Puerto Rican Salsa Legend Tite Curet Dies at 77

Tite Curet
Tite Curet
San Juan, Puerto Rico – Puerto Rican composer and journalist Catalino ” Tite” Curet died at age 77 at St. Joseph Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, at 2:00 pm on August 5th. He was one of Puerto Rico’s most famous and prolific composers. Even though he composed all types of music, his salsa songs became hits throughout Latin America. Many of salsa’s most famous artists performed his songs, including Celia Cruz, Rubén Blades, Willie Colón, Ismael Miranda, Cheo Feliciano, Tony Croatto, La Lupe and Los Condes.

The salsa legend was born in Guayama on February 12, 1926. His mother was a seamstress. His father was a musician with the Simón Madera orchestra and also a Spanish language teacher. After their separation, Tite moved with his mother to the Barrio Obrero in San Juan.Tite studied music with maestro Jorge Rubian. He graduated from the Universidad de Puerto Rico with a degree in Social Sciences and worked for over 30 years for the US Postal Service. His first break in the record business happened in 1965, in New York, when he composed music for Joe Quijano and his band Cachana. Three years later, Tite composed the song “El Gran Tirano” for famed Cuban bolero singer Roberto Ledesma. Ledesma did not use the song so it was adapted for female vocals and used by Cuban singer Lupe Victoria Yoli, better known as La Lupe. It was renamed “La Tirana.” La Lupe brought international fame to the song and Curet went on to become an internationally respected composer.

In 1970, salsa became the rage in New York and Tite Curet Alonso became the most sought writer in the genre. He became the main composer for salsa powerhouse Fania Records. Tite also became a well-respected journalist and musicologist. He hosted a radio show called Tropicalísimo for many years, produced in San Juan de Puerto Rico by Radio Universidad. The program featured contemporary and traditional rhythms from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean basin.

Some of his biggest hits were “La Tirana,” “Carcajada Final” and “Puro Teatro,” by La Lupe, “Tiemblas” by Tito Rodríguez, “Las Caras Lindas de mi Gente Negra” by Ismael Rivera, “Plantación Adentro” by Rubén Blades and “Cucubano” by Tony Croatto.