Tito Puente was a musical pioneer, mixing musical styles with Latin sounds and experimenting with infusing Latin music with jazz.
Known for fusing styles and putting a big-band spin on traditional Latin music. In 1948, Puente formed a band that would become known as the Tito Puente Orchestra. A decade later, he released his best-selling album, Dance Mania (1958). His most notable songs include "Babarabatiri," "Ran Kan Kan" and "Oye Como Va." By the end of his decades-long career, Puente was deemed a musical legend in Latin music and jazz circles.
By the end of his decades-long career, Puente, sometimes called the "King of Latin Jazz" or simply "El Rey" ("The King"), made an indelible mark on the popular culture. In addition to making more than 100 albums and creating more than 200 compositions, Puente had become a highly revered musician, regarded as a musical legend in Latin music and jazz circles.
Puente died on May 31, 2000, at the age of 77, in a New York City hospital where he was awaiting heart surgery. Adored by fans across the globe, several supporters waited in line for days to say goodbye to the popular bandleader. He was survived by wife Margaret Acencio, his partner for 30 years; their two children, Tito Jr., a musician, and Audrey, a newscaster; and a son named Richard, also a musician, from his earlier relationship to Ida Carlini.