Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Jan. 1: Spanish violinist and band leader Xavier Cugat was born on this date in 1900...

... he died on October 27, 1990.

Xavier Cugat's full name was Francesc d'Asís Xavier Cugat Mingall de Bru i Deulofeu from Girona , Spain. A Catalan-American bandleader who spent his formative years in Havana, Cuba. A trained violinist and arranger, he was a key personality in the spread of Latin music in United States popular music. He was also a cartoonist and a successful businessman.

Cugat was born as His family emigrated to Cuba when Xavier was five. He was trained as a classical violinist and played with the Orchestra of the Teatro Nacional in Havana. On 6 July 1915, Cugat and his family arrived in New York as immigrant passengers on board the S.S. Havana.

He started his musical career with a band called The Gigolos during the tango craze. Later, he went to work for the Los Angeles Times as a cartoonist. Cugat's caricatures were later nationally syndicated. His older brother, Francis, was an artist of some note, having painted the famous cover art for F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby.

In the late 1920s, as sound began to be used in films, he put together another tango band that had some success in early short musical films. By the early 1930s, he began appearing with his group in feature films. He took his band to New York for the 1931 opening of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and he eventually replaced Jack Denny as the leader of the hotel's resident band.

One of his trademarks was to hold a Chihuahua while he waved his baton with the other arm.

(Continued below video and Amazon portals ...)

(Press album cover for direct link to the entire Amazon Website):
Very Best of Xavier Cugat

For 16 years Cugat lead the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel's orchestra. He shuttled between New York and Los Angeles for most of the next 30 years, alternating hotel and radio dates with movie appearances in You Were Never Lovelier (1942), Bathing Beauty (1944), Week-End at the Waldorf (1945), On an Island with You (1948), and Neptune's Daughter (1949), among others.
Abbe Lane

Cugat followed trends closely, making records for the conga, the mambo, the cha-cha-cha, and the twist when each was in fashion. Several of the songs he recorded, including "Perfidia", were used in the Wong Kar-wai films Days of Being Wild and 2046. In 1943, "Brazil" was a big hit, reaching #17 in the Billboard Top 100.

Cugat recorded on Columbia Records, RCA Victor , Mercury Records and Decca Records. Dinah Shore made her first recordings as a vocalist with Cugat in 1939 and 1940.   In 1940, his recording of "Perfidia" became a big hit.
Charo - "Coochie, Coochie!!"

Cugat was married five times. His first marriage was to Rita Montaner,  his second to Carmen Castillo,  his third to Lorraine Allen, his fourth to singer Abbe Lane, and his fifth to Spanish guitarist and comic actress Charo.


For more about Xavier, visit his Website at -


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