Joe Cuba, 78, dubbed the "Father of Latin Boogaloo" for weaving a fluid, bilingual mix of musical influences, died Sunday at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City of complications from a persistent bacterial infection, the Associated Press reported.
"He had a dynamic group," with a signature vibraphone-fronted sound that "caused a craze because it was different," Cheo Feliciano, a longtime friend and singer in Cuba's band, told the AP.
Cuba was born Gilberto Miguel Calderon in New York City to parents from Puerto Rico.
He was a teenager when he took up the conga drums and decided to become a professional musician after seeing percussionist and band leader Tito Puente.
He played with several New York-based groups before forming his own band in the 1950s. His agent suggested he call his group the Joe Cuba Sextet.