Cuban icon Isarael López died of kidney failure at age 89. Emilio Estefan remembers his legacy of talent

By People Staff
March 24, 2008 11:00 AM
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Cuban musician Israel López, better known as Cachao, died of kidney failure early Saturday morning at a hospital in Miami. He was 89.

“The best of Cuba came to life in Cachao, because for us, he represented a standard. Losing his indisputable talent is something that can’t be put into words,” producer Emilio Estefan told AFP news agency about the artist who celebrated traditional Cuban music and put Latin American jazz on the map.

Born Sept. 14, 1918, in Havana, Cuba, the musician began playing the bongos at only 8 years old. At age 12 he earned a spot playing the double bass in the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra, where he stayed for three decades. In 1962, López and his wife emigrated to the United States, where he became a standout in Latin music.

Throughout his long career, the artist shared the stage with stars like Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, took part in composing over 3,000 songs, and became a salsa master. Cachao was awarded the Best Latin Album GRAMMY in 1995 for his disc Master Sessions, and again in 2005 for ¡Ahora sí!. Cachao followers can pay homage to the artist on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where this is a star in his honor.