Manny Oquendo began percussion studes in 1945 and gained drumming experience with the bands of Carlos Valero, Luis del Campo, Juan "El Boy" Torres, Jose Budet, Juanito Sanabria, Marcelino Guerra, Jose Curbelo and Pupi Campo before becoming Tito Puente's bongo player in 1950.
Four years later Oquendo was performing with Tito Rodriquez and Vicentico Valdes in 1955. For the following six years, Oquendo freelanced and recorded for New York's top bands. In 1962 he settled with the Eddie Palmieri orchestra. Before 1974 ended, Oquendo's Conjunto Libre came into being. Oquendo gained world-wide recognition in 1983 with his recording of "Little Sunflower," considered one of the best recordings of the year. ~ Max Salazar, All Music Guide