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Cuban Music Lesson: Rolando Laserie


Get ready to be schooled, asere. It’s time for a Cuban music lesson! Learn to tell your cha cha cha from your mambo without leaving your couch. Put on your dancing shoes, guayaberas, park your 57 Chevy, light up that Habano, and pay attention.

Imagine it’s 1958 in Havana. You put on your best white linen suit and drive your fish-tailed 57 Pontiac to pick up your date. You park your car by the famous cabaret, El Gato Tuerto (the One-Eyed Cat). “Dos mojitos, compay,” you say to the waiter. The music starts and one of Cuba’s greatest crooners, Rolando Laserie, hits the stage. The combination of rum and Rolando’s velvety voice is 100% guaranteed to get you laid. A lot of Cuban baby boomers owe their existence to Rolando Laserie.

Rolando was born in Matas, Cuba in 1923. Matas was your typical sugar town in Oriente. It had a few shacks, a processing plant, and some chickens running around. Rolando developed his golden tones singing with his neighbors after a long day cutting cane. When he turned 17, he headed to Havana to see if he could break into the music biz. He soon found himself playing timbales for Cuban bandleader Miguelito Cuni. One night, the great Benny More heard Rolando singing and invited Rolando to be a back-up singer for his band. Benny helped Rolando to get a recording contract and Rolando soon became one of Cuba’s most popular singers.

Rolando was known for the newsboy cap that he wore when performing. They called him the Cuban Nat King Cole, a nickname that even old Nat himself agreed with. His boleros were sure fire panty peeler. He sang with everyone from Tito Puente to Celia Cruz. Later, he came to the US where he continued to record albums. He also made the hilariously cheesy videos we’ve included in this post. Rolando died in 1998 in Miami. This author’s uncle was Rolando’s doctor at the end. He told me that even though Rolando had advanced dementia and didn’t remember who his family was, he could still remember the words to his songs. Pimp singer to the end.

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