Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Compay Segundo

Compay Segundo (November 18, 1907 - July 13, 2003), was a Cuban musician and songwriter.

Segundo was born Máximo Francisco Repilado Muñoz and brought up in the city of Santiago de Cuba. He became a songwriter and performer, well-known to fans of Cuban music. He was also the inventor of the armónico, a seven-stringed guitar-like instrument.

His curious stage name derives from the fact that he played second voice in a popular duet of the fifties called Los Compadres (compadre, or compay for short, in Cuba means baptism brother, but as a voice is used also to designate a good friend).

However, international fame only came in 1997 with the release of the Buena Vista Social Club album, a hugely successful recording which won several Grammy awards. Compay Segundo appeared in the film of the same title, made subsequently by Wim Wenders.

His most famous composition is Chan-chan, whose four opening chords are instantly recognizable the world over from its being the opening track on the Buena Vista Social Club album. Chan-chan was recorded by Segundo himself various times as well as by countless other Latin artists.

He predicted that he would live to be 115, but died of kidney failure in Havana, twenty years short of his ambition, and three days before Celia Cruz.