Born in Cuba, Perez worked with casino orchestras in Havana for most of the 1940s before moving to Mexico in 1948 to form his own band. He quickly got himself a contract with RCA and his brand of mambo, an upbeat adaptation of the Cuban rhumba, proved especially popular across the whole of the American continent. Whilst the style was already enjoying popularity in the Latin American countries, Perez and his band were one of the earliest to break into the lucrative United States market. Perez was equally quick to capitalise on his new found popularity, touring the US and also appearing in a number of films and was subsequently rewarded when his cover of Cherry Pink topped the charts for ten weeks. That led to a slew of mambo hits, earning Perez the accolade of King of the Mambo. Although his US popularity dipped after the 1960s, he remained a huge star in Latin America and, after one of his singles had been used in a television commerical in Britain for Guinness, became a star all over again in the 1990s.