Photo courtesy of Hispanicize

While we are always talking about the lead singers of bands, their success comes from not only their vocals but also the musicians that play along with them. 

There are pianists, guitarists, violinists — you name it. However, sometimes it is easy to forget a key member, drummers, as they typically sit in the back of the stage due to their large equipment. On this ‘Hug a Drummer Day’, let’s make sure to give these musicians the recognition they deserve and appreciate all their work.

Here are some Latin drummers who have changed the face of music. 

Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez 

Horacio “El Negro” Hernández was born in Havana, Cuba. Growing up in Cuba, his family exposed him to all types of music. His grandfather would listen to traditional music, his father would listen to jazz, and his brother would listen to American rock music. 

Hernandez loved the diversity between all these genres of music, which ultimately inspired him to embark on his musical journey. His unique style has been a “driving force behind some of the most popular and influential Latin and Latin-fused music of the past two decades.”

He started to build his reputation with his work as a drummer for the legendary pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. This recognition led to his ultimate departure from Cuba, and he has gone to play for artists such as Carlos Santana, Alejandro Sanz, and Eddie Palmieri. 

Tito Puente 

Born in New York and of Puerto Rican descent, Tito Puente is one of those names you’ve probably heard at least once in your life. He was dubbed the “King of Mambo” in the 1950s because his work blended jazz and Latin sounds that led to some of the most popular mambo hits of the time. 

Tito Puente forever changed the face of music due to his hard work. He recorded around 120 albums in his lifetime and would play anywhere between 200-300 performances a year. Puente went on to receive five grammy awards. He even introduced the United States to the queen of Azucar herself, Celia Cruz. 

Unfortunately, Tito Puente passed away in the year 2000. His legacy, however, lives on.

Dave Lombardo

For all my alternative Latinxs, Dave Lombardo will probably be your favorite drummer on this list. Lombardo was born in Cuba and moved to the United States at a young age. While many Latin drummers end up in the jazz, pop, or salsa genre, Lombardo used his talent in a completely different way. 

He showed the world the diversity of the Latin community and became a drummer in the rock genre. He was the drummer of the famous band Slayer for many years and has since continued exploring this genre and further amplifying the voice of Latino musicians who think outside of the box.