Cuban Salsa Trumpeter Pedro Knight Dies at 85

Cuban trumpeter Pedro Knight, the widower of salsa singer Celia Cruz, died February 3, 2007, at a hospital in Arcadia (Los Angeles), California. He was 85.

Pedro Knight Caraballo was born September 30, 1921. He was a trumpet player at the famous Sonora Matancera when Celia Cruz was hired as a backup singer. The couple soon began a relationship that lasted until Cruz’s death in 2003.

In 1960, members of the Sonora Matancera moved to Miami, Florida, fleeing Fidel Castro’s Cuba. In 1961, they began singing at the prestigious Palladium Ballroom in New York City.Knight and Cruz  got married in 1962. It was at that point, that Knight decided to step back and let his wife take all the limelight, although he continued to tour as one of her musicians. Ironically, the fact that he took a step back in order to help his wife’s career, also made him famous and well-respected across Latin America. He would be interviewed multiple times by television shows and make multiple show business friendships, including Maria Celeste Arraras, who expressed her respects to him about three months after Cruz’s death, by telling him on live television to "remember (that we) all like you".

Knight was devastated by Cruz‘s death. Cruz used to call him "mi cabecita de algodón" ("my little cotton head"). He stood by her side as she suffered from cancer, and he had expressed hope in public that she would recuperate.

A fact that is not well known by the public is that Knight battled cancer himself; just one day after his wife underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her breast, Knight went through surgery himself, having a cancerous tumor or polyp removed from his colon.

Although he has been able to attend several activities dedicated to his late wife (such as a book signing of Cruz’s auto-biography), his health was severely affected by her death, and, on July 7, 2004, he fainted during a cancer fundraiser in Miami, requiring hospitalization. Doctors there diagnosed him with low blood pressure, caused by his diabetes and by an emotional breakdown during the ceremony.

Knight was involved in various posthumous projects dedicated to his wife, including books, CD’s and a biographical movie.

On September 26, 2005, Knight had to be hospitalized once again, this time suffering from a brain stroke. He is expected to have a lengthy but full recovery.

On February 16, 2006, Knight was once again hospitalized, after suffering from pain on his left arm. He was taken to an intensive care unit. He apparently had a heart attack.

Biographical information courtesy of

Photo: Pedro Knight with his wife Celia Cruz. Courtesy of National Eye Institute.