Free stream or download, and using this opportunity with music education to do other important outreach.
This program is dedicated to Jorge Wilhelmy, from Mexicali, Mexico, whom we lost in January 1992 to AIDS. I miss you my friend.
“Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.” - Hector Lavoe
Today, Friday 01 December 2017, marks the 29th annual occurrence of World AIDS Day. As in previous years, I am including a special audio program here that chronicles an important artist we have lost to the pandemic. Each one has focused on an artist from a population that has yet to see the benefits from the miracle cures and prevention methods provided by modern science, much of this due to the fact that outreach has been lacking in serving these communities. Health coverage doesn't cover these communities as well as it does those of Western whites, which coupled with a lack of understanding cultural differences and a less than subtle type of classism and racism that pervades serving non-white populations keeps the rates of new infections high.
Our first World AIDS Day program spotlighted Fela Kuti, an African musician and activist. Our second one was Sylvester, a gay Black man originally from Los Angeles. This year, my focus is another U.S. citizen: the man who may be the greatest Salsa singer in recorded history, Hector Lavoe, from Puerto Rico. This show is incredibly significant to me personally, as the person I dedicate this year's program to, my late friend Jorge, who was with me in ACTUP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), loved Lavoe's music, and was my first introduction to it.
Born Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez in Puerto Rico in 1946, Lavoe came from a musically talented family and attended a public high school that focused on music education. At the age of 16, he moved to New York City in 1963 and found work in local Spanish music combos, where he met Johnny Pacheco, the man who would coin the word "Salsa" to describe Puerto Rican dance music and who was also one of the founders of Fania Records, Lavoe's long-time label.
Hector Lavoe, singing live in 1980. Photographer unknown, and courtesy of Fania Records.
1. El Malo (Willie Colon featuring Hector Lavoe)
2. El Rey De La Puntualidad (with the Fania All-Stars)
3. Che Che Cole (Willie Colon featuring Hector Lavoe)
4. Abuelita (Willie Colon featuring Hector Lavoe)
5. El Cantante
6. De Ti Depende
7. Ah-Ah/O-No (Willie Colon featuring Hector Lavoe)
8. Aguanile (Willie Colon featuring Hector Lavoe)
9. Tus Ojos
10. Pobre Del Pobre
11. El Sabio
In 1967, as legend has it, he was asked to sing several tracks on the debut album by Willie Colon, a 17 year-old musician recording in New York, unbeknownst to Colon. The pair not only hit it off, one of the tracks, "El Malo" ("The Bad Guy") help propel the LP to sales unheard of by Latin musicians at the time, particularly for a new type of music many had not ever heard before. The pair would work off and on for several years. Lavoe would eventually start to record solo albums and record with the Fania house band live, the Fania All-Stars, to massive crowds throughout the world. In 1975, Lavoe would release his debut LP, La Voz ("The Voice"), His second LP, De Ti Depende, made Lavoe a huge star, with one of it's tracks, "Periódico de Ayer" ("Yesterday's News") literally spending months at the pole position on charts in Spanish speaking countries around the globe.
It was around this time that Lavoe would start heavily using IV drugs to deal with depression. He was known to be late many times to perform or was a no-show entirely. He became infected with HIV during the height of his career, and his health started to fail. He attempted suicide in 1988 by jumping out of a multi-story building, but recovered enough to keep performing. His health became so poor that in 1990 at his performance at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, he could not even sing, and it is considered by many to be the last time the public saw Lavoe onstage.
He released his last LP of new material, Strikes Back, in 1987. Lavoe died at the age of 46 on 29 June, 1993, in New York City, due to complications from AIDS.
1. Periódico De Ayer (live at the International Club in Miami, 1987)
2. El Todopoderoso
3. Vamos A Reír Un Poco
4. Sombras Nada Mas
5. La Banda (Willie Colon featuring Hector Lavoe)
6. Piraña (Willie Colon featuring Hector Lavoe)
7. Porque Te Conoci?
8. Consejo De Oro
9. Emborrachame De Amor
10. Isla Del Encanto
11. Mi Gente (live in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with the Fania All-Stars)
Remember: Fight AIDS. Not people with AIDS. And don't forget to dance.
Love to you all.
Ben "Bear" Brown Jr., owner
Ace of Spades PDX