Composer of the broadly popular hits "Festa Para Um Rei Negro (Pega no Ganzê)," with which his samba school Salgueiro won the annual Carnaval contest, and "Mangueira, Nossa Querida Madrinha (Tengo-Tengo)" (both extremely important historical modifications in the samba-enredo), and member of the all-star group Cinco Só, Zuzuca do Salgueiro also had some commercial success as a samba performer in clubs in Rio. In 2000, Zuzuca launched the CD Samba de Raiz, which had the hits "Pega no Ganzê, Pega no Ganzá" and "Vem Chegando a Madrugada."
At 15, Zuzuca moved to Rio de Janeiro, founding with friends the Bloco Carnavalesco Independentes da Silva Teles. In 1960, he became a regular at the Salgueiro samba school, where he presented, in 1965, his samba (written with Noel Rosa de Oliveira) "Tudo é Alegria." Already a member of the Ala dos Compositores (Composers' Wing) of the samba school, he wrote the samba-enredo "Chico-Rei," which brought to Salgueiro second place in the annual Carnaval contest of 1964. In 1967, Jair Rodrigues recorded with success the batucada "Vem Chegando a Madrugada" (written with Noel Rosa de Oliveira). He also had success with the samba-enredo "Amores Célebres do Brasil." In 1971, the Salgueiro won the championship with Zuzuca's "Festa Para Um Rei Negro." The bridge of the samba was a melody taken from a religious folkloric march of Folia de Reis, and the result was to shorten the samba-enredo to make it quicker and more reliably recalled. As the strategy was successful, in the next year the school paraded again with a samba-enredo of his, "Mangueira, Minha Querida Madrinha." The chorus, "Tengo-Tengo," though, was so popular that it provoked the opposite effect. As the very short samba was massively divulged through record, radio, and TV before Carnaval, all the audience present at the actual parade sang along with the samba school; as a result, the precise synchronization of so large a musical ensemble failed, and the school's members stopped to sing at the very avenue. That was the explanation for the inglorious fifth place earned by the Salgueiro in that year. Nevertheless, the shortening/thematic simplification introduced by Zuzuca would influence all other samba schools, changing the face of the Carnaval for not using complicated historic themes anymore.