We are giving away THREE copies of the Hector Lavoe Live CD. For a chance to win, answer the following trivia questions before Thursday, August 5th by noon ET.
A pianist of remarkable breadth and imagination, Gilberto "Pulpo" Colón Jr. is one of the few salsa legends from the classic Fania era who continues to play his musical trade to this date. The musical director with Héctor Lavoe for 16 years, "Pulpo" took some time from his busy schedule as a bandleader to reminisce about his years with El Cantante de los Cantantes.
You were one of Héctor's true friends. What was he really like?
He was an exceptional human being, a man of principles and strong moral values. As it is widely known, he suffered from an intense addiction to drugs. So I can tell you that, in a way, there were two Héctors. When he was out of it, he was a disaster. But when he was clean and sober, he was a real gentleman. He had a great sense of humor, and he'd give his friends the shirt off his back.
In 1978, the Héctor Lavoe album Comedia included the epic salsa workout "Bandolera" - and one of the most stunning piano solos ever committed to record. As the performer of that solo, can you tell us the story behind it?
It was José Luis Febles who wrote the arrangement for that number, and Héctor agreed that it should include a piano solo. It ended up being the last track that we recorded for that album. It was late at night at Fania's Good Vibrations studios, and all the musicians but Héctor himself were there. With the exception of Luis Perico Ortiz, everyone was having a good time with his drug or drink of choice. Willie Colón was producing, and we were ready to record.
When you think about it, "Bandolera" was tailor-made for Héctor. He was always arguing with his wife, Puchi, so we knew that he would relate to those hilarious lyrics.
At the last moment, Willie decided that the track was too long and should not include a piano solo. But Héctor called the studio and insisted on it. So Willie warned me. "If you repeat yourself during this solo, I will edit it beyond recognition," he said. I was suitably impressed, because Willie was a real star at the time.
It was December 20, 1977. Around 11 pm. We recorded the entire track - all nine minutes of it - in one single take, the entire orchestra playing together. Willie left it alone. And to this day, I have never tried to reproduce that solo.
When was the last time you saw Héctor?
It was in 1993, a couple of days before he passed away. He was at St. Clare's hospital, on 52nd street. His sister Norma called me up. Héctor was asking for me.
When I got there, he was semi-conscious - they had given him morphine to ease the pain. I don't know if he recognized me, but I held his hand and talked to him. To be honest, I've tried to block those memories from my mind. They're too painful, and I prefer to remember Héctor in his prime.
In the CD section, we have the following releases at a special price:
Celia Cruz “A Lady And Her Music” is a 2CD Deluxe edition with the best of the best from la Guarachera. Thirty-one re-mastered tracks and a booklet with never seen before pictures and extensive liner notes make this release a very special Fania release.
Willie Colón & Rubén Blades “Siembra Live” As you listen to this historic recording from the Fania vaults; you will inevitably begin to consider that perhaps the live versions of these songs are better than the original studio sessions. The concert took place on the evening of March 22, 1980 at the Capitol Theatre (New Jersey) when Colón and Blades were at the top of their careers.
Sonora Ponceña “Algo De Locura” was released last month and it is the first time that this release is available on CD! It is unthinkable that the third album by one of the most beloved salsa outfits of all time would have been overlooked for so long.
Salsa One – This successful compilation includes some of the best Salsa tracks. Fifteen classic tracks like no others, including Celia Cruz’s "Quimbara", "Che Che Colé" from Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe, "Indestructible" from Ray Barretto, the Salsa anthem "Mi Gente" from Héctor Lavoe and other classic masterpieces.
Click here or on the image to go to the CD store.
Here are two Fania T-Shirts at a very special price, only for this week. Click here or on the image to get them.
The Fania – We Love To See You Dance poster is a limited edition print on 200 numerated metallic papers that will last a lifetime. Size 26x36 inches
This unique collector piece has been created with an amazing collage of albums covers. It highlights some of the most spectacular Fania covers and represents the Tropical genres from Salsa to Boogaloo, from Latin Soul to AfroCuban and Latin Jazz.
Click on the poster image to learn more about this exclusive opportunity.
The Latin Grammy nominated Puerto Rican Salsa singer, Victor Manuelle “El Sonero De la Juventud” came this early afternoon to visit the Fania office and share his love for the Fania artists. Who doesn't remember his breathtaking acapella version of Celia Cruz's signature song, La Vida Es Un Carnaval ("Life is a Carnival") that he performed at her funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.
While at the Fania office, the best-selling salsa singer enjoyed the huge Fania records vinyl collection, which includes not only Fania records, but Tropical labels like West Side Latino, Discuba, Cotique, Alegre and more. Victor Manuelle couldn’t get over our amazing office wall, which is a collage of album covers highlighting some of the best Fania releases. Victor Manuelle said: “I want to take this wall home with me” while laughing. We thank Victor Manuelle for his visit, his great sense of humor and sharing some great memories with us.
He made our day at Fania records office!