Máximo Francisco Repilado Muñoz Telles, a beloved Cuban guitarist, singer and composer, was known professionally as “Compay Segundo”; Segundo because he was always second voice in his musical partnerships. His most famous composition is “Chan Chan”, the highly recognisable opening track on the Buena Vista Social Club album.
Such was his fame that he performed “Chan Chan” at the Vatican City before Pope John Paul II. He also performed at a fiesta in front of Fidel Castro, who jokingly commented on the musician’s vitality despite his 90-plus years.
He died in 2003, aged 95 and is buried in the cemetery in Santiago.
Thankfully, the man may be gone, but his music lives on. Having experienced the majority of my Cuban trip in a musicless state (due to the ban during the Castro mourning period), I know that the death of music would never be acceptable or accepted.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 11 May 2017