For a man who is credited with recording one of the catchiest songs of all time, and with a prolific discography, more is known about Pete Rodriguez’s musical style—Latin boogaloo—than about the man himself. What is known is that he was born in Aril, 1932 to Puerto Rican parents and was the leader and pianist of Pete Rodríguez Y Su Canto, his band.
The band’s most successful song, “I Like It Like That”, recorded in 1967, has appeared in Chef (a 2014 film starring Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, and John Leguizamo) and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (a bestselling console video game).
Boogaloo, also called bugalú, originated in New York City and was developed as a fusion of African-American rhythm and blues (R&B), soul music, mambo, and son montuno—it quickly became a dance favourite among Hispanic and Latino youth in the city because of its energetic tempo. A guaranteed party starter in the 1960s, Latin boogaloo songs were sang in English or Spanish with American Bandstand, a popular television show of the era, often credited with bringing it to mainstream audience. But its true origins can be traced to wherever dancing feet could be found.
Rodríguez’s output is prolific: 13 studio albums recorded between 1964 and 2003. At Last!, King Of Latin Boogaloo, I Like It Like That (A Mi Me Gusta Así), and Oh, That’s Nice! (Ay, Qué Bueno!) are ranked among his most appreciated and loved records.
Incomplete histories plague numerous musicians recording and producing outside the mainstream; researching the lives of Latin music’s most iconic musicians can sometimes be an archeological task. Nonetheless, the importance of artists like Rodríguez can never be underscored. Their work has laid the foundation for music genres and dance styles that are still around today.
Here is to the King of Latin Boogaloo.
How do we like his music? Loud.
And on repeat.
Oh, that’s really nice.
Oh, That’s Nice
I Like It Like That
Because music is open to endless interpretation and reinvention, Pete Rodríguez’s unforgettable song formed the bedrock of one of Cardi B’s biggest hits.
Cover Image: fania.com