- This article is about the Tito Puente character. For the real-life musician and guest voice actor, please see Tito Puente.
Tito Puente is a Latin-American jazz musician and bandleader who was a music teacher at Springfield Elementary School for a brief time. He was also a suspect in the attempted murder of Charles Montgomery Burns.
When Groundskeeper Willie struck oil in the basement of Springfield Elementary, the faculty, staff and students made a number of budget proposals based on the revenue that the oil well was expected to bring in. Lisa Simpson proposed that the school begin a jazz program and hire Tito Puente to be the instructor, saying that Puente was "ready to give up the drudgery of the professional mambo circuit and settle into a nice teaching job." Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers quickly approved the proposal, and Puente said he was looking forward to the opportunity.
The opportunity vanished, however, when Mr. Burns beat the school to the oil, tapping the deposit via a slant-drilling operation and thus robbing the school of all of the prospective income from the oil. Skinner announced that the school was cancelling all of the previously approved budget proposals, and in fact would have to eliminate non-essential programs such as music in order to pay for the construction and demolition of the oil derrick. The announcement angered Puente, and he later said in a phone conversation with Lisa that he wanted to settle Burns' hash. When Burns was shot, Puente's anger at losing the teaching job ("He robbed the school of Tito!") provided him with a possible motive.
While investigating Burns' shooting, Chief Wiggum learned that Puente had vowed to take revenge on Burns. Wiggum then visited Puente's jazz club to question him. Puente readily admitted to wanting revenge, but said that "[setting Burns'] soul afire with a slanderous mambo" was a more fitting, and more thorough, vengeance than simply shooting him. To demonstrate his point, Puente and his Latin Jazz Ensemble performed the song "Señor Burns", which Wiggum enjoyed. After the song was over, Wiggum said he believed that Puente was innocent, and added, "I hope all our suspects are this much fun."
Due to the actual Tito Puente passing away, the character is technically retired as he guest starred as himself.