Ángel Santos Vega Colon (November 1, 1922 – February 21, 1998), aka Santitos Colón, was a Puerto Rican bolero and mambo singer, born in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico and raised in Mayagüez. He was also known by the moniker: "The Man with The Golden Voice".
Youth and early career
Colón was born in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, but moved to the Dr. Luis Vadi Benelli street of the Cristy residential district in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, a location which he constantly made a reference to during his lifetime. His parents were Francisco Vega and Felícita Colón. He attempted to sing as a hobby in his early youth, occasionally teaming with Lester Cole, one of the brothers of composer Roberto Cole and later Mayagüez mayor Benjamín Cole. Their pairing was indistinctively known as "El Dúo Juvenil" and "El Dúo Azul". He later joined Frank Madera's orchestra, but only could participate in activities during the day, since he was too young to join the band at nightly functions. Colón's tenure in Madera's orchestra lasted six years (1939-1944)
Mon Rivera (The Younger) was a bandmate of his. At the same time, Rivera had a partnership with Germán Vélez (later the father of international singer Wilkins Vélez and journalist Bruni Vélez called "El Dúo Huasteco". Colón joined Rivera and Vélez occasionally, and toured as a trio over western Puerto Rico.
Colón and Tito Puente
Colón was a long-time member of Tito Puente's orchestra and was a member of the Fania All-Stars. His is the voice heard singing chorus most prominently and saying "¡Ajá! ¡Ajá!" in the original version of Oye Como Va by Puente's orchestra.
However, Santitos became better known as a singer of boleros and Spanish language versions of English standards, often recorded with an orchestral backing. His signature song was "Niña". Fania selected Santos Colón and Cheo Feliciano as solo singers despite having Justo Betancourt and Monguito el Único under contract.
Santitos Colón is survived by his sons Santos, George and daughter Diana Vega Namer, who reside in Sarasota, Florida. He is also survived by his wife Judy. He lost another son, Héctor, to liver disease in July 1998.
- Max Salazar Mambo kingdom: Latin music in New York 2002 "Santitos Colón - On Saturday, February 21, 1998, the renowned balladeer Santos Colón, known as Santitos, died in Puerto Rico. ... Born Angel Santos Vega Colón in Mayaguez on November 1, 1922, he began singing with the orchestra of Frank Madera..."
- Josephine Powell Tito Puente: When the Drums Are Dreaming 2007 Page 246 "... show at the Lafayette Theater in Harlem. The only thing original was that seven of the eleven selections were Puente's compositions. What was new was vocalist Santitos Colón, a Puerto Rican who was both a bolerista and a guarachero ..."
- Paquito D'Rivera, Ilan Stavans My Sax Life: A Memoir 2008 Page 318 "... Ray Barretto, Willie Bobo, Cándido Camero, and Carlos “Patato” Valdés, passed through his rhythm sections, while such great vocalists as La Lupe, Santitos Colón, Vicentico Valdés, La India, Rolando Laserie, Miguelito Valdés, and Bobby .."
- César Miguel Rondón, Frances R. Aparicio, Jackie White The Book of Salsa: A Chronicle of Urban Music from the Caribbean 2008 Page 127 "The same could be said of Santitos Colón, the best bolerista in Tito Puente's orchestra and the singer Fania tried to use to forge a connection with the past. But both Vitín and Colón lacked the roots and the incisiveness to create a .."
- César Miguel Rondón, Frances R. Aparicio, Jackie White The Book of Salsa: A Chronicle of Urban Music from the Caribbean 2008 Page 53 "The final two of the seven Fania singers — Santos Colón and Cheo Feliciano — were called soloists because they had no permanent role in any particular orchestra. It is odd that Fania selected these two when it had four other singers under contract. In fact, it is easy to argue that either Justo Betancourt or Monguito should..."