Rubén González (May 26, 1919 – December 8, 2003) was a Cuban pianist and member of the renowned group Buena Vista Social Club.  

González was born in Santa Clara, Cuba. He learned to play the piano during his high school years. He studied medicine but abandoned his studies due to financial difficulties. He began his music career by playing with groups in Las Villas, Cuba. In 1940, he moved to Havana, where he played in the charangas of Paulina Álvarez and Paulín, with Arsenio Rodríguez, Kubavana and Senén Suárez and in the big bands Siboney and Riverside. In 1943, he released his first recording, together with Arsenio Rodríguez. During the 50s, he worked in Venezuela, serving as a member of the Orquesta América, Orquesta de Enrique Jorrín and CMQ.

In the early 1960s Rubén became the pianist for the Orquesta de Enrique Jorrín, and would continue to play for him for the next 25 years. González retired in the late 1980s, but after U.S.-musician Ry Cooder heard about him in 1996 he called to meet him.  After Ry Cooder insisted on meeting him, Rubén González (who up to this point had not owned a piano in approximately 11 years) started a second career in 1996 under Ry Cooder’s wing. It was this same year when the solo album Introducing…Rubén González was recorded and released.

buena-vista-social-club-coverThe next year, Ry Cooder produced the Grammy winning Buena Vista Social Club, featuring González, Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Orlando “Cachaíto” López, Omara Portuondo, and Eliades Ochoa among other veteran Cuban musicians, most of whom had careers and foundations that went back to the famous 1950s Havana scene.

Introducing…Rubén González was recorded in the same sessions as Buena Vista Social Club, and Chanchullo was recorded and released in 2000.


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Mark Wyche

I am founder of Forgotten Gent. Formerly an eCommerce and Digital Marketing pro in the corporate arena, I am now a photographer, storyteller, aspiring race car driver and world traveler. Follow the stories about my travels.

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