Remember Joe Arroyo the Colombian Salsa Legend

Joe Arroyo was one of the all time greatest Colombian Tropical singers. He helped define the sound of Colombian Salsa and make it popular around the world.

Cartagena, Colombia

Alvaro José Arroyo González was born in the Nariño neighborhood of Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia on November 1, 1955.

By the time he was eight years old, he was singing in brothels.

Arroyo blended the Caribbean musical styles of the African diaspora into his own unique sound. He blended New York Salsa, Colombian Cumbia and Porro, Trinidadian Soca, Haitian Compas and French Antillean Zouk.

Fruko y sus Tesos with Joe Arroyo

In 1971 got signed to the seminal Colombian Tropical label Disco Fuentes.

Julio Ernesto Estrada, the bass player for Fruko y sus Tesos, one of Colombia’s top Salsa bands, heard Arroyo and brought him into the band.

Arroyo sang with Fruko y sus Tesos for ten years.

Joe Arroyo and La Verdad

In 1981, Arroyo went solo with his own band La Verdad. It was the wild 1980s and like many others Arroyo suffered from drug addiction. Still he made a string of hits.

His La Rebelion, known for it’s refrain No Le Pegue a  la Negra (Don’t Beat the Black woman), has become a Colombian anthem. Watching the video makes one wonder why in the United States, we still don’t talk honestly about slavery in our country.

En Barranquilla Me Quedo (I Stay in Barranquilla)

Arroyo died in Barranquilla, Colombia on July 26, 2011. The same year, the Latin Academy of Records gave him a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award.

Joe Arroyo is My Favorite Tropical Singer

In college my father hung out with three brothers from Guyana. They used to call him Pancho because he liked the Spanish version of the Davy Crockett song, “Pancho Crockett.” Anyway, through the brothers’ influence my Dad used to like to play Arroyo’s music very loud at home. I hated it when I was a boy, but I love it now.

It was very strange to find my own father in Joe Arroyo’s music.


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