The original Mr Babalú Miguelito Valdés, the Havana-born icon was a boxing champion in his twenties before turning to music professionally. Playing around Cuba in son & charanga bands in the '20s & '30s, he played trés, guitar, bass and percussion (also a composer) but it was as a singer & interpreter of Afro-Cuban songs that helped him find fame.
In '37 he joined Orquesta Casino, who were hooked up with RCA-Victor Records, and cut some sides with them, achieving fame enough to do a big tour of Latin America in '39. He joined Orquesta Riverside in '40 before moving to NYC where he found work with Xavier Cugat, Machito, Noro Morales and Tito Rodriguez.
In the mid '40s he formed his own orchestra, achieving success. He appeared in a dozen films and took his act to Las Vegas in the '60s, as well as hosting a TV show. In '67 he released Inolvidables for Verve. A Cuban legend, he teamed a couple of times with the great Sonora Matancera through the years. Valdés died during a performance in Bogotá, Colombia at the age of 66.