Entertainment & Arts

Band leader Edmundo Ros dies, 100

Edmundo Ros in 1949
Edmundo Ros introduced Latin beats to UK audiences

Band leader Edmundo Ros, the man credited with popularising Latin American music in the UK, has died at the age of 100.

His death was confirmed by showbusiness charity the Grand Order of Water Rats.

Secretary John Adrian said: "He died last night peacefully at his home in Spain, two months short of his 101st birthday".

Ros received an OBE for services to entertainment in the New Year Honours of 2000.

Royal rumba success

According to the Official Edmundo Ros Website, he was born in Trinidad in December 1910.

The family moved to Caracas, Venezuela, and he became the tympanist in the Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.

By 1937 he had moved to London to continue his classical studies, but instead became involved in popular music, forming his own five-piece Rumba Band in 1940 and making his first recording, for Parlophone, in 1941.

His performances at the Bagatelle Restaurant in London attracted the Royal Family and celebrities of the day, sealing his success.

The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, danced her first dance in public to his music. In later years he and his orchestra were often invited to play at Buckingham Palace.

In 1951 he bought the Coconut Grove and named it the Edmundo Ros Dinner and Supper Club. Only those mentioned in Who's Who were allowed club membership, the website claims.

The band grew and was renamed Edmundo Ros and his Orchestra, selling millions of records.

Among his most popular songs were Yellow Bird and The Coffee Song, containing the lyric: "They've got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil."

During the 1950s and 1960s the Ros orchestra appeared frequently on BBC Radio, but in 1975 he disbanded the orchestra, destroying most of its arrangement sheets.

Albums with his band and orchestra included Chocolate Whiskey & Vanilla Gin, and Broadway goes Latin and Hollywood Cha Cha Cha.

In his retirement, he lived with his wife Susan in Alicante, Spain.

"He was a major figure, one of the biggest names", Mr Adrian said.

"When you get to 100 you stop working. He retired in 1975, but between '39 and '75 he was a big, big name, had his own club in London and played around the world.

"His discography is massive. He was the one who really popularised Latin American music in this country."

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