Rubén González Biography

Pianist (1919–2003)
Rubén González was an acclaimed Afro-Cuban pianist and Buena Vista Social Club member who released his debut album as a lead player at the age of 78.


Born on May 26, 1919 in Encrucijada, Cuba, jazz pianist Rubén González played with Enrique Jorrín’s band for many years before retiring in the 1980s. González then returned to music as a featured member of the Buena Vista Social Club, performing in a documentary and album of the same name. He released his own albums Introducing… Ruben Gonzalez in 1997 and Chanchullo in 2000. González died on December 8, 2003, in Havana, Cuba.

Early Career

Musician and pianist Rubén González was born on May 26, 1919, in Santa Clara, Cuba. After studying medicine, González decided to pursue music as a career. In the 1940s, he played with Arsenio Rodriguez and the Orquesta de la Hermanes. González later joined the band of another influential musician, Enrique Jorrin, in the early 1960s. He stayed with the band until Jorrin's death in 1987. A few years later, González had all but retired.

Afro-Cuban All Stars and Buena Vista Social Club

Known for skill at fusing jazz and Latin music and for his improvisational talents, González was coaxed back to work by Juan de Marcos González. Juan de Marcos González was at work on two music projects, which turned into the Afro-Cuban All Stars and the Buena Vista Social Club. Involved in both ensembles, Rubén González found himself enjoying a career renaissance.

The Afro-Cuban All Stars were a big band led by Juan de Marcos González, which played all kinds of Latin dance music. Their first album A Todo Cuba De Gusta(1997) was recorded around the same time as Buena Vista Social Club, another ensemble. The resulting album Buena Vista Social Club (1997) focused on traditional Cuban music. The record became a huge success and won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Performance. The album raised the profile of Cuban music around the world.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!