By Lisa Petrillo

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was standing room only recently at Books and Books in Bal Harbour Shops as CB4’s Lisa Petrillo had the honor of interviewing five-time Grammy winner, and legendary music producer, Rudy Perez in front of his fans about his new book “The Latin Hit Maker.“

“I have so many stories and so many behind the scenes things that I can tell that maybe it will encourage, motivate or simply inspire them, that’s the reason I wrote this,” said Perez.

He and his family came to Miami from Cuba when Perez was just a small child on the last freedom flight. His dad was a pastor.

“That was 1968 and we almost didn’t make it because my father was in prison for being an anti-communist and luckily we were able to leave,” he explained.

Like many refugees, Perez said they came to Miami with nothing.

“I thank my parents for poverty, I truly do,” he said. “Because actually it gave me so much drive to go out and get it. I think a lot of kids today have so much they don’t know what to do and how to get anything.”

Music was his passion and he soon began playing with a local hit band called Pearly Queen. It was during this time that he learned he had the talent to write and produce music. The first star he produced was Latin guitarist and singer Jose Feliciano. Soon after he was working with some of the biggest stars in the business, recording out of his Miami Beach home studio.

“I got to work with Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, with a lot of legendary artists. I’m just blessed, Lisa,” he said.

Let’s not forget Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias, Michael Bolton, and the list goes on.

“Natalie Cole was one of the ones that I really loved. I did her very last album with her before she passed away. I miss that girl so much,” he said.

Then there was the time he worked with Beyonce. Perez said just before she arrived, a sewage line broke in the walls of the house and it stunk.

“We started lighting up candles, she didn’t notice because of the smells of the candles, can you imagine? Beyonce is coming over and it smells,” he said with a laugh.

Through it all, family has come first for Perez. He and his wife Betsy have five adult children. The couple recently celebrated 36 years of marriage.

“She’s the best thing that ever happened to me, by far,” he said.

Perez hopes his new book will show his fans that with faith, determination, and hard work dreams come true. Oh, and a few hits songs don’t hurt either.

Lisa Petrillo

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