News & Updates — salsa!

Héctor Lavoe / Sept 30, 1946 - June 29, 1993

Héctor Lavoe / Sept 30, 1946 - June 29, 1993

One of the greatest figures in salsa music, Puerto Rican sonero Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez was born on this day in 1946. Born in Ponce PR, Héctor Lavoe was childhood friends with Papo Lucca. He moved to NYC at 16, joined Willie Colón's revolutionary band and they proceeded to slay their way to the top of the salsa world. With a smash band, he was thrown into a lifestyle of hard drugs and partying. Combined with several tragedies in his family and community, his habits started catching up to him. In '73 he started his solo career and he had...

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Cachao / Sept 14, 1918 - March 22, 2008

Cachao / Sept 14, 1918 - March 22, 2008

The greatest. Bassist, composer, Cuban music figure, master of the tumbao, inventor of Latin jazz, fine-tuner of the charanga, Israel López "Cachao" Valdéz was born in Old Havana, into a family of bass players. He grew up in the house that Jose Martí used to live in. He started at 8 on bongos, and was playing bass by age nine accompanying silent films. He received classical training and as a teenager joined Orquesta Filharmónica de La Habana, which included guest conductions by Stavinski & Villa-Lobos. He stayed thirty years with the orchestra. Along with his brother Orestes "Macho' López, he...

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Chamaco Ramirez / Sept 10, 1941 - March 27, 1983

Chamaco Ramirez / Sept 10, 1941 - March 27, 1983

With a documentary due out soon on this tragic Puerto Rican salsa sonero and songwriter, we should honor him on his date of birth. Chamaco Ramirez is most famous for singing with Tommy Olivencia, but his Alive & Kicking album is a (formerly) lost classic. From Santurce, Puerto Rico, he joined the Olivencia band as a teenager, sharing lead vocals with Paquito Guzmán. He wrote "Plante Bandera" (which later became a reggaeton hit), "Trucutu" (covered by Marc Anthony) and "Evelio Y La Rumba". He also sang with Kako and the Alegre All-Stars, among others, before his '79 classic...which turned out...

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Arsenio Rodríguez / Aug 31, 1911 - Dec 30, 1970

Arsenio Rodríguez / Aug 31, 1911 - Dec 30, 1970

Happy birthday to the great Cuban tres player and son montuno legend, one of the founding fathers of salsa and mambo, Aresnio Rodríguez!! His 1940's & '50s conjuntos were major building blocks in creating the mambo style, adding conga, multiple trumpets, piano and tumbao basslines to the son cubano format, leading the way to mambo, salsa and timba to come. Born Ignacio Arsenio Travieso Scull, he came from Matanzas, Cuba. His family were African descendants who practiced Palo Monte. He was blinded at 7 years old when a horse kicked him in the face. He was a professional musician by...

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Piper Pimienta / Aug 4, 1939 - June 4, 1998

Piper Pimienta / Aug 4, 1939 - June 4, 1998

Happy birthday to Edulfamid Molina Díaz, also known as Piper Pimienta, one of Colombia's most distinct salsa voices and one of the slickest dancers of his day. His name was inspired by his spicy dance, along with his uncle's claim that he resembled a pepper. Born in Puerto Tejada, outside of Cali, he got his start in the business around 1959 with orchestras such as Sonora del Pacífico and Orquesta Los Supremos. In the early '70s he joined Fruko y sus Tesos and was also a member of the Latin Brothers (with Joe Arroyo), El Combo Candela and the Colombia...

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