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The unveiling of the plaque was attended by Chucho Valdés. SUR
Bebo Valdés: Benalmádena's link to Cuban jazz
Foreign influencers in southern Spain

Bebo Valdés: Benalmádena's link to Cuban jazz

A central figure in the golden age of Cuban music, he retired to Arroyo de la Miel in 2005, where he lived until shortly before his death in 2013

Tony Bryant

Benalmádena

Friday, 5 July 2024, 15:11

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Those passing along Calle Topacio in Arroyo de la Miel (Benalmádena) might wonder why a roundabout has a plaque in honour of a world-renowned Cuban jazz pianist who died in Sweden in 2013. Dionisio Ramón Emilio Valdés Amaro, known to the world as Bebo Valdés, was honoured by the town's council shortly after his death because the bandleader, composer and arranger had retired to the town in 2005 following a 70-year musical career.

A central figure in Cuba's jazz scene, Valdés was forced into exile in 1960 due to his stances against the Castro regime. Following the revolution in Cuba, a country to which he never returned, the celebrated musician lived in Mexico and the USA, until settling in Stockholm. He spent the next 30 years performing in small clubs in Sweden, before returning to stages around the world in the 1990s.

He arrived in Benalmádena with his wife, Rose-Marie Perhson (who died in 2012), but, instead of retiring, he continued to perform and record.

Shortly before his death, he was taken back to Sweden by his children to have treatment for Alzheimer's.

The monument in Arroyo de la Miel, which was erected to honour his connection to, and love of, Benalmádena, is located close to where he lived. The ceremony was attended by Bebo's son, Chucho Valdés, a revered Afro-Cuban jazz pianist and bandleader who also lives in Benalmádena.

The council at that time said that Bebo was the town's most "internationally recognised resident" and someone who took "the name of Benalmádena to wherever his music and piano have travelled".

During his years in Benalmádena, Bebo struck up a bond with Cudeca, supporting the charity wholeheartedly.

Following his death, the charity issued a statement which said, "Bebo Valdés was a renowned figure of great importance, since he was a pioneer in holding charity concerts in solidarity with our cause".

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