In Memoriam: Latin Bass Legend Sal Cuevas


A brief obituary by Kevin Johnson for No Treble.

More sad news to report today: latin bass legend Salvador “Sal” Cuevas has passed away. He was 61 years old.

Cuevas was born and raised in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, as such identifying himself as a “Newyorican”. The city’s musical and cultural blend was a big influence on his musical start in middle school. “Being from New York you are exposed to not only the Latin part of music, you are also exposed to Rhythm and Blues, Punk, and also Jazz, so I started playing all of that stuff when I went to Junior High school,” he told ProjectNYE. “I spoke to my teacher and he said ‘why don’t you play the bass?’”

Cuevas quickly rose to be one of the most in-demand bassists in latin music. He was a member of the Fania All-Stars from 1978 to 1985 and played for a who’s who of salsa, jazz, and pop including Willie Colón, Rubén Blades, Héctor Lavoe, Ray Barretto, Tito Puente, Machito, Celia Cruz, Larry Harlow, Ismael Miranda, Eddie Palmieri, Gloria Estefan, the Black Eyed Peas, and more. Cuevas was also a top-call bassist in the lucrative jingle scene of the ’70s and ’80s. He’s often credited as an innovator of Salsa music by incorporating new techniques into his bass playing.

Many remembrances were shared on Facebook by members of the music community. “I’m at a loss for words right now, all I can get out at this moment is that I’m eternally grateful for all you did for the music and your friendship,” Ruben Rodriguez wrote. “I will miss you.”

“RIP Sal Cuevas. When I started my shop in 1979, Sal was THE guy in NYC for latin music,” Roger Sadowsky posted. “This photo was taken in December 1982 with a PJ 4 string (#143) I made for Sal. 1982 was the year I began making bass guitars. I only have the most wonderful memories of Sal.

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