Compay Segundo, one of Cuba’s oldest “troubadours” and charming frontman for the Buena Vista Social Club group, died this morning (July 14) in Havana. He was 95. Segundo, whose real name was Francisco Repilado, died of kidney failure at his home in Miramar, Havana. The guitarist and singer will be buried in his native Santiago in eastern Cuba.
Segundo shot to international fame with the 1997 Grammy Award-winning recording “Buena Vista Social Club” produced with the collaboration of American guitarist Ry Cooder. The record brought back into the limelight a group of talented musicians who had all but been forgotten in Cuba, including Segundo, pianist Ruben Gonzalez, and singers Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo.
The group’s fame was catapulted further by the film “Buena Vista Social Club” by German director Wim Wenders.
Segundo, who was born in 1907 in Siboney, outside Santiago, enjoyed a second youth traveling around the world and recording two albums of his own. Wearing his trademark Panama hat, he gave concerts until this May, when his health deteriorated.
“The flowers of life come to everyone. One has to be ready not to miss them. Mine arrived after I was 90,” the cigar-smoking musician said in a recent interview.
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