Founder member Orlando Lopez dies in Cuba aged 76

Orlando ‘Cachaito’ Lopez, the double bass player and a founder member of the Buena Vista Social Club, has died in Havana aged 76 from complications following prostrate surgery.

Lopez was said to be the “heartbeat” of the Cuban music collective brought together by guitarist and producer Ry Cooder in 1996.

“It is a great loss for the group and for Cuban music because he was a superb bassist and a brilliant band mate,” said the group’s trumpeter Manuel ‘Guajiro’ Mirabal. “He was an excellent person and the quality of his music was, honestly, unparalleled.”

Lopez was born in Havana in 1933 into a family of over 30 bass players. However, it wasn’t until Cooder put together the Buena Vista Social Club album and Wim Wender’s documentary of the same name that Lopez and his bandmates achieved international fame.

“It is an irreplaceable loss for Cuban music, he is the last remaining member of the bass playing dynasty,” said band mate Amado Valdes.

Lopez’s death has been another blow to Buena Vista Social Club – Compay Segundo, Rubin Gonzales, Pio Leyva and singer Ibrahim Ferrer have all passed away in recent years.

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Pic credit: PA Photos