It is taking longer than expected to fetch the next song to play. The music should be playing soon. If you get tired of waiting, you can try reloading your browser.

Please check our Help page for information about troubleshooting Pandora on your browser.

Please ensure you are using the latest Flash Player.

If you are unable or do not wish to upgrade your Flash Player,
please try a different browser.

Please check our Help page for information about troubleshooting Pandora on your browser.
Your Pandora One subscription will expire shortly.
More Info
No Thanks
Your Pandora One trial will expire shortly.
Your Pandora One trial subscription will expire shortly. Upgrade to continue unlimited, ad-free listening.
Upgrade Now
You've listened to hours of Pandora this month. Consider upgrading to Pandora One.
More Info
No Thanks
Hi . Pandora is using Facebook to personalize your experience. Learn MoreNo Thanks
 Upgrade  sign up   |   help   |  
Change Skin

Free personalized radio that
plays the music you love

Now Playing
Music Feed
My Profile
Create a Station
People who also like this

Perez Prado

Universally known as the King of the Mambo, Pérez Prado was the single most important musician involved in the hugely popular Latin dance craze. Whether he actually created the rhythm is somewhat disputed, but it's abundantly clear that Prado developed it into a bright, swinging style with massive appeal for dancers of all backgrounds and classes. Prado's mambo was filled with piercing high-register trumpets, undulating saxophone counterpoint, atmospheric organ (later on), and harmonic ideas borrowed from jazz. While his tight percussion arrangements allowed for little improvisation, they were dense and sharply focused, keeping the underlying syncopations easy for dancers to follow. Prado played the piano, but was often more in his element as the focal point of the audience's excitement; he leaped, kicked, danced, shouted, grunted, and exhorted his musicians with a dynamic stage presence that put many more sedate conductors and bandleaders to shame. With this blueprint, Prado brought mambo all the way into the pop mainstream, inspiring countless imitators and scoring two number one singles on the pop charts (albeit in a smoother vein than the fare that first made his name) as the fad snowballed. He was a star throughout most of the Western Hemisphere during the '50s, and even after his popularity waned in the United States, he remained a widely respected figure in many Latin countries, especially his adopted home of Mexico. Prado is often best remembered for his softer, more commercial work, which has an undeniable kitschiness that plays well with modern-day lounge-revival hipsters. Unfortunately, that has served to obscure his very real credentials in the realm of authentic, unadulterated Latin dance music, and to this day he remains somewhat underappreciated.

Damaso Pérez Prado was born in the heavily Afro-Cuban area of Matanzas, Cuba, on December 11, 1916 (though he habitually gave his birthdate as five years later). According to custom, he carried both his father's and mother's last name; his earliest recordings were issued under the name D. Pérez Prado, but the "D." was dropped on his American releases, and in 1955 he had his full name legally shortened to Pérez Prado. Starting in childhood, Prado studied classical piano, and by the time he finished school, he was good enough to play piano and organ professionally in local clubs and movie theaters. He moved to Havana around 1942 and freelanced for a number of smaller orchestras over the next year or so. Chiefly a pianist at this point, he also landed an arranging job with Gapar Roca de la Peer, which sometimes supplied material to the highly popular Orquesta Casino de la Playa. The orchestra's lead vocalist, Cascarita, liked Prado's work, and soon they hired him as arranger and pianist. This was the early platform Prado needed to develop his own arranging style, and after-hours jam sessions around Havana were already influencing his rhythmic concepts. Seeking to bring more excitement into the well-established rumba rhythm, Prado began to experiment with the hard swing of American jazz, influenced especially by the harmonically sophisticated big-band music of Stan Kenton. He also sought to build new Afro-Cuban-derived rhythms, including a pattern that was dubbed the mambo, whose early forms were traced back to Arsenio Rodriguez and Orestes Lopez.

Prado's innovations were greeted with outright hostility from Cuba's conservative musical establishment, which resisted the incursion of jazz on their native music. No longer able to find arranging work, he left Cuba in 1947 to try his luck in Puerto Rico. He eventually joined a touring group that swung through Argentina, Venezuela, Panama, and Mexico, and emerged as their star attraction. In 1948, he relocated to Mexico City and set about putting together his own orchestra, which featured a core membership of Cuban expatriates. One of those was singer Beny Moré, who performed and recorded with Prado (among several other bandleaders) through 1950; the association helped make Prado's orchestra a top draw in Mexico City, and set Moré on a path to becoming one of Cuba's best-loved singers. RCA's Mexican division signed Prado as an artist in his own right in 1949, and his first 78 rpm record, "Que Rico el Mambo" b/w "Mambo No. 5," was a hit across much of Latin America. In 1950, RCA reissued it in the U.S., with the A-side's title changed to "Mambo Jambo"; it had moderate success there too. Over 1950, Prado released numerous singles in Mexico; most of them were titled in tribute to a broad range of social classes and occupations, which helped make them wildly popular. Additionally, Prado appeared in several Mexican films, generally playing himself and spotlighting his stage act.

The early '50s were a busy time for Prado, who mounted a number of international tours as the mambo sound spread like wildfire. In Peru, Catholic authorities threatened to deny absolution for anyone who participated in mambo dancing, to little discernible effect. Prado's first U.S. tour came in 1951, with Beny Moré accompanying him; because of musicians' union rules, he was often forced to hire local musicians in place of his Mexican personnel, and train them rigorously in a very short period of time with little knowledge of English. The tour was a smashing success, however, especially on the West Coast, and RCA started releasing his records on their main RCA Victor imprint, rather than consigning them to a specialty subsidiary. In late 1953, Prado caused a stir when he was abruptly deported by Mexican officials to Havana; his sudden disappearance (he was arrested in a backstage dressing room) sparked rumors of kidnapping before he finally resurfaced to explain that he had forgotten to renew his visa.

Prado returned to the U.S. in 1954, embarking on another hugely successful tour of the West Coast. He then made his way to New York, where his orchestra played several upscale venues that helped make mambo all the rage among upper as well as lower classes. Spurred by mambo nights in clubs across the city, mambo was pushing its way into the pop mainstream, as traditional pop crooners and R&B/blues artists alike recorded Latin-flavored novelty items paying tribute to the emerging fad. Seeing that his music could cross over to the lucrative white market, Prado began to tailor it for mainstream consumption, scoring minor hits with covers of the theme from the Italian film Anna and the South African tune "Skokiaan," which signaled the beginning of a more polished studio sound. He finally scored a breakout pop hit in early 1955 with "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White," which was used as the theme to the Jane Russell film Underwater!. Ironically for the Cuban-born El Rey del Mambo, his first major hit was an adaptation of a French song ("Cerisier Rose et Pommier Blanc"), and its underlying rhythm was a cha-cha. Powered by a dramatic, swooping trumpet lead by Billy Regis, "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" spent an astounding ten weeks at number one on the pop charts, making it one of the biggest instrumental hits of all time. The accompanying album, Mambo Mania, was Prado's first full-length 12" LP, and mostly featured material he'd recorded during his time in Mexico.

Prado took advantage of his success to attempt more ambitious compositions during this period. His first effort in this vein was 1954's The Voodoo Suite, an impressionistic tone poem for Afro-Cuban big band that incorporated elements of jazz and exotica. West Coast trumpeter Shorty Rogers helped out on the arrangements, and the results often recalled Stan Kenton's progressive big-band mood music, albeit with a Latin sound. The 1956 album Havana 3 A.M. was a wilder excursion that ranked as probably the purest, most authentically Latin record of Prado's commercial period. Of course, there were many commercial projects too; the biggest was 1958's Prez, which fell just short of the Top 20 on the pop LP charts. That same year, Prado scored his second number one single with the self-composed "Patricia," a slinky if subdued instrumental spotlighting his organ playing. The tune was later used in a steamy, controversial sequence in director Federico Fellini's classic La Dolce Vita. The follow-up single, "Guaglione," just missed the Top 50.

Determined not to become a one-trick pony, Prado had begun to experiment with new rhythms and dance forms as early as 1954. A rhythm he called "La Culeta" was his answer to the cha-cha, adding violins to the required instrumentation. Several others -- the suby and the pau-pau (both mid-'50s), La Chunga and El Dengue (both early '60s) -- failed to catch fire with the public as mambo had. In the early '60s, Prado began to flirt with rock & roll dances, adding Twist-type rhythms and tempos to albums like 1961's Rockambo and 1962's The Twist Goes Latin (the latter featured Twist reworkings of his two chart-topping singles). However, he wasn't simply chasing trends during this period; 1962 brought another compositionally ambitious tone poem, The Exotic Suite of the Americas, which added strings and a movie-soundtrack feel to an Afro-Cuban big band. Unfortunately, Prado was running out of commercial steam, his early thunder largely stolen by rock & roll. His last American album for RCA, Dance Latino, was released in 1965, and by the early '70s, he had returned to Mexico City permanently.

Despite his declining fortunes in the U.S., Prado remained an icon in much of Latin America, and he continued to tour successfully in Mexico, South America, and Japan during the '70s. He also released records in those markets, and appeared frequently on Mexican television. In 1981, he appeared in a musical revue, Sun, that enjoyed a lengthy run in Mexico City. A false report surfaced in 1983 that Prado had died in Milan, Italy, but it was actually his younger brother, Pantaleón Pérez Prado, who had passed away; Prado had been forced to sue Pantaleón in 1956 for impersonating him and using the performing name Pérez Prado to draw audiences in Europe. Prado himself started grooming his son, Pérez Prado, Jr., to take over the reins of his orchestra in the mid-'80s. Prado returned to America for a final concert at the Hollywood Palladium in 1987; although age and ill health had taken its toll on his stage demeanor, the appearance was a sold-out success. He passed away in Mexico City on September 14, 1989, after suffering a stroke. Prado's music has lived on in popular culture in the years since his death: "Guaglione" was a near-number one hit in England in 1995 after being featured in a Guinness beer commercial; "Patricia" was adopted as the theme for the HBO documentary series Real Sex; and "Mambo No. 5" was adapted into the unnervingly catchy novelty hit "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of...)" by Lou Bega in 1999. Prado Jr. continues to direct his father's orchestra in Mexico City. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: The Best Of Perez Prado - The Original Mambo No.5

1. Mambo No.8

2. Skokiaan

3. Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White

4. Mambo A La Kenton

5. Babarabatiri

6. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas

7. Quien Sera

8. Mambo No.5

9. Anna (El Negro Zumbon)

10. Marilyn Monroe Mambo

11. Frenesi

12. Que Rico El Mambo (Mambo Jambo)

13. El Manisero

14. Perfidia

15. Silbando Mambo

16. Patricia

17. Pachito Eche

18. Mambo En Sax

19. Guaglione

20. Pianolo

21. Caballo Negro (Black Horse)

22. Hiegh-Ho (The Dwarfs' Marching Song)


Report as inappropriate
Gracias, how delicious!
Report as inappropriate
Siempre disfruto escuchando Prez Prado...en una clase por sí solo!
Report as inappropriate
The best��
Report as inappropriate
Don't Read this. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by e love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. Now you started reading this. But if you read this and ignore it, then you will have very bad luck.
Report as inappropriate
Peres prado with his music made me dance at the early years of my life in my. Beautiful island of Cuba Manuel from Michigan .
Report as inappropriate
Pérez Prado was a maverick... as a piano player, he would pound the crap out of those keys and play impressionis t i c solos in the early 1940s that were at least 20 years ahead of his time; as an arranger, he would create counterpoint by having different sections of his orchestra riff against each other. We was fearless in adopting influences from anywhere and everywhere. As a band leader, he'd use both braggadocio and self-depreca t i n g humor while conducting a very tight unit. He was one of a kind
Report as inappropriate
There's fun. There's illegal. Then there's mambo. It's legal and if you're still. THATS illegal!
Report as inappropriate
rociojoansev a s t i a n
Report as inappropriate
Damazo erez prado was so great i've the opprtunity of attended some of his dances in cuba and mexico as well viva siempre Perez prado
Report as inappropriate
Ay Mamacita!!!
Report as inappropriate
El Maestro Cachao created (invented so to speak) the Mambo. Perez Prado made it famous throughout the world from Mexico where he lived for many years. Cachao and Perez Prado were both Cubans. Just FYI. Now, let's dance! Vamos a bailar el Mambo!
Report as inappropriate
The. Best. Of. Best
Report as inappropriate
You don't have to be Latin to enjoy great music :D!
Report as inappropriate
Great ! Love it man !
Report as inappropriate
Love this kind of music and others that have a beat wakes me up and want to dance no matter what I am doing, makes me feel like a kid and I am 71
Report as inappropriate
I LOVE THIS kind of music, including tangoes rumbas sambas and all latin including calypso
Report as inappropriate
P'erez Prado! I,m so glad to hear him again and to know that he has,nt faded into th mists of time. Thanks Pandora. DMB
Report as inappropriate
kind of ear piercing but nice
Report as inappropriate
Report as inappropriate
real good music easy to listen to.
Report as inappropriate
This is real music. Before my era but the enjoyment is such.
Report as inappropriate
I had the honor of watching him and his orchestra in the 50's in Phoenix Az. And what a performance he gave. He was electrifying and a master at what he did. I remember he and his musicians walked on stage in their ruffled shirts playing all kinds of instruments including the bongo drums. The beautiful lady dancers wore cat costumes that were out of this world. I was a teenager and not allowed to drink but we all felt giddy with joy dancing to his great music. It brings back wonderful memories.
Report as inappropriate
Report as inappropriate
Perez Prado was highly underrated by many who should have known better; his mastery of the piano and big band arrangements was incredible. The fact that he became a society performer beginning in the mid 50's hid the greatness he truly possessed.
Report as inappropriate
I grew up with this guy and I love his music. Makes your feet misbehave!!
Report as inappropriate
Que barbaro!!! Este tipo si tenia ritmo!!! Viva Perez Prado!!!

Don't have a Pandora account? Sign up

We're sorry, but a browser plugin or firewall may be preventing Pandora from loading.

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please upgrade to a more current browser.

Please check our Help page for more information.

It looks like your browser does not support modern SSL/TLS. Please upgrade your browser.

If you need help, please email:

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please upgrade to a more current browser
or install a newer version of Flash (v.10 or later).

In order to use Pandora internet radio, please install Adobe Flash (v.10 or later).

[111, 116, 106, 105, 82, 108, 127, 82, 108, 126, 93, 72, 99, 97, 73, 102, 65, 65, 95, 101, 65, 79, 125, 114, 91, 73, 102, 69, 109, 65, 85, 76, 70, 82, 124, 95, 96, 119, 71, 116, 91, 66, 124, 70, 111, 127, 127, 84, 88, 117, 127, 111, 74, 85, 124, 104, 98, 125, 98, 127, 89, 87, 75, 115, 104, 120, 120, 74, 103, 106, 84, 74, 103, 123, 78, 85, 85, 64, 89, 88, 120, 96, 79, 116, 65, 115, 102, 87, 113, 66, 76, 94, 99, 126, 109, 124, 115, 123, 127, 66, 66, 110, 65, 124, 76, 110, 84, 89, 91, 119, 123, 120, 119, 111, 116, 87, 88, 124, 111, 107, 69, 83, 121, 69, 86, 65, 109, 96, 127, 113, 94, 104, 77, 71, 89, 127, 96, 101, 117, 120, 87, 103, 87, 93, 94, 84, 95, 102, 100, 83, 78, 83, 121, 111, 74, 87, 77, 70, 110, 104, 86, 126, 64, 118, 111, 119, 79, 76, 111, 94, 95, 100, 106, 89, 85, 77, 88, 109, 103, 122, 85, 82, 109, 121, 110, 70, 121, 85, 69, 117, 112, 98, 93, 71, 117, 104, 76, 76, 64, 68, 66, 90, 76, 112, 105, 118, 67, 72, 78, 114, 74, 88, 110, 100, 118, 72, 126, 71, 102, 82, 102, 113, 81, 66, 119, 118, 127, 109, 67, 112, 75, 115, 120, 90, 85, 85, 92, 80, 117, 87, 101, 126, 67, 86, 79, 115, 81, 79, 65, 124, 108, 99, 125, 83, 74, 89, 84, 114, 117, 116, 85, 87, 121, 71, 68, 64, 95, 116, 103, 116, 107, 70, 96, 80, 79, 123, 126, 65, 109, 107, 78, 74, 122, 109, 97, 67, 76, 105, 127, 94, 106, 64, 76, 117, 123, 85, 64, 85, 88, 75, 70, 108, 95, 78, 98, 123, 121, 105, 127, 96, 71, 91, 96, 124, 118, 97, 73, 70, 76, 88, 84, 82, 114, 83, 85, 89, 114, 90, 98, 124, 90, 114, 123, 71, 100, 104, 97, 72, 94, 125, 105, 87, 120, 84, 113, 110, 99, 93, 92, 102, 115, 69, 120, 87, 100, 107, 94, 69, 89, 83, 72, 72, 76, 121, 72, 78, 106, 83, 108, 125, 115, 127, 90, 88, 124, 122, 114, 71, 82, 124, 97, 95, 66, 107, 116, 94, 117, 75, 86, 110, 107, 64, 102, 119, 115, 94, 96, 66, 78, 127, 100, 98, 73, 64, 85, 113, 72, 101, 126, 86, 79, 73, 108, 93, 86, 121, 90, 125, 94, 90, 64, 124, 114, 73, 74, 96, 67, 91, 92, 80, 81, 112, 78, 99, 77, 82, 70, 69, 87, 67, 113, 117, 99, 100, 118, 122, 98, 110, 71, 95, 84, 84, 105, 115, 86, 77, 66, 115, 87, 79, 114, 125, 98, 69, 85, 121, 73, 99, 116, 71, 65, 65, 112, 90, 78, 66, 106, 89, 65, 100, 110, 70, 67, 68, 98, 89, 75, 80, 87, 124, 118, 126, 106, 80, 74, 111, 99, 104, 99, 122, 81, 120, 77, 98, 85, 103, 83, 104, 87, 117, 77, 113]