Mambo Legend Israel 'Cachao' Lopez Dies

Photo: Rahav Segev / Retna Ltd.

Latin music lost one of its brightest stars this past Saturday. Israel Lopez, known worldwide simply as Cachao, died in a Miami area hospital. He was 89.

The Grammy-winning musician had fallen ill last week and died surrounded by family members at Coral Gables Hospital, his spokesman Nelson Albareda said.

Actor and musician Andy Garcia, who made a 1993 documentary about Cachao's career, made a statement to press on Saturday: "Cachao is our musical father. He is revered by all who have come in contact with him and his music," Garcia said. "Maestro . . . you have been my teacher, and you took me in like a son. So I will continue to rejoice with your music and carry our traditions wherever I
go, in your honor."

Cachao was born in Havana in 1918, the youngest of three children whose parents played and taught the bass. "Our house was a wreck, with instruments everywhere," Cachao told the New York Times in 1991. "There were people playing all the time."

He left communist Cuba in 1962 and moved first to Spain, then New York, Las Vegas, and ultimately Miami.

Cachao, whose wife, Esther, died in 2004, is survived by a daughter and a grandson.

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