Buena Vista Social Club's Oramas Dies At 95

Cuban musician Faustino Oramas, adored for his saucy ballads and one of the last remaining stars behind the acclaimed "Buena Vista Social Club" album, died today (March 27) at age 95, Cuban state radi

Cuban musician Faustino Oramas, adored for his saucy ballads and one of the last remaining stars behind the acclaimed "Buena Vista Social Club" album, died today (March 27) at age 95, Cuban state radio said.

Nicknamed "El Guayabero" after a town that inspired him to write a song after he got into trouble there for flirting with a married woman, Oramas died of liver cancer in a hospital in his hometown of Holguin, according to the report.

Often called the king of double-entendres, Oramas composed "Candela" -- one of the most rhythmically charged tracks on the 1997 Buena Vista CD. The project brought together the semi-forgotten masters of Cuban "son," a rootsy and passionate style of traditional music considered the backbone of salsa.

Many of its stars have already died -- guitarist Compay Segundo and pianist Ruben Gonzalez in 2003, aged 95 and 84, singer Ibrahim Ferrer in 2005, age 78, and singer-composer Pio Leyva last year at age 88.

Oramas first made his name as a troubadour, wandering from town to town with his guitar and soon became famous for lacing his lyrics with metaphors and sexual innuendo.

Buena Vista Social Club, spearheaded by American guitarist Ry Cooder, and the documentary by Wim Wenders that accompanied it, thrust Cuban son onto the international scene in the late 1990s. Buena Vista was the name of a seniors-only social club in a western Havana neighborhood.

While documents record his birth as in 1911, Oramas was never sure of his exact age. Some say he was as old as 103.

Oramas was philosophical about his death, describing life in one of his later songs as being like an express train running on time as the rails, and noting the train could never stop or go backwards. "Death comes and it doesn't warn you," he said in a recent interview. "The day it comes for you, nobody can do anything to stop it."


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