Puerto Rican singer Daniel "El Jefe” Santos was discovered at 15 when he was overheard singing in the shared bathroom of his tenement in NYC. His soulful voice and unique sense of phrasing brought him gigs with Cuarteto Flores and later, La Sonora Matancera in Cuba. With his seductive voice, suave good looks, and charismatic presence, Santos was a ladies’ man who had 12 wives and 12 children. He was as famous for his partying and womanizing as he was for his gorgeous voice and Elvis-like magnetism, in fact a riot broke out at a concert in Ecuador after it was announced that he had lost his voice and had to cancel the engagement.
Legend has it that Santos’ singing style developed as a result of an emotional recording session for “Despedida” by Pedro Flores. The song was about an army recruit saying goodbye to his girlfriend and sick mother. Recently drafted himself and dreading his service, Santos was holding back tears while recording the song. A friend mocked him, so to spite him, Santos chopped his lyrics syllable by syllable and overly stretched the last vowel in every verse. This became his signature singing style.