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Los Zafiros


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Los Zafiros (The Sapphires) were a Cuban close-harmony vocal group working from 1961–1970. The group was part of the filín (feeling) movement, inspired by American doo-wop groups such as The Platters. Their music was a fusion of Cuban genres, such as the bolero, with doo-wop, ballads, R&B, calypso, Bossa Nova and rock.

Los Zafiros were formed in Cayo Hueso, Havana in 1961, by Néstor Milí Bustillo, with the members:

* Leoncio Morúa (Kike)
* Miguel Cancio (Miguelito)
* Ignacio Elejalde, a counter-tenor, in high register.

* Eduardo Elio Hernández (El Chino)
* Néstor Milí Bustillo, musical director and guitar.

* later, Manuel Galbán (guitar) became musical director, and at times Oscar Aguirre (guitar) substituted.
* In 1987 another group formed as Los Nuevos Zafiros.

The group was highly successful from the start, with high record sales and popular tours at home and abroad. However, some members of the group were self-destructive and undisciplined, with heavy drinking and other activities. Two died young: Ignacio died in 1981 at the age of 37 from a brain hemorrhage. Kike died in 1983 from cirrhosis of the liver. El Chino, beset by vision, speech and drinking problems, lived alone in Cayo Hueso until his death on 8 August 1995 at age 56. Today only two members are alive, Manuel Galban and Miguel Cancio. Cancio lives in Miami,

Manuel Galbán and his wife still live in the same house in Havana as in the heyday of Los Zafiros. He is still active on the Cuban music scene through his work in The Buena Vista Social Club and as a recording artist for World Circuit records.


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