Compay Segundo (1907–2003)

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Compay Segundo (1907–2003)

Compay Segundo was one of the most prominent musicians in recent Cuban history. Born Francisco Repilado and raised in Santiago de Cuba, he started his music career in the 1930s playing the clarinet in the municipal band. In his early years he became familiar with the origins of Son Cubano—a mix of African beats and Spanish guitar and songs. In 1934 Repilado moved to Havana, where he played both the clarinet and the armónico—his own seven-string variation of the tres guitar—and formed a number of bands with famous Cuban musicians, beginning with Ñico Saquito. Repilado and Lorenzo Hier-rezuelo, another musician from Santiago, formed Los Compadres in 1942, when Repilado adopted his professional name, "Compay Segundo." Los Compadres became successful in Cuba, playing mainly sones and boleros, but broke up in 1955. Segundo went solo until the 1970s, when he gave up music and worked in a cigar factory. In 1996 he returned to professional music, featuring on the Buena Vista Social Club recording. Within two years of the release of the recording, Repilado became an international star, winning a Grammy, playing in famous halls worldwide, and making several more records.

See alsoMusic: Popular Music and Dance .


Orovio, Helio. Cuban Music from A to Z. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

Sweeney, Philip. Cuban Music: The History; the Artists; the Best CDs. London: Rough Guides, 2001.

                            Smith Douglas Monson