Feliz cumpleaños to the great salsero Cheo Feliciano. Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, his family moved in the '50s to Spanish Harlem. As a teenager he started playing percussion with Tito Rodriguez' orchestra and with Kako's group. As well, he toured as a roadie with Mon Rivera.
In 1956 he joined the Joe Cuba Sextet as their baritone-voiced Español-singing counterpart to the velvety English-languaged voice of Jimmy Sabater. The group became hot shit and made several amazing records for Tico and Seeco. In '67 Cheo left the group to join the Eddie Palmieri band. He sang with them until '69, when Cheo's heroin addiction forced him off the scene for a bit.
After rehab and with support from Cheo's good friend the composerTite Curet Alonso, he made it back to the music scene with a solo album (Cheo) in '71, a huge seller. He recorded several albums (including boleros) for Vaya before founding his own Coche label in the early '80s. He performed in the 1987 stage musical Clemente, about the ballplayer.
He signed to RMM in the '90s and continued recording and touring to great success, including collaborations with Palmieri, Rubén Blades, Fania All-Stars and the Salsa Giants. Just a month or two after winning a year-long battle with cancer Cheo died in a car accident in April '14 in Puerto Rico.