Multi-percussionist and Grammy winner Raphael Cruz was born on May 27th, 1947, in the Dominican Republic, in the town of Villa Vasque, located in the northeastern province of Monte Cristi. His parents arrived there from Cuba, later settling in Santiago de los Caballeros. While he was still very young, they moved to the capital city of Santo Domingo, where he initiated his grade school education in the "Escuela Chile".
Young Raphael had always been drawn to music, so when the opportunity came along, he joined the school's marching band, initially playing the snare drum, then the bass drum and finally mastering the xylophone. From there he graduated to the "Colegio Don Bosco", where he continued his musical studies. He also played in that school's marching band, while studying both theory and solfeggio, acquiring the necessary reading skills and technique that were needed in order to become a classical musician. By the time he graduated Don Bosco he had also mastered orchestral percussion. Although this curriculum did not usually include drum set studies, he mastered that instrument as well. Raphael was quite proficient on all of the percussion instruments, but it was his interest in hand drums that began taking him down a different road.
During the so-called "British Invasion" Raphael submerged himself deep into the waters of popular American music. He was particularly fond of rock 'n' roll. Eventually he formed his own group, which he called "Los X 6". It turned out to be an invaluable learning experience for him. This band was greatly influenced by iconic American rock and pop artists like Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Beach Boys, Chubby Checker and even Bill Haley & the Comets.
They played at numerous social events, and were even featured regularly on Dominican television, via "Teenager's Matinee," a show that aired every Sunday. The group kept getting tighter, until they had memorized just about every rock & roll tune known to mankind. They were the official "house band" for this very popular show, which ran consecutively for a number of years.