Compay Segundo

Active - 1999 - 2003  |   Born - Nov 18, 1907 in Siboney, Cuba  |   Died - Jul 13, 2003 in Havana, Cuba  |   Genres - Music [nf]

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A veteran guitarist whose innovation helped to fuel the Cuban music scene of the 1940s, Compay Segundo's career as a musician received a healthy second wind thanks to director Wim Wenders' 1998 documentary Buena Vista Social Club. Born Maximo Francisco Repilado Munoz in November 1907, Segundo began performing as a musician in his teens. He soon put his instrumental knowledge to work in creating the armonico, a unique seven-string guitar which added a double middle string to further emphasize the harmony of traditional Cuban "son" music (a forerunner to salsa). It was while performing secondary vocals as a member of the duo Los Compadres in the early '40s that Segundo earned his popular moniker, with the other half referring to a shortened, Cuban slang version of the word "compadre." After playing with some of the most popular Cuban musicians of the 1950s and '60s, Segundo's musical career was put on hold as public tastes shifted to accommodate more communist-slanted folk music. During this time, the musician gave up his guitar in favor of a job rolling cigars for Havana's H. Upmann cigar manufacturer. When Wenders' film was released in 1998, a resurgence in Segundo's popularity resulted in two new albums, in addition to frequent touring until two months before his death in 2003 as the result of a massive kidney infection. He was 95.

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