Rock music in Puerto Rico
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Rock in Puerto Rico has been a product of direct and indirect influence from both American rock music and Latin rock music, and its fusion with other genres. Throughout history, the genre has suffered ups and downs having a significant peak in the 1990s. Here's a breakdown of how rock evolved in the island through the decades.
1950s and 1960s
The 1950s mark the introduction of the Rock and Roll genre on the island. With the Elvis Presley hype in the United States, some of its influence reached the island of Puerto Rico. While a few young rock groups were in existence, television producer Alfred D. Herger started bringing rock and roll acts into the island motivating the local audience to embrace it. This input, and Herger's tutelage, ignited some young artists to start the movement "La Nueva Ola" (The New Wave). Herger also led several television night shows where he showcased rock music from the island and the USA.
Late 1960s and 1970s
In the mid to late 1960s, several Puerto Rican bands started surfacing with some mainstream success, such as The Night Walkers. While most of them centered their appearances at private activities at local entertainment centers and night clubs, some appeared on TV.
In the early 1970s, the movement of nova trova musicians was growing in the island, led by singers like Roy Brown and Noel Hernández. During this time, the local radio station Alfa Rock starts broadcasting rock music in the island.
With the arrival of stations like MTV, American rock reached the island. However, surging rock en español bands from Mexico, Argentina and Spain were still rarely heard of, and most of the local bands still sang in English. Artists of other genres like Menudo, started fusing their music (pop/ballads) with rock. This decade also started the ongoing "battle" between "Cocolos" (people that listen to salsa) and "rockeros" (people that listen to Rock music). The introduction of new wave and Europop in the USA started the surging of similar bands like Words Four Two, No You Turn, NeoEngland, and Nirvana (not the Kurt Cobain band). In 1988, a pop-rock band called Top Banana was signed by national label CBS.
During this decade, rock music reached its peak in the island. Rock en Español fully reached the island, and artists like Miguel Mateos, and others were heard in radio stations. Mattador released the first instance of their album Save Us From Ourselves with guitarist Ramón Ortiz, who would later go on to play with Puya (previously known as Whisker Biscuit). The band even opened the Iron Maiden concert at the island. On January 4, 1990, John Rodriguez aka. MetalKid, a radio personality launched the first radio program to cater only Puerto Rican artists at La Mega Station 106 FM along with Edgardo "El Bebo" Adames; giving the opportunity to dozens of acts play their music on the radio. Later that year MetalKid created Brutal Noise Music, the first record label to include metal music on their roster. Bands like Crypta, Homicide, Morbid Death, Deathkross and the Christian act Deathless among others were the first metal releases to be available under Brutal Noise. Brutal Noise joined forces with local promoter Albert Morales from ShowNet and produced concerts like Iron Maiden, Pantera, Sepultura, Slayer making the way to promote local acts on their shows. Until today this tradition still alive. In 1994, former Menudo singer Robi Rosa released his first solo album, and Mattador re-released their album, is the most commercially successful rock band in Puerto Rico, selling over 250,000 copies from their last album Consejo and reaching platinum since their debut in Puerto Rican charts in 1998.
The 1990s saw also the first video from a local band in MTV Latino. It was for the song "Terminal" by La Mosca, aka Spanish Fly and Spanish Flies. The band was a power trio composed of Geronimo Mercado, Eduardo Paniagua & Gaby Vidal. Eduardo would later go to Puya & Gaby Vidal to ONGO. Steve Vai used the band as his backing band when he came to Puerto Rico for a guitar clinic at Villa Piano. When Draco came to the island for his three show at The Warehouse, La Mosca was chosen to open them all.
This decade saw growth on the island in regards to the rock genre as a whole, with new bands and existing bands experimenting with such genres such as rock, heavy metal genre, punk and soft rock.