Celebrated Cuban percussionist Tata Güines, known as "the king of the drum", died Monday in Havana, aged 77, according to family sources.

Local TV confirmed his passing away in the early hours, 10 days after being admitted to hospital with kidney problems and high blood pressure.

Arístides Soto Alejo, his real name, was born on June 30, 1930, in the small town of Güines, south east of Havana. His family's musical roots and close links to percussive rhythms were associated with its African "santería" beliefs.

In 1957, he went to New York for two years where he worked with Dizzy Gillespie in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. He returned to Cuba in 1959, and joined Frank Emilio's Jazz Band, before forming his own outfit.

Güines played on two Latin Grammy-winning albums - "Lágrimas Negras" (2004) by exiled Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés and Spanish gypsy singer Diego La Cigala; and "La Rumba Soy Yo" (2001) by Rumba Cubana All-Stars. He also guested on Jane Bunnett's Latin Grammy nominated "Cuban Odyssey" (2003). Güines won the Cuban National Music Award in 2006.

He often described how when he met the legendary percussionist Chano Pozo in pre-Revolutionary Cuba in the 1950s. Güines would play anywhere and sleep wherever he could after performing in Havana's long-disappeared jazz bars and cabarets.