Cuban vocalist, songwriter and tres player Reinaldo Hierrezuelo, better known as Rey Caney, died on Tuesday, February 23rd in Havana. Rey Caney was a highly influential figure in Cuban music.
Reinaldo Hierrezuelo, was born December 30, 1926 in Santiago de Cuba. In 1930 Rey Caney founded the seminal Cuban band Cuarteto Patria along with his cousin Francisco (Pancho) Cobas, Emilia Gracia and Rigoberto “Maduro” Echevarría. They performed traditional trova, boleros and música guajira (Cuban country music).
In 1952, Rey Caney formed the popular duo Los Compadres together with his brother Lorenzo. They accompanied celebrated singer-songwriter María Teresa Vera and Compay Segundo throughout the world.
He later joined Conjunto Caney, led by Benitico Yánes. Rey later joined other groups like Brisas de Nipe, Melodías del Sur and Orquesta de Lino Borbolla. In 1960 he traveled to New York with Miguelito Cuni and debuted with Arsenio Rodriguez.
During the 1960s, Rey Caney recorded with Sonora Matancera, sharing lead vocals with Celia Cruz and Celio González. He later joined the Sonora as a permanent member.
In 1994, Rey Caney co-founded the Vieja Trova Santiaguera with the intention of recording just one album. But the success of the ensemble was such, thanks to the support of Spanish record label Nubenegra, that they ended up recording more albums. This international success led to a renewed interest in traditional Cuban music and preceded the Buena Vista Social Club phenomenon.
In 1999, Rey Caney recorded a solo album for Virgin Records titled “Enamorado de la vida” (Love of Life).
In 2003, Rey Caney retired after releasing “El balcón del adiós” with Vieja Trova Santiaguera.