Mike LaureView in iTunes
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His fusion of tight tropical rhythms with American rock & roll earned Mike Laure the title "El Rey del Trópico." Born in Jalisco in 1939, Laure grew up listening to an assortment of cross-the-border rockers; he even borrowed the name for his group, Las Cometas, from his favorite, Bill Haley's band. Laure tempered his rock & roll inclinations with Cumbia rhythms learned from Colombia's Sonora Dinamita. The fusion sparked a whole new style of music, termed chunchaca, and Laure scored many Mexican hits during the mid-'60s, including "Banda Borracha," "Rajita de Canela," and "Tiburón, Tiburón." During the early '70s, the most important facet of Laure's band, his cousin Chelo, left for a successful solo career. Despite a few more hits during the mid-'70s, Mike Laure's popularity waned by the 1980s. He was debilitated by a 1990 stroke, though he returned to live performance on a limited basis. Laure's influence stayed strong, however, among several generations of Cumbia artists, from Rigo Tovar in the '70s to Fito Olivares in the '80s to Yahari in the '90s. ~ John Bush