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Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Latin legend Puente dies
Tito Puente
On the drums: Tito Puente in action in 1992
Musician Tito Puente, who was widely credited with shaping the sound of Latin jazz, has died in hospital in New York aged 77.

Puente recorded more than 100 albums in more than 60 years in the music industry.

He won his fifth Grammy earlier this year for Mambo Birdland, which won best traditional tropical Latin performance.

Among the artists he inspired was Carlos Santana, who recorded Puente's 1946 track Oye Como Va early in his career.

"Every time he plays Oye Como Va, I get a nice royalty cheque," Puente said.

The eldest son of Puerto Rican parents, he was born Ernest Anthony Puente Junior in New York on 20 April 1923.

Showman

His father, Ernest Senior, was a foreman in a razor blade factory, and his mother called their son Ernestito - little Ernest - which was later shortened to Tito.

She enrolled him in a piano class at the age of seven. He later studied drums before switching to the timbales - a pair of single-headed drums mounted on stands and played with sticks.

He changed jazz by bringing the timbales to the front of the stage, playing them standing up. Previously, they had been played behind the band.

"In front of a bandstand, you've got to be a showman," he said.

He had been released from a Puerto Rico hospital on 2 May after treatment for an irregular heartbeat, and had been resting during the month.

He leaves a wife, Margie, two sons and a daughter.

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Santana's Grammy glory
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