Here’s to My Great Uncle, One of the Great Lovers and Singers of Latin America, By Davin Michael Stedman

danielsantosThis video is my great uncle, the magnificent Daniel Santos AKA “El Jefe” when he was a young buck. He was a phenomenal singer and they used to call him the Frank Sinatra of Latin America. He had 12 wives. He told his biggest fans Fidel Castro and Che to kiss his ass when they wouldn’t admit to him that they were actually communists – after he wrote them a hit theme song for their Revolution. He was actually discovered while singing in the shower. No kidding. A well-known band leader heard him singing from outside his project apartment in NYC and knocked at his door and had him singing for him that night.

Maybe my favorite story about Daniel Santos was that when he was locked up in some Latin American country for being a ladies man, he was so well regarded by the other inmates he insisted that he stay with his fellow inmates in jail through Christmas to keep the boys company with stories and song.

As distant as this world seems, my surviving Puerto Rican relatives from his generation still talk about him. His first cousin was telling me at a reunion how he it wasn’t fault that he kept up a relationship with this particular woman she seemed to infer was quite married. “She just kept coming to him” she said. I just burst out laughing. I couldn’t help it, it was ridiculous. So is marrying 12 different women all over the Americas; many of which overlapped. But, when you’re Daniel Santos and you write songs like ‘Linda’ and sing like a brown eyed angel…the ladies keep comin’… and the police will find a reason to throw you in jail for somethin’.

Here’s to my Great Uncle, one of the great lovers and singers of Latin America. A Puerto Rican kid from New York that the old folks still remember as ‘El Jefe’. Here’s a drink for you kid.

Davin Michael Stedman

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