Héctor Lavoe [1946-1993]
Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. At the age of 17 he moved to New York and aspired to be a singer, finally getting a break in 1967 when he was invited to sing with the band of Willie Colón. Colón took advantage of the jíbaro (country) tinge in his voice, arranging some songs in the styles of aguinaldo and seis. They recorded 13 highly successful LPs, adopting a mischievous bad guy image with album titles like Asalto Navideño, Cosa Nostra and The Big Break.
Héctor Lavoe’s voice, improvisational flair and ability to connect with his audiences endeared him to the public who adored him as the voice (“la voz”) of salsa music.
In the early 1970s he left Colón’s band and went solo to record some of his most famous salsa hits: Mi Gente, Periódico de Ayer and El Cantante, the latter composed in his honor by Rubén Blades. He also recorded with the likes of Tito Puente, the FANIA All Stars and many others. Although Lavoe struggled with drug addiction and emotional problems, he brightened the lives of millions of people.