PASSINGS: Juan Formell, Frank Budd, Walter R. Walsh

PASSINGS: Juan Formell, Frank Budd, Walter R. Walsh
Bandleader Juan Formell leads Los Van Van in a Cuban salsa music dance concert at the Palladium. (Bob Carey, Los Angeles Times)

Cuban musician Juan Formell, 71, who for more than four decades was the driving force behind the big band salsa orchestra Los Van Van, died Thursday, Cuban state television reported in Havana. The cause was not given.

Formell received a Latin Grammy in 2013 for excellence, on top of another one in 1999 recognizing the album "Llego … Los Van Van."


"My life has been entirely dedicated to music and only makes sense when people make it theirs and enjoy it," he said upon receiving the award last year.

Born Juan Climaco Formell Cortina on Aug. 2, 1942, he was a band director, bassist, composer, singer and producer over the course of his long career.

Slender and quick to smile, Formell first learned music at the feet of his father, Francisco, a flutist and pianist.

As a young man he joined various important musical groups, collaborating with Guillermo Rubalcaba, Carlos Faxas' orchestra and the Reve group in 1967, where he made significant contributions such as the use of the electric bass and keyboards.

In 1969, he created Los Van Van, which became Cuba's most famous big band orchestra and whose danceable tunes attracted a wide following on the island and overseas.

The lyrics of his songs told the social history of the island and reflected Cubans' joys and concerns, always with a sense of humor and a picaresque touch.

Formell also set poems by the poet Nicolás Guillén to music and composed scores for the theater and cinema.

Frank Budd

Former 100-yard dash world record-holder

Frank Budd, 74, an Olympic sprinter and former 100-yard dash world record-holder, died Tuesday in Marlton, N.J., of what his family said were natural causes. He had suffered from kidney ailments and multiple sclerosis.

Budd placed fifth in the 100 meters at the 1960 Olympics in Rome and also ran on the U.S. 100-meter relay team, which won preliminary rounds but was disqualified in the final after a botched baton transfer outside the passing zone. Had the result stood, it would have been a world-record relay time.

The next year, while still a student at Villanova University outside Philadelphia, Budd set world records in the 100-yard dash, the 220-yard straight and was a member of a world-record 4-by-100 relay team.

The 100-yard dash record of 9.2 seconds, which gave him the unofficial title of world's fastest man, came at a meet on New York City's Randall's Island. The record was later broken by two other Americans, Bob Hayes and then Ivory Crockett. Records in the event, which is a bit shorter than the sanctioned 100 meters, stopped being recognized internationally in 1976.

Budd also won NCAA and AAU championships in track.


A native of Asbury Park, N.J., Budd graduated from Villanova in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in economics. Despite not playing college football, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles that year and played wide receiver for one season, followed by a season with the Washington Redskins, then three for the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders. When he entered professional football, it ended Budd's international track career.

Budd later worked for the New Jersey Department of Corrections and retired in 2002.

Walter R. Walsh

FBI gangster hunter, Olympic shooter

Walter R. Walsh, 106, who captured gangsters as an FBI agent in the 1930s and went on to train Marine Corps snipers and become the longest-lived Olympian, died Tuesday at his home in Arlington, Va., after suffering a heart attack a few weeks ago, said his son Gerald.

Walsh, who first honed his shooting skills by picking clothespins off a clothesline with a BB gun as a child, began his FBI career in 1934 after graduating from Rutgers University's law school. On one day in 1935, he helped capture gangster Arthur "Doc" Barker in Chicago and fatally shot a second gangster, Russell "Rusty" Gibson.

Two years later, Walsh was in Bangor, Maine, on the trail of the Brady Gang. Tipped off that the gang planned to return to a sporting goods store to stock up on weapons, the FBI set up a stakeout. Walsh's role was to pose as a salesman, and when gang member James Dalhover went inside, Walsh arrested him. He then confronted and fatally shot a second gang member, Clarence Lee Shaffer Jr., but not before being hit in the chest and hand. Also killed in the shootout was Alfred Brady, the FBI's "Public Enemy No. 1."

During World War II, Walsh served in the Marine Corps, training snipers in North Carolina and fighting in the Pacific. In 1948 he competed in the London Olympics, placing 12th in the men's 50-meter free pistol event at age 41.

In 2013, at the age of 105 and 321 days, he set the record for longest-lived Olympian. He was also the FBI's oldest retired agent.

Walsh was born May 4, 1907, in New Jersey. He got his first rifle, a .22-caliber Mossberg, when he was about 12, according to a profile in the American Rifleman. He continued to shoot until recently, his son said.

Times wire reports