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Pepe Rodríguez

Extraordinary composer in the traditional vein; extraordinary maestro of our national instrument

Foto cortesía Pepe Rodríguez

The following autobiography of Pepe Rodriguez arrived to us by the courtesy of his pupil, 
Frank Santos

"At the age of 14 I made my own Puerto Rican cuatro, and on it I learned my first musical notes. At about 15 years of age, I made a guitar and on it I learned several chords. Two years later I was accompanying my brother, Baltasar Rodríguez. He was a professional musician. While he practiced on his guitar I followed him on my cuatro.

"At the age of 18 años my brother and I joined and created a group with two cuatros playing as a duo. The name of the group with “Los Hermanos Rodríguez”. Later, at 25, I traveled to New York. Two months after I arrived I recorded eight pieces with the singers Pompo, Chago Alvarado, Claudio Ferrer and others. On that occasion, Claudio Ferrer heard me play and right away he said, "let's make a  trío". The trío was called “Claudio Ferrer y su Trío”. Our debut took place in the Triboro theatre at 125th street in Manhattan, the Hispano theatre, and the Puerto Rico theatre at 138th street in the Bronx.

I accompanied and recorded with Ladislao Martinez, the great “Maestro Ladi.” I participated in a trío with Sarrail Archilla and Polo Ocasio. The name of the trío was “Los Auténticos.” I accompanied my friend Archilla a lot.

I recorded many records with the singers Carmen Delia Dippini, Tony Pizarro, Corozo, Vitin Pérez, Rafita Martínez and others. I also participated in many recordings with Ramito, who I backed many times in theatres. Then I went to play in American hotels with Pepito Arvelo's orchestra.

In 1958 I became a member of Xavier Cugat's orchestra as guitar player. In that role I appeared on television on the Ed Sullivan Show.

In 1968 I returned to Puerto Rico to become a member of the La Playa Sextet, directed by Paul Alicea. Later I entered the Jorge Valle orchestra.

I played with many American and Brazilian groups and composed my pieces for the cuatro.

I'm now retired in the city of Orlando, but I always dream of the strings because, music is life!"


Listen to several pieces composed by Pepe Rodriguez, performed by the composer in a private recording (transferred from audio tape)
Notes by Frank Santos

music39.gif (1520 bytes)  Viernes Social  
[Friday Social]

music39.gif (1520 bytes) Raquel
"She was don Pepe's grand daughter."

music39.gif (1520 bytes)  Vals de la Novia
[The Bride's Waltz] "An inspiration he had while performing for a wedding."

music39.gif (1520 bytes)  Laura Rosa
"Laura Rosa is don Pepe's daughter."

music39.gif (1520 bytes)  Ivonne
"Ivonne is a grand daughter of don Pepe's."

music39.gif (1520 bytes)  La Durita
[The Little Hard One]"So called because it is dificult to play."

music39.gif (1520 bytes)  Carmela
"Don Pepe's mother"

music39.gif (1520 bytes)  Influencia Española
"Written in honor of Spain."

Pepe Rodriguez' compositions played by other noted musicians:

music39.gif (1520 bytes) Cuatrista Sarrail Archilla and guitarist Polo Ocasio play Pepe Rodriguez' masurca Carmela

music39.gif (1520 bytes) Now Sarriel and Polo play Pepe Rodriguez' joropo titled Marumba a Morovis. [Marumba for the town of Morovis]

music39.gif (1520 bytes) Arturito Avilés plays cuatro, with his brother Manuel on guitar play Pepe Rodriguez' danza Fiesta Boricua

Special for the Cuatro Project: 
Pepe Rodríguez compositions played for the Cuatro Project by Juan "Kacho" Montalvo and Ray Vázquez:

music39.gif (1520 bytes) An interpretation of the Pepe Rodriguez composition, Alegría, with Kacho on guitar and Ray Vázquez on cuatro

music39.gif (1520 bytes) Kacho and Ray now perform the beautiful Pepe Rodriguez composition, Carmela

More Pepe Rodriguez recordings below!



Three giants of Puerto Rican music: Pepe Rodriguez, Ramito, Ladislao Martínez at the Teatro Puerto Rico, 1954
Photo from the Pepe Rodriguez collection

Pepe Rodríguez with Los Auténticos: at his right is Arturito Avilés on cuatro; at his left, his brother Manuel Avilés on guitar.                                                                                         Photo from the Pepe Rodríguez collection

music39.gif (1520 bytes) Listen to Los Autenticos playing the Pepe Rodríguez compositions Carmela and Lisette.


Pepe Rodriguez on stage. Below, during the same performance: Left to right, Francisco López Cruz, guitar; Jaime Peña, guitar; Pepe Rodríguez, cuatro; Juan Peña, cuatro; Juan Santana, cuatro.


(Left) Sarrail Archilla, Polo Ocasio and Pepe during the 60s, (Right) Pepe around 2000 with cuatro phenom Cristian Nieves.