b. 19 April 1905, Santiago, Cuba, d. 26 December, 1976, Mexico City, Mexico. Mercerón studied music as a young man and in the early 30s led a dance band at hotels and clubs. Playing tenor saxophone and clarinet, his repertoire included local variations on jazz forms that were trickling in from the USA. He became very popular and although he reverted to Cuban music as his base and soon established a considerable presence in Havana. With his band, the Muchachos Pimienta, he recorded from 1941, sometimes in his own name and other times backing established singers. His repertoire included guarachas, sones, boleros and rumbas. In 1946 he folded his band in Cuba and relocated to Mexico City where he was soon in demand. In the late 40s he often played and recorded with artists such as Beny Moré. At the end of the decade he returned to Cuba and Moré joined him there and more record dates ensued. Among other singers with whom he worked were Pacho Alonso and Fernando Alvarez. At the end of the 50s, Mercerón went back to Mexico, formed a new band, and remained a significant presence there for the rest of his life.
Mercerón was noted for his performance of danzon, a highly rhythmic form of popular music that is one of the roots of better-known Latin forms such as mambo and cha cha cha. So dominant was Mercerón in the form that he became known by the soubriquet El Emperador del Danzon. Among songs he performed and recorded are ‘Florecita’, ‘Amor Perdido’, ‘Te Necesito’, ‘El Que Sabe Sabe’, ‘Sabor De Engaño’, ‘Me Extraña’, ‘A Las Alturas Del Simpson’, ‘El Cadete Constitutional’, ‘El Bombin De Barreto’, ‘Arriba Mi Cuate’ and ‘La Margarita’, his 1959 recording of which became a huge hit throughout Latin America.