|Born||June 9, 1941|
|Origin||Orocovis, Puerto Rico|
|Occupations||Musician and bandleader|
Valentín (birth name: Roberto Valentin) was born in Orocovis, Puerto Rico. He was taught by his father to play the guitar at a young age. When his mother died in 1947, he went to live with his older sister and was raised in the town of Coamo where he received his primary education and studied music. When he was 11 years old, he participated in a local talent contest with a trio that he had formed. He played the guitar and sang for the trio and they won the first place prize. One of his teachers suggested that he attend the Jose I. Quinton Academy of Music, which he did - here he learned to play the trumpet.
In 1956, Valentín moved with his family to New York City where he attended George Washington High School and continued to take music lessons. In 1958, he went to play for Joe Quijano but, shortly after, he played in the band of Willie Rosario, who was from the same neighborhood.
In 1963, Valentín joined Tito Rodriguez (after not being hired by Tito in a recording session because of his age, he was given a chance and was added to his regular band) and traveled twice with Tito's orchestra to Venezuela. He also made musical arrangements for Tito and at times for Charlie Palmieri, Joe Quijano, Willie Rosario, and Ray Barretto. In 1965, he formed his own band and was signed by the Fania Record Label. He recorded "El Mensajero" (The Messenger) and "Young Man With a Horn". He held his first concert in Puerto Rico during that period of time.
|You may listen to Bobby Valentín's "El Caiman" here.|
While in Puerto Rico, in 1969, Tito Rodríguez's bass player failed to arrive at a concert. Valentín found someone to play the trumpet and played the bass himself. Since then, he has played the bass for his band. He has also played the bass on occasion, for the bands of Willie Rosario, Raphy Leavitt and Vicentico Valdés (he produced one of Valdés' albums, even writing its string arrangements as a personal goal). Valentín was also the musical arranger for the Fania All Stars, and is featured in a live recording of the conglomerate's song "Descarga Fania" (which he also wrote) playing a bass guitar solo.
In 1975, Valentín left Fania and founded his own record label "Bronco Records" and released the recordings of "Va a la Carcel" Vol 1 and Vol 2, recorded "live" at "El Oso Blanco", Puerto Rico's oldest state penitentiary. At the time, Marvin Santiago was the singer on Valentín's band; his biggest hit with Valentín was "Soy Boricua", an ode to Puerto Rican nationality that has since become a patriotic song for the pro-independence faction of the island. In 1978, salsa singer Cano Estremera made his singing debut with Valentín's orchestra and recorded various major hits for the band, particularly the Roberto Angleró song "La boda de ella" and "Manuel García".
During the years Valentín has been featured in recordings (and occasional live appearances) by Larry Harlow, Ismael Miranda, Roberto Roena, Cheo Feliciano and Celia Cruz. He also provided backdrop for the Billyván Santiago (Marvin's youngest brother) song "Mata la cucaracha", a sleeper hit in Puerto Rico during the 2002 Christmas season.
Valentin continues to record and play with his band, he released "La Gran Reunion" (The Grand Reunion). In 2004, Valentin's "En Vivo Desde Bellas Artes" was released in DVD form. As of 2006, Valentin's "El Caiman" can be heard (or played) in the video game Scarface. His last disc called "Evolución" was released in 2008.