Pepe Jaramillo

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Pepe, @1970

Pepe Jaramillo (born José Jaramillo García; October 27, 1921, Lerdo - April 30, 2001, Andalucia) was a notable Mexican pianist, composer, arranger, and recording artist. He was most active in London as an EMI recording artist in the 1960s and 1970s. Born in Lerdo, Durango, he began his professional music career playing in night clubs in México City. Relocating to London in the late 1950s, his many recordings and world-wide concert appearances brought him international fame. He died in his sleep of anemia at his villa in Spain.[1] (On the internet, his activity has often been confused with the Ecuadorean singer of the same name.)


Early life and career in Mexico[edit]

Both of Pepe's parents were originally from the state of Chihuahua, but they moved to Lerdo, Durango in 1908. Pepe's father was Vicente Baca Jaramillo, and his mother was Doña Enriqueta García. Pepe had a sister and three brothers. His sister's piano playing inspired the four-year-old Pepe to teach himself to play the piano by ear. His family arranged for private lessons with a local teacher, and Pepe later continued his private lessons with a Director of the Méxican Conservatory of Music. In spite of his musical gifts, his family urged him to prepare for a success in a more stable profession. After studying dentistry for a frustrating two years, Pepe completed his higher education at the Milton Business Academy in México City, and he also devoted himself to learning English, French, Portuguese and Italian.[1] Pepe then worked for several years for a British mining company in the state of Chihuahua. While visiting the bar at the fashionable Ritz hotel in México City, Pepe played their piano for the amusement of his friends and, consequently, was offered a job performing in the hotel's night club. This was the beginning of Pepe's lifelong career as a musician who specialized in Latin American rhythms (rumba, bolero, cha cha, samba, etc.) [2]

Mexican Recording Artist, Pepe Jaramillo

After a successful three-year stint at the Ritz, Pepe was next employed by friends who had built the "Quid Grill" restaurant and bar. Hollywood friends of the owners were successful in introducing Pepe to radio and television in México City, and he also became highly in demand as an accompanist for visiting singers.[1][3] "(He has worked with a great many of the most famous Latin-American and Spanish artists.)"[2]

As the result of a 1957 visit to Paris with his cousin (who was employed at the Méxican embassy), Pepe Jaramillo fell in love with Europe, decided to settle there, and soon moved to London. He appeared on a radio series with the BBC called "Stairway to the Stars." After hearing an appeal on TV for new artists, Pepe sent a sample of some of his Méxican releases to Norman Newell. Shortly thereafter his 20-year history (1959–1979) as an EMI recording artist was launched.[3]

International fame and concert appearances[edit]

Pepe Jaramillo in concert

As a seasoned professional performer in Mexico, at age 38 Pepe Jaramillo was well prepared to move to the international stage. Through his nightclub and theater performances in some of the world's major cities, he became known as the "Ambassador of México." His performance venues in the Americas included Los Angeles, Harlem, New York City, Miami, Colombia, and Buenos Aires (at Teatro Colón). European performances included (of course) London, Paris (at the Louvre), Madrid at (Plaza Mayor), Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Yugoslavia. During a world tour he performed in many theaters across Japan, (recording several releases there), and also performed in Tangier, Hong Kong (at the Mandarin Hotel), Thailand, and China. During his concert tour in Australia and New Zealand, he also performed with The Seekers. By popular demand, Pepe visited Durban (the Hotel Edward) and Johannesburg (the Dawson Hotel) for three tours of South Africa.[1][3]

In London, Pepe gave a private performance for the family of the Duchess of Kent. "Also during a visit to London of [the] former President of México, Luis Echeverría, [Pepe was] invited to play at the reception hosted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family.."[1]

Pepe Jaramillo rose to musical prominence during the mid 20th-Century's world-wide interest in Ballroom and Latin American dancing. In 1966, music critic Nigel Hunter explained Pepe Paramillo's appeal thusly: "A large part of Pepe's popularity and achievement undoubtedly lies in the utterly unpretentious simplicity of his style...[His approach] has been vindicated again and again by the impressive sales of his records, and the triumphs of his appearances...Being Mexican, Pepe has the Latin touch innately."[4] Not to be overlooked is the fact that Pepe Jaramillo expanded his repertoire from traditional Latin American songs to one which included Broadway show tunes, music from movie soundtracks, and other popular songs of the day (all arranged to reflect authentic Latin American rhythms). In regard to the popularity of Pepe's authentic dance rhythms among dancers, "Peggy Spencer, the well known British dance teacher and formation team coach, [said] 'You haven't lived if you haven't danced to Pepe Jaramillo.'"[5]

Personal life and recognition[edit]

When he was not working or staying in London, Pepe Jaramillo spent his free time at his villa Las higueras (The Fig Trees) on the Costa del Sol in Spain. He enjoyed swimming, tennis, and painting.[3] Pepe's generous charitable benefits and sponsorships included organizations in his homeland like the Red Cross and the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.[1]

José Jaramillo García was recognized in September 1991 by Lerdo as "Distinguished Citizen." In November 1996, Pepe made another[6] return visit to his hometown, gave several concerts, and donated a piano to the local Casa de la Cultura.[1]


On April 30, 2001, Pepe Jaramillo died of anemia during sleep at his residence located near the town of Mijas, Malaga province in (Andalusia) Spain. His ashes were returned to his family in Mexico.[1]


Pepe Jaramillo's biographer, José Jesús Vargas Garza,[7] states that Pepe Jaramillo recorded more than 30 LPs, mostly in the UK, but several in Japan, Colombia, and one [new release] in Mexico for Columbia Records...and that the EMI family of labels distributed his music worldwide.[1] The following discography attempts to be complete and includes his LPs, 45rpm Singles and EPs, and the newer CD releases that feed the continued demand for his music. The first LP section lists seven known albums recorded and released in México by Columbia Records at unknown dates, but certainly previous to 1957. The next LP section chronicles Pepe Jaramillo's history with the EMI family of labels. Pepe Jaramillo is the primary artist with three exceptions, which are noted.

Because all of his recordings "contain only authentic Latin rhythms, they became popular for both listening and dancing,"[5] and he frequently recorded under variations of the name "Pepe Jaramillo & His Latin American Rhythms." Geoff Love was long associated with Pepe, and was the most frequent director of the musical accompaniment for Pepe's piano artistry. Geoff Love also arranged many of Pepe's recorded songs. There was a long association with Norman Newell, as the producer for Pepe Jaramillo's releases. With a few exceptions (in Japan and possibly Australia), all of Pepe's releases were recorded in the UK. Pepe Jaramillo composed a number of the songs he recorded on his many releases.

Studio albums (LP) México[edit]

Studio albums (LP) EMI[edit]

With a few exceptions, Pepe Jaramillo recorded in the UK with EMI's Parlophone label from 1959–1965. EMI then featured its Columbia Label with the "Studio 2 Stereo" series from 1966–1972. From 1973–1979 Pepe's releases used the EMI label, still featuring the "Studio 2 Stereo" series. Releases in several countries featured the EMI Odeon label. Eighteen of Pepe Jaramillo's LPs were also released in Australia.[10] In addition to the two Japanese LP recordings listed below, three of his UK releases were also published in Japan. At least nine compilation albums (two CDs) have been published in Japan.[11]

Compilation albums (LP)[edit]

Nine albums of Pepe Jaramillo's songs have been released on LP in Japan. No release dates are available... possibly due to translation problems.

Compilation albums (CD)[edit]

Although several CDs were released during Pepe's lifetime, all of the albums in this section are composed of previously recorded tracks. One 2011 release is digital version of 1959 EP.

  • 1988 – Best Now, EMI, CP32-9038, CD, Japan
  • 1997 – Shoji Yokoughi,[23] Pepe Jaramillo, & Claude Ciari – Mr Guitar & Friends, by WRD Music, WRCD-5019, UK (CD)[24]
  • 1999 – Mexican Tijuana / Mexican Gold, EMI Digital/Parlaphone, CD #0724349613557, UK[25]
  • 2001 – Pepe Jaramillo, EMI, The CD Club #0467900101S, Japan
  • 2006 – Moonlight in Mexico / Pepe Meets Manuel, EMI Vocation, CD #4036, UK[26]
  • 2011 – Cafe Bolero, Vintage Music No. 286, CD[27]
  • 2011 – Latin American Rhythm, Vintage Music, CD (mis-spelled "Rithm" in ads)[28]
  • 2011 – Majia Mexicana, Vintage Music No.146, CD[29]
  • 2011 – Mexico Tropical, Vintage Music No.141, CD (from EP)[30]
  • 2012 – Salud Pepe, Jasmine Music, CD #604988019322 [31]
  • 2012 – Holidays in Italy, Vintage Music, CD (same track listing as Mexican Pizza)
  • 2014 – The Latin Piano, Vintage Music, CD[32]
  • 2014 – Al sur de la frontera, Fonotron-Efen Records, CD EFE-1330, Spain (Not a compilation. Re-mastered and re-released edition of 1960 LP, South of the Border.)
  • 2014 – Latin World: Piano & Coffee, Vintage Music, CD[33]

Singles (45rpm)[edit]

  • 1960 – "Fruit Salad" / "Ring Ding" – Parlophone R-4666, UK
  • 1962 – "Maria" / "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" – Parlophone R-4965, UK
  • 1962 – "Adios" / "Sway" – Odeon 0-22-125, Germany
  • 1964 – "The Little Sparrow of Paris" / "The Love of My Life" – Parlophone R-5196, UK / and Parlophone R-5196, India
  • 1968 – "Mexico, Mexico, Mexico" / "Mexican Champagne" – Columbia DB-8467, UK
  •  ???? – "Hernando's Hideaway" / "Hey There" – Odeon 006-04183, France

Extended Play (EP)[edit]

The first release listed here was noted by Pepe Jaramillo's biographer as his "very first" recording. Certainly Mexico, prior to 1957, and possibly Disco Columbia de México.

  • 195? – "Calla Tristeza" / "Incertidumbre" / "Dime" / "Sueño" – Unknown Label, México
  • 1959 – Mexico Tropical, Odeon DSOE-16.305, Spain (from 1959 LP)
  • 1960 – Majia Mexicana, Odeon DSOE 16.346, Spain[34]
  • 1962 – Mexico Tropicale, Parlophone EPEG-1001, India (from 1959 LP)
  • 1962 – Latin American Cha Cha Cha, Parlophone GEP-8867, UK
  • 1963 – Latin American Cha Cha Cha, Parlophone GEPO-8867, Australia
  • 1963 – Latin American Rhythms, Parlophone GEP-8881, UK
  • 1964 – Latin American Rhythms, Parlophone GEPO-8881, Australia
  • 1964 – Pepe in Italy, Parlophone GEP-8919, UK / and Parlophone GEPO-8919, Australia
  • 1964 – Latin American Beguines, Parlophone GEP-8896, UK / and Parlophone GEPO-8896, Australia
  • 1965 – The Latin World of Pepe Jaramillo, Parlophone GEP-8944, UK / and Parlophone GEPO-8944, Australia
  • 1965 – The Mexican Way, Parlophone, UK
  • 1968 – Mexican Pizza, Odeon OP-4001, Japan
  • 1983 – Rumbas / Cha Cha Chas, International Dance Teachers Association IDTA-59, UK
  • 1983 – Sambas / Rumbas, International Dance Teachers Association IDTA-60, UK
  • 1983 – Cha Cha Chas, International Dance Teachers Association IDTA-61, UK
  • 1983 – Rumbas / Cha Cha Chas, International Dance Teachers Association IDTA-62, UK

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Garza, José Jesús Vargas (October 20, 2013), "José (Pepe) Jaramillo García, a lerdense the world," El Siglo de Torreón, Comarca Lagunera (English translation of Spanish text)
  2. ^ a b Pepe Jaramillo, "South of the Border," Axis Records, 1960, LP, Liner Notes
  3. ^ a b c d Castle, Charles (1965), "Pepe at the Movies," Parlophone, LP, Liner Notes
  4. ^ Hunter, Nigel (1966), "Carnival in Mexico," Columbia, LP, Liner Notes
  5. ^ a b Pepe Jaramillo, "Tequila Cocktail," Telemark Dance Records, 1971, LP, Liner Notes
  6. ^ Mayer-Serra, Otto (June 5, 1961), "Mexico." Billboard, New York
  7. ^ José Jesús Vargas Garza, historian and chronicler for the city of Lerdo, Durango
  8. ^ a b c d e Pepe Jaramillo releases on
  9. ^ a b c Pepe Jaramillo releases @
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Selected Australian Releases 1953–1984
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Pepe Jaramillo in Japan at
  12. ^ a b Canadian Capitol Releases
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Studio 2 Albums 1966-Early 1970s
  14. ^ TaiShen Label on Discogs
  15. ^ "Piano Latin Rhythm" at
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Sudamericana" for sale on
  18. ^ "Mexicana" at
  19. ^ "Panamericana" for sale on
  20. ^ Pepe Jaramillo release on
  21. ^ Pepe Jaramillo release in Japan
  22. ^
  23. ^ Shoji Yokoughi at
  24. ^ Music for Dancers at WRD Music
  25. ^ 1999 CD at
  26. ^ 2005 CD at
  27. ^ Cafe Bolero CD on
  28. ^ Latin American Rhythm CD on
  29. ^ Majia Mexicana CD on
  30. ^ Mexico Tropical (EP) as CD on
  31. ^ Salud Pepe CD on
  32. ^ The Latin Piano CD on
  33. ^ Piano & Coffee CD on
  34. ^ Pepe Jaramillo releases on WorldCat

External links[edit]