New York Era of the 60s and 70s

Salsa Songs from the New York Era of the 60s and 70s

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, New York city emerged as the unquestioned capital of salsa music and Latin dancing. The great bands of that era gave us some of the most memorable salsa songs of all time and they are still heard and played to this very day. Some of the greatest music ever recorded came out of Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan and featured the greatest musicians of our generation.

One of the greatest all time salsa song writers of that fantastic age was Willie Colon. Willie Colon was a trombone player and he really invented modern day salsa as we know and love it today. Collaborating with arguably the greatest salsa singer of the day, Hector LaVoe, Colon was one of the first artists to record on the Fania record label which was started by entrepreneur and Latin music lover Jerry Masucci. Masucci and Colon single handedly started a musical revolution with albums such as “Crime Pays” and “Lo Mato”. These landmark albums featured such memorable salsa songs as “Senora Lola”, “Che Che Cole” and “Aguanile”. The feature film “El Cantante” which was released in 2007 was the life story of Hector LaVoe and starred salsa singer Marc Antony as the drug addicted LaVoe and Jennifer Lopez as his wife. The movie was a huge hit internationally and brought a lot of attention to the genre.

Most movie goers know Ruben Blades as the great Hollywood character actor but few know that he was also one of the greatest salsa song writers and singers of all time. Ruben made his debut singing lead for conga player and band leader Ray Barretto and later graduated to become the front man for Willie Colon after Hector LaVoe went solo. Panamanian Ruben Blades wrote some of the great salsa songs ever written including “Juan Pachanga”, “Pedro Navaja”, and “Pablo Pueblo”. He also actually wrote the salsa song “El Cantante” for Hector LaVoe. Blades was also featured in the Fania All-Stars which included all the greatest salsa musicians of the day and which performed all over the world to gigantic stadium crowds.

Some of the other great salsa song writers and salsa musicians of the era were Larry Harlow (“La Cartera”), Roberto Roena (“Cui Cui”), Ismael Rivera, Kako, Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, Cachao, Ismael Miranda, Cheo Feliciano, and many others. Some of the great bands of the day were Tipica ’73, Roberto Roena and the Apollo Sound, Tipica Novel, Charanga ’76 and Saoco led by the great Henry Fiol.

Salsa music was performed at many venues around New York including the Village Gate in Soho and the Cheetah. Madison Square Garden was the site of several filmed and sold out shows by the Fania All Stars. Great artists such as Willie Colon and Eddie Palmieri took their shows on the road to places such as the Fillmore West and the Hilton ballroom in San Francisco. Many of these bands played outdoors at the annual summer festival at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley.

Salsa songs were never as good or as popular as during that time in history with the exception of Cuban music from the 80s and 90s. Salsa dancers all over the world dance to these swinging salsa songs to this day. Long live Latin music!

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