Guitar player, clarinet player and composer.
Francisco Repilado Muñoz, the great Compay Segundo, was born on November 18, 1907 in Siboney beach, located in Santiago de Cuba province. Being a child, his family settled down in Santiago City where he learned tobacco-roller trade. At the same time, he received music classes with young teacher Noemí Toro, who encouraged him to play any instrument. That is how he began to study the clarinet.
In 1929, he made his first trip to Havana, as clarinet player with the Municipal Music Band to participate in the inauguration of the National Capitol. His second and final trip to the capital took place in 1935 together with Ñico Saquito and his Cuban Star. Sometime after, he traveled to Mexico to join Lorenzo Hierrezuelo, also from Santiago, and together they founded in 1942 the famous "Los Compadres" duet where Hierrezuelo was the prima voice ("Compay Primo") and Francisco repilado the second voice ("Compay Segundo), and this alias always marked his artistic presence.
He also joined "Los Seis Ases" sextet, the "Cuarteto Cubanacán", and also performed as clarinet player with the Municipal band in Santiago de Cuba. In 1956, he created the "Compay Segundo" group with whom he performed until his death.
Besides playing the tres, the guitar and the clarinet, Compay Segundo also played the armónico, a hybrid instrument between the guitar and the tres that he himself created.
Throughout his artistic life, he performed the widest range of Cuban music genres, both as interpreter and performer, but he was a genuine master of the Cuban son, inserting his Cuban nature in texts, harmonies, and melodies which always displayed the musical essence of the eastern region of the country. Guarachas and boleros added to his creative values.
When he was ninety years old, he hit the headlines once again with his deep and melodic voice thus becoming one of the most acclaimed artists at international level. In 1998, during the recording of the "Buena Vista Social Club" record, his presence was rediscovered by audiences across the world and in the following years he toured all continents with a resounding success.
He is the author of well-known sones like "Chan Chán", "Macusa", "Sarandonga", "Saludos, Compay" and many other pieces.
Francisco Repilado died in Havana in 2003. His physical disappearance was a sensitive lost for Cuban music. But musicians from the "Compay Segundo" group are still performing to keep alive the soul of Cuban traditional music.