Mongo Santamaria (Percussion)
Born: 7th April 1917, Havana, Cuba
Died: 1st February 2003, Miami, Florida, USA
Ramón "Mongo" Santamaría Rodríguez was a Cuban percussionist and bandleader who spent most of his career in the United States. Primarily a conga drummer, Santamaría was a leading figure in the pachanga and boogaloo dance crazes of the 1960s. His biggest hit was his rendition of Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man", which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. From the 1970s, he recorded mainly salsa and Latin jazz, before retiring in the late 1990s.
Mongo learned to play the congas as an amateur rumba musician in the streets of Havana.