Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 10 January 1921, Cayo Hueso district, Havana; d 25 June 1995, NYC) Singer, bandleader; one of Latin America's most popular singers from the late '40s into the '80s with a beautiful baritone voice; influenced by his famous older brother, sonero Alfredo Valdés (1908-88; father of pianist/ arranger/ music director Alfredo Valdés Jr), another brother was percussionist Oscar Valdés. Joined Septeto Nacional c'30 (Alfredo was lead singer); sang with Orquesta de Cheo Belén Puig '35, then various conjuntos. He left Orquesta Cosmopolita to relocate successfully to Mexico '42, then to NYC '49; sang with Marcelino Guerra, then Noro Morales, became lead vocalist with Tito Puente '49-53, performing on many of Puente's classic mambos on Tico and RCA, but quit after a row about billing.
He organized his own orchestra late '53 for best-selling 78s and LPs on Seeco, many arranged by legendary René Hernández (Machito's arranger/ pianist '45-66). Teamed up with La Sonora Matancera for LP Vicentico Valdés Con La Sonora Matancera '58 on Seeco including big hit bolero 'Los Aretes de la Luna'; Valdés disapproved of Al Santiago's liner notes and stopped talking to him for a few years. Reunited with Puente on Tito Puente Swings, Vicentico Valdés Sings c'58 on Tico. Numerous future Latin luminaries passed through his orchestra during the '50s include Manny Oquendo, Charlie Palmieri, Eddie Palmieri (replaced Charlie), Louie Ramírez, Héctor Rivera '58-64 (replaced Eddie), Sonny Bravo. Worked as a solo artist after disbanding; produced Celia Cruz's El Nuevo Estilo De La Guarachera mid-'60s on Seeco; sang on Tico-Alegre All-Stars Live At Carnegie Hall '74 on Tico. Collaborated with Bobby Valentín on bolero albums Vicentico Valdés y la Orquesta Bobby Valentín '82 and En La Lejania '83 on Bronco. Participated in 65th anniversary three-concert reunion of La Sonora Matancera with 13 of its erstwhile lead vocalists (one concert a two-disc Live! From Carnegie Hall: 65th Anniversary Celebration '89 on Team); sang on Carlos 'Patato' Valdez's solo project Masterpiece '93 on Messidor (recorded in NYC '84-5). He was said to have made over 30 albums; recommended collections are Canciones Premiadas de Vicentico Valdés '94 on Polydor (compiles Seeco material) and Lo Mejor de/The Best Of Vicentico Valdés '74 (reissued '95) on Tico.