El Manisero (The Peanut Vendor)


El Manisero (The Peanut Vendor) — music and original words by Moisés Simons

El Manisero-25 versions (1)Adapted from the Wikipedia profile:
“The Peanut Vendor” (original title: “El Manisero”) is a Cuban song based on a street-seller’s cry, and known as a pregón. It is possibly the most famous piece of music created by a Cuban musician.[1] “The Peanut Vendor” has been recorded more than 160 times,[2] sold over a million copies of the sheet music, and was the first million-selling 78rpm [record] of Cuban music.

Maní, maní, maní…
Si te quieres por el pico divertir,
Cómprame un cucuruchito de maní…

Maní, el manisero se va,
Caballero, no se vayan a dormir,
Sin comprarme un cucurucho de maní

The score and lyrics of “El Manisero” were written by Moisés Simons (1889–1945), the
Cuban son of a Basque musician.[3] It sold over a million copies of sheet music for E.B. Marks Inc., and this netted $100,000 in royalties for Simons by 1943.[4][5] Its success led to a ‘rumba craze’ in the US and Europe which lasted through the 1940s. The consequences of the Peanut Vendor’s success were quite far-reaching.

Rita Montaner con Miguel de Grandy 1The number was first sung and recorded by the vedette Rita Montaner in 1927 or 1928 for Columbia Records.[6] The biggest record sales for “El Manisero” came from the recording made by Don Azpiazú and his Havana Casino Orchestra in New York in 1930 for Victor Records. The band included a number of star musicians such as Julio Cueva (trumpet) and Mario Bauza (saxophone); Antonio Machín was the singer.[7] There seems to be no authoritative account of the number of 78rpm records of this recording sold by Victor; but it seems likely that the number would have exceeded the sheet music sales, making it the first million-selling record of Cuban (or even Latin) music.[8]

The lyrics were in a style based on street vendors’ cries, a pregón; and the rhythm was a son, so technically this was a son-pregón. On the record label, however, it was called a rhumba-fox trot, not only the wrong genre, but misspelled as well.[9] After this, the term rumba was used as a general label for Cuban music, as salsa is today, because the numerous Cuban terms were not understood abroad. Rumba was easy to say and remember.


¿Manisero o Manicero?


According to Second Hand Songs, English language versions using a lyric credited to L. Wolfe Gilbert and Marion Sunshine have been recorded numerous times since 1930. The 2 December 1930 recording by the California Ramblers, which may be the earliest to incorporate English words, uses a combination of lines in the original Spanish lyric and lines in English, alternating between them.

Listen at the following link to any of the 20 recordings on this compilation, released in 2010:

Rita Montaner 1

Rita Montaner — c.1928 (incomplete)


Trio Matamoros — 1929(?)


Don Azpiazú and his Havana Casino Orchestra — 1930



Antonio Machín

Machín recorded the song in 1930 with the Cuarteto Machín. I don’t know if this is that recording.


1960s television lip-synch performance


The California Ramblers – recorded on 2 December 1930, issued on Columbia 2351D, c/w “Twenty Swedes Ran Through the Weeds”


Louis Armstrong and his Sebastian New Cotton Club Orchestra, recorded on 23 December 1930 (Okeh 41478) Los Angeles, CA. The provider indicates that this disc is a 1936 Vocalion label re-issue of the Okeh recording.


Xavier Cugat  — 1935?


Miguelito Valdes con Orquesta Casino de la Playa — 1937



Rosita Serrano – known as the “Chilean Nightingale” — 1938

Wikipedia says,

Rosita Serrano (born Maria Martha Esther Aldunate Del Campo, 1914–1997) was a Chilean singer who had her biggest success in Nazi Germany between the 1930s and the early 1940s. Because of her bell-like voice and pitch-perfect whistling she received the nickname Chilenische Nachtigall (Chilean Nightingale).[1]


Rita Montaner in the film El romance del palmar (1938)


Perez Prado

1948 recording, available on the 2010 compilation El Manisero: 20 Original Versions / Recordings 1928 – 1958


(below) two other recordings of “El Manisero” by Perez Prado, dates unknown





Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra



(below) 1960


Chet Atkins – from The Other Chet Atkins — 1960


Stan Kenton and his Orchestra — from the 1960 LP “Viva Kenton!,” Capitol Records SW 1305


Charlie Palmieri y su Orquesta — 1962


Bola de Nieve — with piano accompaniment — 1964


CD Album: 25 versiones classicas de El Manisero

El Manisero-25 versions (1) Artist: Various Artists
Label: Tumbao Cuban Classics
Date of release: 1997
Genre: Latin
Time: 01:14:01
Total size: 170 MB

Tracks :
01. Rita Montaner – 1928
02. Trio Matamoros – 1929
03. Antonio Machin – 1930
04. Louis Armstrong – 1930
05. Sexteto Okeh – 1931
06. Imperio Argentina – 1932
07. Enric Madriguera – 1934
08. Xavier Cugat – 1935
09. Miguelito Valdes – 1937
10. Lecuona Cuban Boys – 1941
11. John Kirby – 1943
12. Stan Kenton & His Orchestra – 1947
13. Perez Prado – 1948
14. Noro Morales – 1949
15. Alfredito – 1953
16. Abelardo Barroso – 1955
17. Jerry Fielding – 1956
18. Johnny Pacheco – 1958
19. Chico O’Farrill – 1958
20. Obdulio Morales – 1959
21. Bebo Valdes – 1960
22. Pepe Delgado – 1961
23. Pete Terrace – 1962
24. Charlie Palmieri – 1962
25. Bola de Nieve – 1964


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elton J.W. Bain
    Feb 03, 2014 @ 08:40:30

    Very comprehensive and entertaining.


  2. Trackback: He’s Not a Greenhorn, He Blows a Mean Horn | VoVatia
  3. Anonymous
    Feb 13, 2016 @ 22:38:02

    Thank you for this very cool information, and a few new versions to hear and enjoy! I am organizing some faves according to key. This is just getting started, but please enjoy http://manisero-in-all-keys.blogspot.com/


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