May 19, 2008

Ricky Ricardo: The 'Mr. Babalu' Next Door

Listen to the National Public Radio special tribute to Desi Arnaz.

When I Love Lucy appeared in 1951, mainstream America knew very little about Latino culture.

Ricky Ricardo changed all that: His heavily accented English — and his rapid-fire Spanish — were as new to some parts of the country as TV itself.

And then there was the music. Ricky Ricardo may have been a fictional character, but he played very real music.

I've been playing congas for 35 years, and I can't tell you the number of times people have come up to my drums, unable to resist trying out a drumroll and crooning the opening phrase of Ricky's signature "Babalu."

Of course like everything else about him, Ricky Ricardo's version of "Babalu" was a mix of fact and fiction.

Read more from this special tribute to Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo.

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