Full Name: Francesc dAsís Xavier Cugat Mingall de Bru i Deulofeu

Description: Violinist, Cuba
Known For: Known for the tune – “Perfidia” – Hit Tune 1940

Instruments: Violin

Music Styles: Latin Music

Location: Spain

Date Born: 1st January 1900

Location Born: Girona, Spain

Date Died: 27th October 1990
Location Died: Catalonia, Spain
Cause Of Death: Heart Failure

Memorial: Cugat died of heart failure at age 90 in Barcelona in his native Catalonia, Spain.

Web Site: Xavier Cugat webpage

Other Links: See below:


Xavier Cugat

A Spanish-American bandleader who spent his formative years in Havana, Cuba. A trained violinist and arranger, he was a key personality in the spread of Latin music in United States popular music. He was also a cartoonist and a successful businessman[citation needed]. In New York, his was the leader of the resident orchestra at the Waldorf-Astoria before and after World War II.

Cugat was born as Francesc d’Asís Xavier Cugat Mingall de Bru i Deulofeu in Girona, Spain.

His family emigrated to Cuba when Xavier was five. He was trained as a classical violinist and played with the Orchestra of the Teatro Nacional in Havana. On 6 July 1915, Cugat and his family arrived in New York as immigrant passengers on board the S.S. Havana.

Cugat was married five times. His first marriage was to Rita Montaner (1918–1920) ; this contradicts all authoritative biographical accounts of her[citation needed]; his second was to Carmen Castillo (1929–1944); his third to Lorraine Allen (1947–52); his fourth to singer Abbe Lane (1952–64); and his fifth to Spanish guitarist and comic actress Charo (1966–78). His last marriage was the first in Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip.

Entering the world of show business, he played with a band called The Gigolos during the tango craze.

Later, he went to work for the Los Angeles Times as a cartoonist. Cugat’s caricatures were later nationally syndicated. His older brother, Francis, was an artist of some note, having painted the famous cover art for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby.

In the late 1920s, as sound began to be used in films, he put together another tango band that had some success in early short musical films. By the early 1930s, he began appearing with his group in feature films.

He took his band to New York for the 1931 opening of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and he eventually replaced Jack Denny as the leader of the hotel’s resident band. One of his trademarks was to hold a Chihuahua while he waved his baton with the other arm.

For 16 years Cugat helmed the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s orchestra. He shuttled between New York and Los Angeles for most of the next 30 years, alternating hotel and radio dates with movie appearances in You Were Never Lovelier (1942), Bathing Beauty (1944), Week-End at the Waldorf (1945), On an Island with You (1948), and Neptune’s Daughter (1949), among others.

Cugat recorded on Columbia Records (1940s and 1950s, also Columbia’s Epic label), RCA Victor (1930s and 1950s), Mercury Records (1951–1952 and 1960s) and Decca Records (1960s). Dinah Shore made her first recordings as a vocalist with Cugat in 1939 and 1940 (Victor Records).

In 1940, his recording of “Perfidia” became a big hit. Cugat followed trends closely, making records for the conga, the mambo, the cha-cha-cha, and the twist when each was in fashion. Several of the songs he recorded, including “Perfidia”, were used in the Wong Kar-wai films Days of Being Wild and 2046. In 1943, “Brazil” was a big hit, reaching No. 17 in the Billboard Top 100.

Cugat died of heart failure, at the age of 90, in Barcelona and was buried in his native Girona.

Partial discography

The Greatest RCA Sides (RCA Victor, ca. 1940s, 1950s; 2000 compilation)
Bread, Love and Cha Cha Cha (Columbia, ca. 1957)
The King Plays Some Aces (RCA Victor, 1958)
Cugi’s Cocktails (Mercury, 1963)
Xavier Cugat & his orchestra — Personnel: Robert Jones, George Lopez, Richard Hoffman, Frank Berardi (tp), Joseph Gutierrez (tb), Henry Greher (frh), Gene Lorello, Luis Castellanos, John Haluko, Robert De Joseph, James English (sax), Rafael Angelo (p), Manuel Paxtot (b), Isabello Marerro (dm), Oswaldo Oliveira (timb), Otto Garcia (maracas), Otto Bolivar (bgo), Glenn E. Brown (marimba) (Glenn Brown is the father of Steve Brown) – New-York, June 20, 1951 – CO 45849 / Columbia CL 6213 2’50 he used a wooden guiro at times.


  1. ^ Jump up to: a b Xavier Cugat/IMDb
  2. ^ Jump up to: a b http://www.xaviercugat.com
  3. Jump up ^ LegacyRecordings.com
  4. Jump up ^ Tate, Mary Jo (2007). Critical companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald: a literary reference to his life and work

    . Infobase Publishing. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-8160-6433-5.

  5. Jump up ^ Powell, Jane (1988). The Girl Next Door…and How She Grew (1st ed.). p. 112. ISBN 0-688-06757-3.
  6. Xavier Cugat webpage
  7. Personal papers of Xavier Cugat in Biblioteca de Catalunya