Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez (salsa singer)
Legal name: Pedro Juan Rodríguez Ferrer
Pedro Juan Rodríguez Ferrer (January 31, 1933 – December 2, 2000), better known as Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez was a salsa singer born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. His son, also named Pete Rodriguez, is also a salsa and jazz musician.
Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez was a percussionist who started playing bongos at the age of five. After working with local groups in Ponce, Puerto Rico, he moved to The Bronx during the 1950s. While singing and playing the congas in a Bronx bar, he was spotted by legendary bandleader Johnny Pacheco. His first album was titled Suavito, which was released in 1963.
Just a year later in 1964, Pacheco and his lawyer Jerry Masucci founded The Fania All-Stars, a combination of the best Latin singers and musicians at that time. Pete's first album under the Fania label was Canonazo. Between 1964 and 1973, Rodriguez and Pacheco recorded seven albums including La Perfecta Combinacion (1970), Los Compadres (1971), and Tres De Cafe Y Dos De Azucar (1973).
In 1974, Rodríguez left the Fania All-Stars and concentrated on a successful solo career. His solo debut album El Conde (1974) was an award winner. His 1976 album Este Negro Si Es Sabroso was rated ninth in best Salsa records at that time. That album featured one of his most popular songs, "Catalina La O".
During the 1980s, with the Fania All-Stars on the verge of disbanding, Rodriguez reunited with Johnny Pacheco and recorded four more albums between 1983 and 1989. Their 1987 album Salsobita was nominated for a Grammy. By 1990, he went solo again.
Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez only recorded two albums in the 1990s with one of his hit songs "Esos Tus Ojos Negros" being released in 1993. By 2000, he was hired by Tito Puente to provide lead vocals for a tribute to the late bolero singer Benny Moré. However, the album was released posthumously because Tito Puente died on May 31, 2000. Ironically, Rodriguez also had a heart ailment, but he refused to undergo bypass surgery as Tito Puente did but ultimately died. On December 2, 2000, Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 68.