Tampa band fulfills 60s dream of playing in Cuba

- Dennis Pupello is a retired heart surgeon, but his heart has always been with music.

When he was a teenager in the early 1960s, attending Jefferson High in Tampa, he and some friends formed a band. They called themselves The Fabulous Rockers.

Local teens thought they were the best band anywhere.

"They had Bandstand. We had the Rockers," says Charlie Miranda, a Tampa city councilman and long-time Rockers fan. 

The band had a hit record, "Would I Still Be Loving You," and played the famous Peppermint Lounge in New York. They were on their way to stardom when the world changed before their dreams could come true.

The Return of the Rockers

"We always wanted to perform in Cuba," says Pupello. "And we were right there at the doorstep when things happened, the (Cuban) revolution, then the Vietnam war acceleration. It destroyed the band."

Hello Havannah

Decades later, in the 1990's, The Fabulous Rockers came together again and played for their fans.

"We re-found the magic from the 50s and 60s, It's like a tonic," says Pupello.

Still, there was unfinished business - an unfulfilled dream.

"We never thought it would happen. We really didn't. It was a logistical nightmare to take a band to Cuba."

Last May they finally performed in Cuba, including a gig at the famous National Hotel in Havana.

"It was a lifelong dream of theirs and that night was so special," says local film maker Lynn Marvin Dingfelder. 

Her film crew captured the performance for a documentary called "Fabulous Rockers Forever," which premiered recently on WUSF-TV. Pupello says the music will go on.

"My buddy asked me, 'When are you going to stop?' I said 'When my heart stops beating,' because I really enjoy playing."

The Fabulous Rockers are finally fulfilling their dreams. 

To see more of The Fabulous Rockers, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thefabulousrockers/

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