Cuban-born percussionist Armando Peraza, who was a member of Santana from 1972 to about 1990, died this past Monday, April 14, at a hospital in South San Francisco, California. The musician’ wife, Josephine, told the Los Angeles Times that his cause of death was pneumonia, although he also had fought a long battle with diabetes. Peraza was believed to be 89, although he didn’t know his exact birth date.
Armando joined Santana for the recording of the band’s fourth studio album, Caravanserai, and appeared on most of the group’s releases through 1990’s Spirits Dancing in the Flesh. He retired from Santana when his diabetes made it difficult for him to tour.
Peraza was born in Havana and was orphaned when he was a child. By the time he was a teenager, he was living on the streets, and eventually taught himself to play percussion instruments such as the conga and bongo drums. While in Cuba, he played alongside renowned Latin percussionist Mongo Santamaria. In the late 1940s, he came to New York City, and soon began performing with a variety of respected jazz artists. Over the years, he would perform and/or record with such legends as George Shearing, Charlie Parker, Buddy Rich, Dave Brubeck, Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus, Cal Tjader and Chick Corea.
In addition to Santana, Peraza also worked with a number of other pop, rock and R&B musicians, including Eric Clapton, Linda Rontadt and Rick James. After leaving Santana, he continued to play on various recordings and at occasional concerts.
Carlos Santana has penned a tribute to Armando that he posted on his official website. The homage reads, “My greatest teacher/mentor/role model crossed over the other side tonight. He is now light only…no more in the body. He is free from gravity and time. Immortality is his playground. Infinity is his domain. Thank you for all and everything, Dearest Armando Peraza. Be with GOD and the angels Dear one. Peace.”
Besides his wife, Peraza is survived by a daughter and three grandchildren.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio