Jose Rodriguez’s musical inclination surfaced early on in life.
As a young boy in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, Rodriguez would piece together wood and cords to create his own instruments. He first learned to play the Puerto Rican cuatro and later graduated to guitars.
At home, he loved listening to music, including that of Los Panchos, a trio known for their romantic ballads and boleros. At school, the guitar was his greatest companion.
According to Rodriguez, neighbors told his father that he would become a musician someday.
“Papi would tell them ‘You think? You think?’… ‘But listen to him!'” Rodriguez said.
The 74-year-old sat with crinkled eyes inside Orlando Latin Market, laughter erupting from his lips as he recalled his childhood.
(LISTEN: Rodriguez speaks in Spanish about learning to play the guitar in the below audio clip)
He’d observe older guitarists performing, watch closely how they positioned their hands on the instrument — where they placed their fingers.
Rodriguez lifted his hands, positioning them as if he were playing the guitar. He said he still plays, but not much. When he does, Rodriguez said it reminds him of those early years.
“I feel happy still,” Rodriguez said. “Thank God that He still gives us the energy and happiness to continue.”
(LISTEN: Rodriguez speaks in Spanish about the difficulties he experienced when learning to play the guitar in the below audio clip)