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Ibrahim Ferrer, 78; Found Fame in Buena Vista Social Club

August 08, 2005|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer

Ferrer's belated recognition prompted the re-release of several of his early recordings, for which he had never been given credit.

He toured Europe with Alonso's group in 1962 and continued to work in his own country, mostly as a backup singer.

But Havana's music scene declined during the early years of Fidel Castro's government, and Ferrer had to supplement his meager musician's pay with jobs as a carpenter, painter and dockworker.

"I sold peanuts and shined shoes to earn a living," he once said, "but I was always singing. I really, really like singing."

Ferrer retired from Los Bocucos in 1991, later noting in his Nonesuch Records website biography, "I felt ... disappointed by my life in music."

Six years later, however, he zoomed upward, in Cooder's words, from "shining shoes ... to Carnegie Hall and up -- complete eclipse to tremendous stardom."

Information on survivors other than Ferrer's wife was not available.

Two fellow Buena Vista Social Club members, singer Compay Segundo and pianist Ruben Gonzalez, died in 2003.


Times staff writer Jon Thurber contributed to this report.

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