grin that he was keen to sire a sixth.
Born Máximo Francisco Repilado Muñoz, he got his stage name – Cuban slang for second compadre – from his specialty in low harmonies. But by the time of “Buena Vista” and his solo albums, Mr. Segundo was singing lead.
The album and film of those sessions were both called “Buena Vista Social Club.” The album was released in 1997 by the British music company World Circuit, and distributed in the United States by Nonesuch; the film, directed by Wim Wenders, was released two years later. Both became worldwide hits and revitalized the careers of all the Cubans, most of whom had spent decades in menial jobs.
Mr. Segundo had worked rolling cigars. Another, Ibrahim Ferrer, had been a shoeshiner. [NY Times]