Francisco Aguabella (Matanzas, 1925) was an Afro-Cuban percussionist whose rhythms backed up Peggy Lee, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra and Paul Simon.
A master sacred drummer of the Santeria religion, Francisco Aguabella played in Havana's leading nightclubs in the 1950s, where he was seen by legendary dancer and choreographer Katherine Dunham.
Francisco Aguabella left Cuba to work with Dunham on the 1954 film Mambo, starring Shelley Winters, and then went on to share the stage with Lee, Gillespie, Tito Puente and others.
Francisco Aguabella often jumped genres, performing and recording with Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon, The Doors, Three Dog Night and Carlos Santana.
Francisco Aguabella was also a caring and dedicated instructor who taught Afro-Cuban drumming to undergraduate and graduate students at UCLA and was honored in the 90's with the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was featured in the 1995 documentary 'Sworn to the Drum' by Les Blank and there is also a documentary about him in production by Orestes Matacena.
Francisco Aguabella died at his home in Los Angeles on May 7, 2010 after battling cancer. He was 84.