1966 Joe Cuba – Bang! Bang!
Gilberto Miguel Calderón grew up in Harlem, Puerto Rico, and Spanish Harlem in the fifties and sixties. He primarily played the conga and began performing in bands by the late fifties. He organized his own band as José Calderón Sextet but his agent convinced him to change the name to the Joe Cuba Sextet shortly thereafter.
Joe, Ray Barretto, and Richie Ray, were at the forefront of the developing Latin soul sound in New York in the mid-sixties. They worked towards the fusion of English and Puerto Rican music that became known as the developing Latin soul sound in New York.
Joe’s first hit came in 1965 with the release of El Pito (I’ll Never Go Back to Georgia), which we’ll revisit in a few days.
His first charting single was Bang Bang. While the record may have stalled at #63 in 1966, the song is instantly recognizable to anybody who ever heard it. The mixture of English and Spanish on a record pre-dates most of the crossover songs you might expect to hear many, many years later.
The Latin Boogaloo sound of his hit stretched into most of the Latin boogaloo music that followed in the last half of the sixties, especially in the Puerto Rican sections of New York City.
Joe died at age 77 in 2009 after releasing over thirty albums.
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