Beny More Biography

Bartolomé Maximiliano Moré Gutiérrez, 24 August 1919, Santa Isabel de las Lajas, La Villas Province, Cuba, d. 19 February 1963. An outstanding singer (‘his voice was like a bambo in the wind’, said Cuban writer Miguel Barnet in 1984), band leader, composer and arranger, the inimitable Moré, nicknamed ‘El Bárbaro del Ritmo’ (the Barbarian of Rhythm), is still idolized and the subject of tributes nearly three decades after his death. Moré worked with various groups, duos and trios before arriving in Havana in the early 40s. There he performed in the cafes and bars of the capital’s bohemian society; sang with Cuarteto Cordero and Sexteto Cauto and debuted on Radio Mil Diez. In the mid-40s he joined the group of Miguel Matamoros (leader, composer, guitarist, vocalist; writer of the immortal ‘Son De La Loma’ and other classics), with whom he made his recording debut and travelled to Mexico. Matamoros returned to Cuba, but Moré remained and recorded prolifically with the orchestras of Cubans, Mariano Mercerón, Arturo Núñez (with whom he had his first major hit ‘Mucho Corazón’) and Pérez Prado, and Mexican composer Rafael de Paz, among others. With Prado, he toured Mexico and performed at Carnival in Panama.

After his 1950 return to Cuba, Beny worked with the orchestras of Mariano Mercerón (again), Pacho Alonso, Fernando Alvarez and Bebo Valdés. In 1953, Moré organized a 21-piece aggregation which he named his Banda Gigante (Giant Band). Personnel included the great pianist/arranger Peruchín (Pedro Jústiz, 1913-1977), trumpeter Alfredo ‘Chocolate’ Armenteros, trombonist/arranger Generoso Jiménez and Beny’s brother Delfin Moré. Moré and Banda Gigante had hit after hit and made a tremendous impact throughout the Latin Caribbean, Latin America and the North American Latino community. Salsa singer-songwriter and film star Rubén Blades said in 1986: ‘Beny Moré for many reasons was a god-like man... this black man had a band of black guys who played as good as any white band anybody had ever seen in the movies, you know, the big bands from the North. We had never seen so many guys from Latin America playing with that authority. And Beny himself had a fantastic voice’. Moré was reputed to have led a bohemian and bawdy lifestyle, which included lengthy drinking-bouts. He died at the age of 44, reportedly from cirrhosis of the liver.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.