Today, Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez (September 30, 1946 – June 29, 1993), better known as Héctor Lavoe and “El cantante de los cantantes” [Singer of Singers] would have celebrated his 65th birthday.
Héctor Lavoe was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, where he developed an interest in music at an early age. In 1967, Lavoe joined the band of Willie Colón as the band vocalist. In spite of the rising acclaim from the public, Lavoe became addicted to drugs, which began to affect his working relations and he was dismissed from the band. However, he and Colón remained good friends and continued to record music together. After forming his own band, Lavoe then moved on to become a soloist, recording several hits including “El cantante” (by Rubén Blades), “Bandolera,” and “El periódico de ayer” (by Tite Curet Alonso). During this period he was frequently featured as an invited vocalist with the Fania All Stars and recorded numerous tracks with the band.
In 1979, Lavoe underwent a deep depression and sought the help of Santería to attend to his drug addiction and other problems. After a short rehabilitation, he relapsed following the deaths of his father, his son, and his mother-in-law. These events, along with being diagnosed with HIV due to his drug use, allegedly led him to attempt suicide by jumping off the balcony of a hotel room. Lavoe survived and recorded an album before his health began to fail more rapidly. Lavoe died on June 29, 1993.
In 2007, Jennifer López and Marc Anthony immortalized Lavoe in “El Cantante.”
El Gran Mory Ortiz writes in his tribute: As everyone knows, Héctor Lavoe marked the lives of many salsa musicians around the world. Known as the “Singer of Singers,” because singers and other artistic celebrities admired him so much, Héctor Lavoe managed to conquer the world with the wittiness of his songs. He often arrived late to many events, but the audience waited for him; therefore, he was also baptized as “the King of Punctuality.” His life was full of positive and negative events—he suffered the loss of his son, the death of his mother-in-law, his own fall from a ninth floor window—the latter events making his life much more difficult than it already was. Héctor Lavoe died alone, abandoned by his friends, but he was never abandoned by his audience, who, despite his death, continues to support him. He will always be in their hearts. We will always remember you, Héctor Lavoe, Singer of Singers.
For Marc Anthony’s version of “Aguanile,” see
For tribute post, see http://www.elgranmory.com/blog/?p=1709
See more videos of Lavoe’s performances at http://www.hectorlavoe.com/
See more on “El Cantante” at http://elcantante.net/