Bebo Valdés, Afro Cuban Music Pioneer, Dead at 94

The pianist and creative icon passed away on Friday.

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Bebo Valdés and son Chucho Valdés in Madrid in 1999 (Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images)

Afro Cuban pianist, composer and pioneer Bebo Valdés passed away on Friday, March 22. He was 94, reports Billboard.

His career took him from behind the piano at Havana’s famed Tropicana club to a hotel lounge in Stockholm, where he played for a living for twenty-five years, before returning to recording and touring when he was in his late seventies. His remarkable comeback reaped five Grammy awards for a succession of masterful Latin jazz recordings, three of which appeared on the Billboard charts. He continued to play the piano after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, spending most of his last years in Southern Spain, at times in the company of his son, the pianist Chucho Valdés, from whom he had been separated for many years before music brought them together again.

"Bebo was one with his music," said Nat Chediak, the Miami-based producer, who, with Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba, made the recordings that brought Valdés his late-in-life renown. "I can't recall a single day that went by without his playing the piano. In a way, it kept him alive."

Read more at Billboard.

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