Influential singer and percussionist Eugenio Arango “Totico” died Friday, January 21st in New York. He was a well known vocalist, who recorded Patato y Totico, a seminal Cuban rumba album in 1967, together with his boyhood friend Carlos ‘Patato’ Valdes.
Totico was a legend and well known as a rumbero, and individual that had the knowledge and ability to play, sing and dance the Cuban rumba rhythms of guaguancó, yambú and rumba columbia. Totico was also an akpuón, a lead singer for Afro-Cuban santeria ceremonies.
Totico was know for his quinto conga drumming style and his rumba singing. Totico recorded a legendary album that is a classic for all rumberos and drummers with the famed conga player/dancer Carlos “Patato” Valdes entitled Patato and Totico. Patato y Totico featured percussionist Carlos “Patato” Valdés on congas and Eugenio “Totico” Arango on vocals and congas, together with the legendary blind tresero (tres guitarist) Arsenio Rodriguez and the late Israel “Cachao” Lopez on bass. Originally released in 1967, Verve Records reissued it on CD in 2004.
Totico was born in Havana, in the Los Sitios barrio (district). After moving to the United States he performed and recorded with artists such as Israel “Cachao” López, Francisco “Kako” Bastar, Carlos “Patato” Valdés and Alfredo Rodríguez.
Totico also appeared on the classic jazz record Max Roach "Percussion Bittersweet" 1961.