Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Roberto Valentín Fred, 9 June 1941, Orocovis, Puerto Rico) Salsa bandleader, bassist (also trumpet until he lost his lip), arranger, producer, label boss. Played guitar at age four, trumpet by 15; went to NYC at 17 to complete music studies; played trumpet there with Willie Rosario, Joe Quijano, Charlie Palmieri and Tito Rodríguez; made debut as leader on LP Ritmo Pa Goza '66 on Fonseca label; signed to Fania and made LPs Young Man With A Horn -- Best In Bugaloo, Bad Breath and Let's Turn On '66-7 in NYC with Puerto Rican-born lead vocalist Marcelino 'Junior' Morales; returned to PR '68, continued there on Fania with Se La Comió '68 and Algo Nuevo/Something New '70, featuring lead singer Frankie Hernández.

Marvin Santiago (b 1947, PR) replaced Hernández (who'd joined Impacto Crea) on Rompecabezas '71; Soy Boricua ('I Am Puerto Rican') '72 became something of a classic, including major hits such as the title track and 'Pirata De La Mar' with Santiago singing lead. Rey Del Bajo '74 and his Fania finale In Motion '74 included both Santiago and Hernández lead vocals, with Santiago on standout tracks (Santiago's vocals were compiled on Marvin Santiago And Bobby Valentín '80 on Fania). He formed his own Bronco label in PR; first releases were two volumes of Va a la Cárcel '75, made at State Penitentiary of PR, Santiago and Hernández again lead singers; ex-Orchestra Dicupé and Andy Harlow vocalist Juan (Johnny) Vázquez replaced Hernández (who rejoined Impacto Crea and later recorded as a solo artist) on Afuera ('Free') '76 (Santiago left '76, made solo LP debut '77 on Top Hits; worked briefly with Revolución '70 during '78, then with Tommy Olivencia; resumed solo recording career, made nine albums on Top Hits and TH-Rodven '79-90; returned with Oficial '96 on Parcha featuring Max Torres). Ex-Sonora Ponceña vocalist Luigi Texidor shared lead vocals with Vázquez on Musical Seduction '78; Texidor left, recorded with Tito Puente '78-9, made solo LPs El Negrito del Sabor, El Caballero, Betún Negro and Sabroso '79-82 on Nuestra, recorded with El Combo Del Ayer '83, resurfaced '93 as co-lead vocalist on LP Si Te Gusta La Salsa by Son Siete Con El Ocho Negro. Albino Carlos (Cano) Estremera (b Santurce, PR) left Mulenze to replace Texidor on Bobby Valentín (aka La Boda de Ella) '78; ex-Impacto Crea singer Rafael (Rafú) Warner joined Estremera and Vázquez on Bobby Valentín (aka El Gato) '80 and Siempre En Forma '81. Bobby Valentín Presenta a el: Cano Estremera '82 spotlighted Estremera, who sang on Bobby Valentín (aka Brujería) '83 while Vázquez and Warner provided lead vocals. After contributing to some of Valentín's best albums, Estremera took top billing (backed by Valentín's band) on his Bronco finale En Acción '84; Estremera switched to PDC for El Niño de Oro '86, then had Billboard tropical/salsa chart-topper with Salvaje! 88 '88 on his own CEG label, followed by two vols of Dueño del Soneo ('89 and '90) and a compilation '90 on CEG; '94 comeback with magnificent Cambio de Sentido on Combo followed by Punto y Aparte '96. Ex-Orquesta Kaffé, Salsa Fever and La Terrifica singer Luisito Carrión (b 26 Oct. '62, Arecibo, PR) joined Vázquez and Warner on Algo Excepcional '85, Bobby Valentín '86 and Bobby Valentín '88; Warner left and pursued an undistinguished solo career; Joaquin (Tato) Peña filled Warner's vacancy on Mas Amor '89.

Valentín issued a compilation Aquí Esta La Salsa '90; Carrión quit, did brief spells with Don Perignon '89-90 and Sonora Ponceña '90-1 before releasing solo debut Y Ahora Voy Yo! '92, followed up by Con Respeto '95; Valentín replaced him with Giovanni Lugo on Como Nunca '90. Celebrated his 25th anniversary with 25 Aniversario del Rey del Bajo '91 (including new recordings of hits) and in concert reunion with his previous vocalists at the Centro de Bellas Artes, San Juan '91; reunited '92 with Marvin Santiago on the disappointing Donde Lo Dejamas. Valentín played trumpet on Fania All Stars' debut albums Live At The Red Garter '68; thereafter played bass, wrote arrangements for FAS LPs '71-89; appeared with them in films Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa) '72, Live In Africa '74 and Salsa '76; UK debut with FAS '76; participated in FAS '94 reunion tour to celebrate 30th anniversary of Fania label. He has worked in various capacities on records by Larry Harlow, Ismael Miranda, Roberto Roena, Cheo Feliciano, Impacto Crea, Willie Rosario, Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, Ismael Quintana, Vicentico Valdés (they collaborated on the bolero sets Vicentico Valdés y la Orquesta Bobby Valentín '82 and En La Lejania '83 on Bronco), El Gran Combo, Tony Vega and Madera Fina. Since '76 his band has had a front line of two trumpets, trombone, alto and baritone saxes; Bronco's roster used to include Puerto Rican bands Willie Rosario (last on label '91), Mulenze (to '86), and Raphy Leavitt and his Orquesta La Selecta (to '88); double-CD package Soneros Con Clave '95 is an excellent Bronco sampler. Valentín's return to the studio as a leader was Symbol Of Prestige '96 on Bronco, vocalists retaining Valdés and adding (female) Marima and Ivan Rivera.