A promising classical violinist by the age of 15, Xavier Cugat would go on to become the “Rumba King” by the time he reached 30. Two years after his birth in 1900, Cugat and his family emigrated from Spain to Cuba. While in Cuba, his talent for classical music was noticed by Enrico Caruso. Caruso, a famous tenor with the Metropolitan Opera Company brought the adolescent Xavier Cugat to the U.S. in 1915. Unfortunately, a disillusioned Cugat temporarily put down his classical violin shortly after performing on a WDY radio broadcast in 1917.
Xavier Cugat would later re-emerge onto the music scene with a new flamboyant style of Latin music that included the Rumba, Cha Cha, Mambo and Tango. His newly formed Latin band became popular in 1928, after the group began playing during intermission at the famous Los Angeles hotspot, the Cocoanut Grove located in the Ambassador Hotel. During this same period, Cugat resumed playing the violin on a daily radio program broadcast by KFWB. The “Rumba King” made his way to the Waldorf-Astoria, where he became the highest paid performer in the history of the hotel. By 1934, Cugat and his band became featured performers on “Let’s Dance,” a nationwide weekly radio program sponsored by the NABISCO company. The popularity of Cugat’s Latin music peaked during the 1940’s; however, Cugat continued to perform until a stroke partially disabled him in 1969.
Enjoy the Xavier Cugat Orchestra Remote broadcast from 66 years ago today, Jan 26, 1945: