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Xavier Cugat & His Orchestra

Remembered for his highly commercial approach to pop music, Xavier Cugat (born Francisco de Asis Javier Cugat Mingall de Cru y Deulofeo) made an even greater mark as one of the pioneers of Latin American dance music. During his eight-decade-long career, Cugat helped to popularize the tango, the cha-cha, the mambo, and the rhumba. His hits included "El Manicero" in the 1930s, "Perfidia" in 1940, and the original recording of "Babalu" in 1944. Members of Cugat's band included Desi Arnaz, Miguelito Valdés, Tito Rodriguez, Luis del Campo, Yma Sumac, and his third wife (of four), Abbe Lane. Cugat used the success of his musical career as a springboard for a movie career that included appearances in such films as Gay Madrid (1930), You Were Never Lovelier (1942), Bathing Beauty (1945), Weekend at the Waldorf (1945), Holiday in Mexico (1946), On an Island With You (1948), A Date With Judy (1948), Chicago Syndicate (1955), and Desire Diabolique (1959).

A native of Girona, Spain, Cugat emigrated with his family to Cuba in 1905. Trained as a classical violinist, he played with the Orchestra of the Teatro Nacional in Havana at the age of 12. Emigrating to the United States, sometime between 1915 and 1918, he quickly found work accompanying an opera singer. At the height of the tango craze, in 1918, Cugat joined a popular dance band, the Gigolos. His involvement with the group, however, was brief. As the popularity of the tango faded, he took a job as a cartoonist for The Los Angeles Times. Cugat returned to music in 1920, forming his own group, the Latin American Band. Although they played regularly at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles and supplied the soundtracks for several musical shorts, the group had its greatest success after moving to New York and became the house band for the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Despite being criticized for their middle-of-the-road approach, Cugat remained committed to his commercial-minded sound. He later explained, "I would rather play 'Chiquita Banana' and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve." Cugat and his orchestra remained at the hotel for 16 years. Beautiful women were consistently featured in Cugat's band. After helping Rita Hayworth launch her career, he appeared in her film You Were Never Lovelier. Cugat's recordings of the 1950s featured the singing of his third wife, Abbe Lane. In the mid-'60s, he featured his fourth wife, Charo, who he billed as a "folksinger." Upon his retirement in 1970, Cugat returned to Spain. He died in Barcelona on October 27, 1990. His band, which was led by Tito Puente following his retirement, continued to perform under the direction of dancer, musician, and vocalist Ada Cavallo. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: King Of Latin Rhythm

1. Perfidia

4. Night Must Fall

8. Green Eyes

11. Tico-Tico

22. Frenesi

23. Oye Negra

24. La Cumparsita

x

Track List: Xavier Cugat Y Su Orquesta

1. Brasil

2. Cielito Lindo

3. Aquellos Ojos Verdes

4. Perfidia

5. Aquellos Ojos Negros

6. La Cucaracha

7. La Bamba

8. El Cumbanchero

9. La Golondrina

10. Quiéreme Mucho

11. La Virgen De La Macarena

12. Amapola

x

Track List: Scoop

9. Miami Beach Rhumba

x

Track List: World Masters (Rosita La Bonita)

1. Rosita La Bonita

2. Cachita

3. Negra A Reza'

4. Auto-Conga

5. Calentito

6. Bim-Bam-Bum

7. Bruca Marrigua

8. Habanera

9. Babalu

10. Chango Ta Beni, Live

11. Tabu, Live

12. Para Vigo Me Voy

13. Negra Leono

14. Enlloro

15. Los Hijos De Buda

16. En La Plantacion

17. Benabe

18. Adios Africa

x

Track List: Rumba Rumbero

1. Blen, Blen, Blen

2. Macurije

3. Rumba Rumbero

4. Nueva Conga

5. Tunare

6. Cinco Hijos

7. Guaira

8. Mi Conga

9. Elube Chango

10. Los Hijos De Buda

11. En La Plantacion

12. Benabe

13. Adios Africa

14. Bruca Manigua

15. Habanera

16. Babalu

17. Chango Ta' Beni

18. Tabu

19. Para Vigo Me Voy

20. Negra Leonor

21. Enlloro

x

Track List: Cugi's Cocktails

1. Cuba Libre (Gurarcha)

2. One Mint Julep (Cha-Cha Twist)

3. Old-Fashioned (Beguine)

4. Daiquiri (Bossa Nova)

5. Cocktails For Two (Cha-Cha)

6. Rum & Coca Cola (Mambo)

7. Cugi's Cocktail (Hully Gully Cha Cha)

8. Grasshopper (Rhumba)

9. Blue Champagne (Bossa Nova)

10. Zombie (Bolero)

11. Manhattan (Cha-Cha)

12. Singapore Sling (Rhumba)

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