Sunday, December 23, 2007

El Gran varon - Willie Colon

From: billycolonia

William Anthony Colón (Wikipedia)(born 28 April 1950) is a Puerto Rican salsa music icon. First and foremost a trombonist, Colón also sings, writes, produces and acts. He is also involved in municipal politics in New York City.

Willie Colón was born in the Bronx, New York, to Puerto Rican parents. He picked up the trumpet from a young age, and later switched to trombone, inspired by the all-trombone sound of Mon Rivera and -at least during a specific period in the 1960s- that of Eddie Palmieri. He was bullied in his neighborhood because of this, and had to defend himself quite often from gang members. In a way similar to Bob Marley's, he gained a reputation for being tough and fierce in combat, even if his height could put him in a disadvantage (Willie is 5ft. 6in. -168 cm- tall). He spent some summers at his maternal grandmother's farm in Manatí, Puerto Rico, where he claims he learned the discipline and tenacity to thrive on his own, as well as a strong love for Puerto Rico that shaped his later political views (he's a strong supporter of Puerto Rican independence and Latin American political unity, and theoretically a liberal, even if later disappointments with the Democratic Party of the United States moved him to endorse Republican candidates).

He was signed to Fania Records at 15 and recorded his first album at age 17, which ultimately sold more than 300,000 copies. Due to fortuitous events (he had no singer for his band at recording time since his first candidate was killed in a street fight), the main record producer at Fania at the time, Johnny Pacheco, recommended Héctor Lavoe to him. This led to a very successful collaboration between the two, which ended in 1973 when Willie quit touring to raise a family and pursue various business ventures (including computer programming) to guarantee a steady income at home. Willie did produce some of Lavoe's solo records afterwards.

Beyond his skills on the trombone, he rapidly excelled as a composer, arranger, and singer, and eventually as a producer and director. Combining elements of jazz, rock, and salsa, his diverse work incorporates the rhythms of traditional Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Brazilian music. He went on to have many successful collaborations with salsa musicians and singers such as Ismael Miranda, Celia Cruz and Soledad Bravo, and singer-songwriter Rubén Blades.

Colón holds the record for all time sales, creating 40 productions that have sold over 30 million records worldwide. His work has won fifteen gold records, five platinum records, and has been nominated for 11 Grammy awards.

In September 2004, Colón received the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Over the course of his career, he has collaborated with musical greats such as the Fania All Stars, Héctor Lavoe, Rubén Blades, David Byrne, and Celia Cruz. Siembra, his record with Rubén Blades, was the best selling album for its genre.

Beyond devoting himself to creating art, Colón has worked hard to preserve and vitalize art, serving as the chair of the Association of Hispanic Arts. His activism does not stop there. Colón has been especially active working on human rights, immigration, and environmental issues.

In addition to serving as a visiting professor and receiving honorary degrees at various universities, in 1991, Colón received Yale University’s Chubb Fellowship, an honor that he shares with Presidents Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, among others.

Colón currently serves as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s representative to El Museo del Barrio and as the mayor’s liaison to the Latin Media Entertainment Commission (to which Robert DeNiro and Jennifer Lopez serve as the celebrity chairs). Willie's base of operations is in New Rochelle, New York.

El Malo (1967)
The Hustler (1968)
Guisando Doing a Job (1969)
Cosa Nuestra (1970)
Asalto Navideño (1971)
La Gran Fuga The Big Break(1971)
El Juicio (1972)
Asalto Navideño Vol.2 (1972)
Lo Mato (1973)
Crime Pays (1973)
Willie (1974)
Se Chavó el Vecindario! There Goes the Neighborhood (1975)
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1976)
El Baquine de Angelitos Negros (1977)
Metiendo Mano!! (1977)
Sólo Ellos Pudieron Hacer Éste Álbum Only They Could Have Made This Album (1977)
47 MINUTES (1978)
Siembra (1978)
Solo (1979)
Doble Energía (1980)
Canciones del Solar de los Aburridos (1981)
Celia & Willie (1981)
Fantasmas (1981)
Corazón Guerrero (1982)
The Last Fight (1982)
Vigilante (1983)
Criollo (1983)
Tiempo pa' Matar (1984)
Contrabando Especial N°5 (1985)
Los Triunfadores The Winners (1987)
Top Secrets/Legal Alien (1989)
Color Americano (1990)
Honra y Cultura (1991)
Willie Colón & Tito Puente (1993)
Bad boys 2 (1994)
Hecho en Puerto Rico (1993)
The Best Vol. 2 (1994)
Tras la Tormenta (1995)
Y Vuelve Otra Vez!!! (1995)
Demasiado Corazón (1998)
Quien Eres (1999)
Idilio (2000)
Guerrero de Corazón (2000)
Experiencia (2004)
The Player (2007)

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