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Colón, Willie  

Lise Waxer

[Colón Román jr, William Anthony; ‘El malo’]

(b South Bronx, New York, April 28, 1950). American bandleader, composer, arranger, trombonist, popular singer, producer and actor. Dubbed ‘El malo’ (the ‘bad boy’) of salsa, he began playing the trumpet in 1963 with the teenage band the Dandees. Switching to trombone, he made his professional début at 17 with the album El malo (Fania, 1967). Both as a bandleader and a member of the Fania All-Stars, he quickly moved to the fore of the burgeoning New York salsa scene, cementing the raw, trombone-heavy ‘New York sound’ inspired by earlier artists such as Eddie Palmieri and Mon Rivera. Between 1967 and 1973 he made a series of important recordings with vocalist Hector Lavoe, which included the albums Asalto Navideño I and II (Fania, 1972 and 1973) with cuatro virtuoso Yomo Toro, where traditional Puerto Rican Christmas aguinaldos were fused with salsa. During his second period (...



Andrew Lamb

[Ronger, Florimond]

(b Houdain, June 30, 1825; d Paris, Nov 3, 1892). French composer, singer and conductor. On his father's death in 1835, his mother took him to Paris. He found employment at the church of St Roch, where he learnt the rudiments of singing, organ and harmony; he then briefly studied harmony with Elwart at the Conservatoire and later composition with Auber. From 1839 to 1845 he was organist at the Bicêtre asylum and began a music class for the patients, writing songs, choruses and other entertainments for them. For eight years from 1845 he was organist at St Eustache.

For his theatrical career he took the name Hervé, gradually gaining recognition through his Don Quichotte et Sancho Pança (1848) and engagements at the Théâtre de l’Odéon and Théâtre du Palais-Royal, where he appeared as author, composer, conductor, actor, tenor buffo singer and producer, as required. His five-act ...


Rodríguez, Tito  

Lise Waxer


(b San Juan, Jan 4, 1923; d New York City, Feb 28, 1972). Puerto Rican popular singer, bandleader and composer. Raised in Puerto Rico, he arrived in New York City in 1939, singing in the band of his brother Johnny before moving on to perform in the orchestras of Enric Madriguera, Xavier Cugat and Noro Morales. He recorded the hit song Bim-bam-bum with Cugat in 1942. In 1946 he joined the band of José Curbelo along with another promising young musician, Tito Puente, then left to form a small ensemble of his own in 1947, and by the early 1950s had established one of the leading mambo orchestras in New York. Like fellow ‘Mambo Kings’ Puente and Machito, he performed regularly at the Palladium Ballroom.

One of the most popular vocalists and Latin bandleaders of the 1950s, Rodríguez is best remembered for his romantic songs. His band was notable for its driving rhythm section and tight horns, a perfect complement to his velvety voice and improvisatory skills as a ...


Roy, Harry  

Ken Rattenbury

revised by Alyn Shipton

(b London, Jan 12, 1900; d London, Feb 1, 1971). English bandleader, clarinettist, singer and composer. From 1919 he organized dance bands with his brother Syd, including Syd Roy’s Lyricals; they performed in London at Oddenino’s, Rector’s, the Hammersmith Palais and the Café de Paris, and at Rector’s in Paris. In 1928 the brothers toured South Africa and Australia (1929), then returned to England to play in variety theatres before touring Germany. In 1931 Harry formed his own band and, after touring (1933), held residencies at the Café Anglais and the Mayfair Hotel in London. He continued to tour extensively in theatres until 1939 and throughout World War II but after 1945 never regained his former status in London’s clubland. Roy was essentially a show-band leader, an energetic front man, a light, sometimes comic, singer, and a clarinettist in the style of Ted Lewis. Although hardly a jazz musician himself he employed as sidemen a number of players who later became prominent in jazz. His signature tune, ...


Mighty Sparrow  

Lise Waxer

[Francisco, Slinger]

(b Grand Roy, July 9, 1935). Trinidadian vocalist, composer and bandleader born in Grenada. His family moved to Trinidad when he was one year old. He sang as a church choirboy, and made his professional début at 19, performing in the annual calypso tent competition held during Carnival under the sobriquet Little Sparrow. In 1956 he changed his name to Mighty Sparrow and won the Calypso Monarch Competition with his road march Jean and Dinah. That same year he initiated the famous ‘calypso wars’ with his friend Lord Melody, performing at the Young Brigade Calypso Tent. The following year, his tune Carnival Boycott was taken up as an anthem to demand better competitive conditions and pay for calypsonians, masqueraders and pan-men, and which led to the founding of the Carnival Development Committee. In subsequent years, his songs Teresa (1958) and The Yankees Back (1960) also became instant hits....