Saturday, February 19, 2011

Los Principales

"Los Principales"
(c. 1960?)
From left to right: Cesar, Lázaro Massip "El Tao", "El Huevo",
Héctor de la Caridad Santos Gobel "El Áspero", "Papito, el Buman",
Hipólito Calderón, Francisco Calderón"
(Photo courtesy Raúl González Brito "Lali" - retouching by Mark Sanders)

"Los Principales" was a rumba group formed by Hector Santos, "El Áspero," composer of "Aleida va por la calle" and "Se pierde en esta vida." Our friend Lali gave us the picture above to share from his collection, and El Goyo and Loquillo helped us get the names of the members.


El Castillo del Príncipe

It is said that Los Principales was founded while some members were serving time in the prison "El Castillo del Príncipe," hence the name.

There was a lot of turnover in this group ("El Áspero" evidently lived up to his nickname, which means "rough" or "sour" in Spanish, so members didn't last too long) and many well-known rumberos have played in it at one time or another, including, Ricardo Llorca "Chacho" (later with Los Muñequitos), Juan de Díos and El Goyo.

Celeste Mendoza
c. 1965

They are perhaps best known for backing up Celeste Mendoza on her earliest rumba recordings, but we're not aware of any recordings they made under their own name. These are the only two we could find, originally released on Egrem LP 1015 "Sabor a Cuba-Celeste Mendoza." If anyone knows of any others, let us know.

They begin each number with the same little tune:

"Los Principales queremos
invitarle a escucharnos
con Celeste Mendoza;
escucha el güiro, óye el mambo
¡y tu verás!"




6 comments:

Christian said...

What a great find. I had no idea this group existed. Any idea what date or year they formed? Were they one of the many groups formed in the wake of Los Muñequitos?

Barry said...

I'm not sure when they formed, though it probably was post-Muñequitos. I had only heard of them through those Celeste Mendoza recordings. Laly said at least one of those pictured is still alive, and maybe there are some relatives of El Áspero in Havana. Another project!

patricio said...

Great post Barry!!

berta said...

Muy bien Barry, you had the guts to enter the work of rumba and prisons, a very touchy subject... there are many rumbas de prision, but not many people know them, they remain to be as an internal conversation... La Harina esta de moda, by el Llanero, and according to Tao, Linda Habana, tambien...

Anonymous said...

Hector de la Caridad Santos Gobel (El Aspero),fallecio en La Habana el 26/01/80 de un infarto cardiaco,su hijo mayor Chichi tambien murio hace unos 7 años, vivia en Santos Suarez,su otro hijo Hectico vive en El Cerro,sus hermanas Nara,Elita y Julia ademas de su hermano Lázaro y un montón de sobrinos viven en Párraga.

Barry said...

gracias por estos valiosos comentarios.