music great José 'Cheo' Feliciano, 78, dies in car crash
Send a link to a friend
[April 18, 2014]
By Ana Martinez-Santiago
SAN JUAN (Reuters)
— Puerto Rican singer José
Luis "Cheo" Feliciano, who performed with some of salsa's top stars,
was killed in a car crash in San Juan early Thursday morning, police
He was 78.
Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla declared three
days of mourning for the widely admired salsero.
Feliciano died shortly after 4 a.m, according to Axel Valencia,
a San Juan police spokesman. The El Nuevo Dia newspaper said his
Jaguar hit an electricity pole.
"It appears as if he lost control while taking a curve," Police
Inspector Jorge Hernandez Pena said, adding that he was not
wearing a seat belt.
Not to be confused with the blind José Feliciano, the famed
Puerto Rican guitarist and vocalist with hits including a
rendition of The Doors' "Light My Fire," Cheo Feliciano was born
in Ponce, Puerto Rico on July 3, 1935.
Tributes poured in on Thursday from fellow musicians and fans.
In a Twitter message, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said
Feliciano "always carried with him pride of his beloved Puerto
Rico. He was Caribbean and gave us rhythm and poetry to fill our
Feliciano dropped out of school at 17 and moved to New York in
1952 to train with top salsa orchestras, according to
He started his career as a drummer and got his first shot as a
singer with the Joe Cuba Sextet. He would go on to establish a
solo career in the 1970s and performed with the legendary Fania
[to top of second column]
In 2008, he was honored with the Latin Grammy Awards' Lifetime
Achievement Award in 2008.
In 2012, he released a collaboration with Panamanian singer Rubén
Blades, "Eba Say Ajá."
Feliciano's contribution to salsa "has no expiration date," said
Blades on his website. "He will always be remembered with fondness
and admiration that the greats deserve."
Blades told El Nuevo Dia he started his career imitating Feliciano's
style because he admired its "quality and elegance."
"He was a guide to all of us," said Enrique "Papo" Lucca, a pianist
who played with Feliciano in the Fania-All Stars and was interviewed
while visiting the family home on Thursday.
"He had enormous energy and was a very kind to everyone, as well as
having impeccable artistic talent," he added.
(Writing by David Adams; editing by W Simon)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.