Cuban musician Juan Formell, founder and director for more than four decades of the legendary orchestra Los Van Van, died today, Cuban television has just reported. He was 71.
Director, bass player, arranger, composer, singer, and record producer, Formell was born in Havana on August 2 1942.
He trained as a musician with his father, Francisco Formell, a flutist, pianist and arranger. He was guided as composer and guitar player by highly regarded Cuban musicians Félix Guerrero, Rafael Somavilla, Armando Romeu, Antonio Taño and Orestes Urfé.
Recently, in November 2013, Formel received a Latin Grammy for Excellence. Receiving his award was problematic given the Cuban Embargo and the difficulties it presents to Cuban artists seeking to record with US companies.
Juan Formell y los Van Van received the 1999 Grammy for Llegó… Van Van (Van Van está aquí) and they enjoyed multiple nominations.