When George Goldner formed the illustrious Tico Records label, he knew he had to secure the recording rights to the top three most-popular Latin orchestras in New York. He signed Tito Puente, then Machito & his Afro-Cuban orchestra; but wasn’t able to sign up the other leading bandleader, right away. But in 1956, George used his communicative skills to finally get Tito Rodriguez to succumb to form the triumvirate. Tito’s album “Mambo Madness” and the immediate acceptance it received by the Mambo-nicks who embraced this craze proved to have successful results.
Tito’s career began In New York when, as a seventeen year old, was hired as a singer and bongocero for the orchestra of Eric Madriguera. In 1941, he recorded “Amor Guajiro“, “Acércate Más” and “Se Fue la Comparsa“. In 1942, Rodríguez joined the band of Xavier Cugat and recorded “Bim, bam, bum” and “Ensalada de Congas”.
He served in the US Army, and after his discharge returned to New York where he joined the orchestra of José Curbelo. On one occasion, the band performed at the China Doll Cabaret where Tito met a lovely Japanese chorus girl by the name of Tobi Kei (b. Takeko Kunimatsu), who eventually became his wife for life.
This album features many titles that would go on to become classics like “Tremendo Cumban”, Besame La Bembita”, “Mambo La Libertad” and “Donde Estabas Tu”. This album launched a triumphant career of recording notability that would last for decades, until his untimely demise in 1973, at age 50. Puente and Rodriguez carried a respectful rivalry during their careers which served to make them strive for perfection and produce exciting rhythms and musical arrangements for the world to cherish for all time.