Daniel Santos (February 5, 1916 – November 27, 1992) was a Puerto Rican
singer and composer
, and an overall performer of multiple Caribbean
music genres, including guaracha
. Over the course of his career he adopted several names created by the public and became known as "El Jefe" and "El Inquieto Anacobero".
Santos (birth name: Daniel Doroteo Santos Betancourt
) was born and raised with his three sisters, Sara, Rosa Lydia and Luz América in Trastalleres, a poor section of Santurce, Puerto Rico
. He attended Las Palmitas Elementary School.
In 1924, his family moved to New York City
looking for a better way of life. When his parents, Rosendo and María enrolled him in school, he had to start from the first grade again because he did not know enough English. Santos joined his high school's choir, but he dropped out of high school in his second year and moved out of his parents' apartment. When he was fifteen years old he began looking for work in Manhattan
Santos moved into a small apartment, where, one day, he started to sing "Te Quiero, Dijiste" (You said 'I Love You'). A member of the Trío Lírico was passing by and heard him sing. He then knocked on Santos' door. The trio member invited Daniel to join the trio and he accepted. Santos debuted with them on September 13, 1930; he sang in various social events and was paid a dollar for every song that he sang.
He returned to Puerto Rico only to return once more to Manhattan after he unsuccessfully tried to acquire a job as a singer at WKAQ
, which was one of the island's main radio stations.
"Cuarteto Flores" with Pedro Flores
In late 1933 and 1934, Santos performed in a nightclub named ''Los Chilenos'' located near Broadway
and was paid twenty dollars per weekend.
Personally, Santos led a life of excesses, including maintaining several romantic relationships at once. In 1938, Santos was working at the Cuban Casino Cabaret in Manhattan
, which was normally visited by Puerto Ricans and other Latino
s. His chores included singing, waiting on tables and on occasions he was the master of ceremonies for which he was paid a salary of thirty dollars. On one occasion, he was singing "Amor Perdido" (Lost Love), without knowing that the composer of the song Pedro Flores
was in the audience. Flores liked what he heard and invited Santos to join his group "El Cuarteto Flores" which also included Myrta Silva
, and would in the future also include Pedro Ortiz Davila
(also known by his stage name "Davilita").
Santos recorded many songs with the Cuarteto Flores and started to gain fame. Among the songs he recorded were: "''Perdon''"; "''Amor''"; "''El Ultimo Adios''" "Si Yo Fuera Millonario" by singer/composer Miguel Poventud
and ''Borracho no Vale'.
Participation in World War II
In the early 1940s, many young Puerto Rican
men were drafted for World War II
, among them Santos. Santos recorded "''Despedida''" (My Good-bye), a farewell song written by Flores from the viewpoint of an Army recruit who had to leave behind his girlfriend and his ailing mother, which became a hit.
Santos recalled in an interview once that he had to hold back tears while recording the song, since his draft
papers had just arrived and he would soon have to live a situation similar to what the song's lyrics described, but that a friend started mocking him at the control booth, to which he decided to curse him on the spot, trading the word ''mama'o'' (an extremely vulgar term in Puerto Rican Spanish) for mamá (mother). This incident produced two mannerisms that Santos eventually adopted in his singing style: chopped delivery (almost syllable by syllable, as suggested by Flores) and stretched last vowel in the last verse of each stanza, in almost every song he recorded afterwards.
He was sent to Maui
Island, after completing his basic military training in Kentucky
. In Maui, he was assigned to a US Army infantry unit which was used to replenish casualties in the Pacific theatre. Santos would joke that he escaped the "replenishment levies" because of his guitar playing skills. Nevertheless, he was sent to Okinawa towards the end of the war. While in the military Santos teamed up with Juanito Jiménez as a part of a duo dubbed ''Los Cumbancheros''.
After the war concluded Santos returned to New York, where he received a tribute upon his arrival. There he recorded "''Linda''", written specially for him by Flores
for one of Santos' old girlfriends.
Santos became active in the Puerto Rican Independence Movement
and identified himself with the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
and its president Pedro Albizu Campos
after he was discharged from the military because of the prejudice which he experienced within the Army
His devotion for Albizu lasted throughout his life, to the point of commissioning, later in his life, a bronze bust of Albizu for his estate in Puerto Rico. With Davilita, he recorded "''Patriotas''" ("''Patriots''") and "''La Lucha por la Independencia de Puerto Rico''" ("''The Fight for Puerto Rico's Independence''"), which was adopted from one of Juan Antonio Corretjer
On March 1946, Santos inaugurated a bar and restaurant named ''Borinquen'', and administrated the establishment for some weeks. Two months later he began singing Mexican music
at Greenwich Village
Later that year he visited the Dominican Republic
, where he had legal problems and was jailed briefly.
Santos in Cuba
By this time Santos' fame had grown and he decided to travel to Cuba
, establishing a residence in Havana
in 1946. At the moment Cuba was experiencing economic growth and Santos developed an interest in the island. Upon arriving he experienced success, making presentations in Paseo del Prado
, Miramar and Vedado
These included a special presentation titled ''Alegrias de Hatuey'', which was broadcast by "Radio Progreso", a radio station. He participated and sang for several other stations, including RHC-Cadena Azul
, where he participated in a program named ''Cascabel''.
This exposition came after he established friendships with local public figures.
The Cuban public created two names adopted by Santos, these were ''Inquieto'' and ''Anacobero'', which he later fused and became known as ''El Inquieto Anacobero''.
He also made five presentations in theaters, among them the Martí Theater
In 1948, Santos was invited to perform in the Cuban National Palace by the president in office, Carlos Prío Socarrás
. This year also marked Santos' debut with La Sonora Matancera
, where he served as vocalist. His first successful single was titled ''Bigote de Gato'', based on an area of Havana named "Luyano", which was infamous for serving as the home for fortune teller
s. Later that year Santos was arrested after becoming involved in a fight where he accidentally injured a woman after trying to defend himself.
Santos was subsequently pardoned by Prío Socarrás, but he asked to remain in jail twelve additional days to spend the Christmas
celebration with some of the inmates.
While in prison he composed a single named ''El Preso'' and was asked to write ''Amnistía'' as part of a campaign to promote the well-being of inmates. This was followed by several successful productions with Sonora Matancera.
These included ''Dos gardenias'' and ''Pa' fricasé los pollos'', which were based on Cuban music. Among several other contemporary records were: ''El juego de la vida'', ''El 5 y 6'', ''El ajiaco'', ''El niño majadero'', ''Ramoncito campeón'' and ''El tíbiri tábara''.
On March 10, 1952, Fulgencio Batista
organized a successful coup d'état
and took control of the island's government. Santos, known for his Puerto Rican independentist preferences, was never in the good graces of the dictator. He made his nationalistic and democratic views well known throughout Latin America. As many people during those days, he viewed Fidel Castro's fight against Batista very favorably. In 1958, forbidden by Batista from returning to the island, he composed the song "''Sierra Maestra''", which borrowed parts of the official hymn of the 26th of July Movement
. Santos donated the profits from "''Sierra Maestra''" to the Cuban Revolution.
Return to Puerto Rico
He returned to the island later that year and began an international tour on 1953, among the countries visited were Venezuela
In 1954, he returned to Puerto Rico and performed in hotels located in San Juan before continuing his tour throughout America which extended from 1955 to 1956. The tour concluded with a presentation in New York and he is returned to Cuba.
Later that year he visited Ecuador
for the first time in his artistic career. Here he was contracted to perform in a theater named "Apolo", where he worked with a band named the "Costa Rica Swing Boys". During his third presentation Santos lost his voice without completing the scheduled show, he tried to explain the situation to the public but was unable to calm them down and a riot erupted.
While in Ecuador he composed two successful singles, ''Cataplum pa and ''Cautiverio''.
Late in 1956, Santos recorded with a Venezuela
n record label named "Discomoda".
In 1959, he briefly returned to Cuba. It was during this trip that he confronted Raul Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara about the political nature of the Cuban Revolution he had supported. He left Cuba abruptly, never to return, when Castro and Guevara failed to convince him that the Cuban Revolution was "nationalistic". A self proclaimed "anti-communist", he explained that he had supported the Cuban Revolution because its leadership had assured him that it was not communist.
On July 22, 1972 he performed in the inauguration ceremony of ''El Balcon del Pueblo'', a building owned by Radio Cristal, which was located at Guayaquil
In this activity he performed for two consecutive hours, working an additional hour due to public acclaim.
During the last years of his life, Santos toured the United States and Latin-America
, while experiencing health problems. He continued performing with several music groups. While he performed with the ''Sonora Matancera'', Santos suffered a heart attack while he was sleeping in a hotel located in La Reforma
after eating dinner.
Santos continued performing during the following decades, making presentations in several Latin American
countries. He continued to sing the songs which he had written during his career until he finally retired and established a residence in Florida.
In 1991, Santos visited some friends in New York City's ''Barrio Latino'', during this visit Santo's was walking through the street on a Saturday evening when he fainted and collapsed. He was attended by some bystanders and residents of the neighborhood who called the New York City Police Department
When the police arrived at the scene they transported him to a local hospital, Santos was released two days after. During this time Santos was also suffering from mental illnesses, including memory loss due to Alzheimer's disease
Despite his health he made final presentations in some of Puerto Rico's municipalities where he received recognitions in San Juan and Ponce.
Santos was also invited to participate in a music festival in Cuba, where he was supposed to receive a homage, but he was unable to attend.
Over the course of his life Daniel Santos was legally married on twelve separate occasions.
His first marriage took place in 1934, where he married Lucy Montilla when he was eighteen years old. In 1947, he married Cuban socialite Eugenia Pérez Portal, who gave him his first son in 1948, Daniel Jr. After this he was involved in several relationships with women of several Latin American countries, on occasions having more than one consecutively.
When he was fifty-six years old he married Luz Dary Padredin. The couple had two children, Danilú and David Albizu. Santos' last marriage was with Ana Rivera, who was originally of Puerto Rico.
Daniel Santos died on November 27, 1992, aged 76, at his ranch, "Anacobero's Ranch" in Ocala, Florida
. He is buried at what is virtually Puerto Rico's national pantheon Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
in Old San Juan
, geographically quite close to where Albizu Campos and Pedro Flores were interred. Due to the scarcity of empty space in the cemetery, when fellow Puerto Rican singer and Santos' boyhood friend Eladio Peguero (commonly known as "Yayo El Indio") later died, he was also buried in Santos' tomb.
Santos' life was the subject of one semi-autobiography
, ''El Inquieto Anacobero: confesiones de Daniel Santos a Héctor Mújica'', written as Santos told his story to Venezuela
n author Héctor Mújica in 1982. His life was also the subject of three biographical books: ''Vengo a decirle adiós a los muchachos'' (1989), by Josean Ramos; ''La importancia de llamarse Daniel Santos'' (1988), by Luis Rafael Sánchez
and ''El Inquieto Anacobero'', by Salvador Garmendia
*List of Puerto Ricans
*Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
Category:Burials at Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
Category:People from Santurce, Puerto Rico
Category:Puerto Rican people of Spanish descent
Category:Musicians from Ocala, Florida
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Category:Members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
Category:Puerto Rican composers
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Category:Singers from San Juan, Puerto Rico
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Category:20th-century American composers
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