Wildman of Rhythm: The Life and Music of Benny Moré
Winner, Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Excellence
“Wildman of Rhythm [is] the singer’s first English-language biography that finally exposes . . . this corner of the Earth to the genius that was Benny Moré.”—LA Weekly
“Captures the singer’s flamboyant manner, sense of humor and hard-living lifestyle, and his dedication to his family. Moré emerges finally as an immensely tragic figure, remaining in Cuba during the flurry of events surrounding the Cuban revolution that sent other artists abroad.”—fRoots Magazine
“Benny Moré’s life is the prism though which all music history must pass now. He is the missing link to the past, a giant of a figure alive and well again, at last.”—JazzTimes
Benny Moré (1919-1963) was one of the giants at the center of the golden age of Cuban music. Arguably the greatest singer ever to come from the island, his name is still spoken with reverence and nostalgia by Cubans and Cuban exiles alike.
Unable to read music, he nevertheless wrote more than a dozen Cuban standards. His band helped shape what came to be known as the Afro-Cuban sound and, later, salsa. Moré epitomized the Cuban big-band era and was one of the most important precursors to the music later featured in the Buena Vista Social Club. Even now, to hear his recordings for the first time, it is impossible not to be thrilled and amazed.
Journalist John Radanovich spent years tracking down the musicians who knew Moré and Moré family members, seeking out rare recordings and little-known photographs. Radanovich provides the definitive biography of the man and his music, whose legacy was forgotten in the larger scheme of political difficulties between the United States and Cuba. Even the exact spelling of Moré’s first name was unknown until now. The author also examines the milieu of Cuban music in the 1950s, when Havana was the playground of Hollywood stars and the Mafia ran the nightclubs and casinos.
John Radanovich has written for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, DownBeat, Jazziz, and Offbeat. He lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.