Willie Colón

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Willie Colón
Birth name William Anthony Colón Román
Also known as El Malo
Born (1950-04-28) April 28, 1950 (age 67)
Origin The Bronx, New York City, United States
Genres Salsa, bolero
Occupation(s) Activist, musician, record producer, composer
Instruments Vocals, trombone, trumpet
Years active 1967–present
Associated acts Héctor Lavoe, Rubén Blades, Mon Rivera, David Byrne, Celia Cruz, Da House, Fonseca, Ismael Miranda, Soledad Bravo, Sophy, Fania All-Stars
Website http://www.williecolon.com

William Anthony Colón Román (born April 28, 1950) is a Nuyorican (a New York-born Puerto Rican) salsa musician and social activist. He began his career as a trombonist, and also sings, writes, produces and acts. He is also involved in the politics of New York City[1] and international politics.[2][3]

Early years[edit]

Willie Colón a Nuyorican, born in the South Bronx, New York, to Nuyorican Puerto Rican parents from Puerto Rican grandparents. He picked up the trumpet from a young age, and later switched to trombone, inspired by the all-trombone sound of Mon Rivera and Barry Rogers. He spent some summers at his maternal grandmother’s sister’s (La finca de Celín y Ramón) farm in the outskirts of Manatí, Puerto Rico on the road to neighboring Ciales, Puerto Rico.[4]

At the age of 15 he was signed to Fania Records and at 17 he recorded his first album, which ultimately sold more than 300,000 copies. Due to fortuitous events, the main record producer at Fania at the time, Johnny Pacheco, recommended Héctor Lavoe to him.[5]

He has also acted in films, including roles in Vigilante (1983), The Last Fight (1983) and It Could Happen to You (1994).

Colón has been a civil rights, community and political activist since the age of 16. He has served as a member of the Latino Commission on AIDS and the United Nations Immigrant Foundation, President of the Arthur Schomburg Coalition for a Better New York, member of the Board of Directors of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.[6] In 1995, Mr. Colón became the first minority to serve on the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) national board and is now a member of the ASCAP Foundation.[7][8]

Quotes[edit]

International Trombone Association: "Willie Colón has probably done more than anyone since Tommy Dorsey to keep the trombone before the public. Stylistically they are poles apart, Dorsey representing an ultra-smooth approach, Colón a Hard-edged roughness reportedly inspired by Barry Rogers. Unfortunately, Colón's public is largely Latino, so his music and contribution have gone unnoticed or ignored by the general press"- Gerald Sloan, professor of music University of Arkansas

John Storm Roberts: Though the adulation given Colón's early recordings is fully justified, it has the unfortunate side-effect of blinding people to his equally fine recent recordings. Yet aside from the fact that he'd turned himself into an excellent and very individual singer, the recordings he made just before his political ambitions took over are by any measure outstanding.

Smithsonian Books: "Willie Colón is one of the essential gods of Salsa mythology, perhaps the most essential of the entire pantheon."

AllAboutJazz.com: "Colón was to the history of Latin music what Don Drummond was to Jamaican ska and J.J. Johnson was to jazz."

New York Times: “Most rock and pop stars whose names are known in every household would be delighted with records sales of such magnitude.”

Village Voice: “Willie is a gifted producer… a talent on the order of Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder… his music moves with Ellingtonian swing and grace”

Musical career[edit]

Beyond the trombone, he has also worked as a composer, arranger, and singer, and eventually as a producer and director. Combining elements of jazz, rock, and salsa, his work incorporates the rhythms of traditional music from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and the other ancestral homeland, Africa, representing the mostly one-way flow from Puerto Rico to the New York-based diaspora.[9] "His life and music commute back and forth between his home turf in the Bronx and his ancestral Puerto Rico, with more than casual stop-offs in other musical zones of the Caribbean."[9] Colón "makes the relation between diaspora and Caribbean homeland the central theme of his work," particularly in his 1971 Christmas album, Asalto navideño.[9] The lyrics and music of the songs on this album "enact the diaspora addressing the island culture in a complex, loving but at the same time mildly challenging way."[9][10]

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.[11] On his website, Colón claims to hold the "all time record for sales in the Salsa genre, [having] created 40 productions that have sold more than thirty million records worldwide."[12]

One significant overarching theme in Colón's music, which draws from many cultures and several different styles, is an exploration of the competing associations that Puerto Ricans have with their home and with the United States. He uses his songs to depict and investigate the problems of living in the U.S. as a Puerto Rican,[13] and also to imply the cultural contributions that Puerto Ricans have to offer.[9]

Recent accomplishments[edit]

In 1999, Colón was a member of the Jubilee 2000 Delegation to the Vatican along with Randolph Robinson of Trans Africa, Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs, Bono from U2 and Quincy Jones. This initiative received Pope John Paul II’s endorsement and later prompted President Clinton to forgive the US portion of the third world indebted countries.[2]

In 2001, Willie Colón ran for Public Advocate of the City of New York, garnering a respectable 101,393 votes, more than many other citywide candidates.[14]

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 notable musicians such as the Fania All-Stars, Héctor Lavoe, Rubén Blades, David Byrne, and Celia Cruz.[15] Siembra, his record with Rubén Blades, was the best selling album for its genre.[16]

Colón has served as the chair of the Association of Hispanic Arts.[17][18]

In addition to serving as a visiting professor and receiving honorary degrees for music and humane letters at various universities, in 1991, Colón received Yale University’s Chubb Fellowship.

In 2006, Willie Colón is portrayed by actor John Ortiz to Marc Anthony's Héctor Lavoe in the movie El Cantante, starring Jennifer Lopez. The movie is about the life of Héctor Lavoe and it covered their early career as the top salsa duo from the 1960s through the mid-1970s.

Colón currently serves as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's representative advisor and liaison to the Latin Media Entertainment Commission[19] (to which Robert De Niro and Jennifer Lopez serve as the celebrity chairs). Colón's base of operations, ELMALO, is in New Rochelle, New York.

On April 16, 2008, Colón announced his endorsement of U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton in her 2008 presidential campaign.[20]

Colón has also recently released two new singles, in promotion for his new album El Malo Vol II: Prisioneros del Mambo, "Amor de Internet" and "Corazón Partido."[12][21]

On April 25, 2010, Colón appeared at The National Mall for The Earth Day Climate Rally, along with Sting, John Legend, The Roots, Jimmy Cliff, Passion Pit, Bob Weir, Joss Stone, Robert Randolph, Patrick Stump, Mavis Staples, Booker T, Honor Society and Tao Rodríguez-Seeger.

On October 7, 2011, Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association[22] recognized Colón for his social and community activism and support.[23]


In 2012 and 2013, Colón actively campaigned against Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and the socialist Bolivarian Revolution. Chávez addressed Colón via Twitter[3] admonishing Colón to mind his business: "Zapatero a sus zapatos" ("shoemaker tend to your shoes"). After Chávez' death, Willie Colón endorsed opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, vigorously using social media and composing a campaign theme "Mentira Fresca"[24] ("Fresh Lies" which became the regime's candidate, Nicolás Maduro's nickname) the song went viral in Latin America, garnering millions of plays and downloads. Colón continues to be active in Venezuelan politics having pressed for the release of journalist Leocenis García[25] and most recently the release of political prisoner General Antonio Rivero[26]

In 2014 Willie Colón joined the Westchester County Sheriff's Department as a Deputy Sheriff.

In 2015 BILLBOARD MAGAZINE: named Willie Colón one of the 30 most influential Latin Artists of All Time.

In 2016 Willie Colon began his 50th Anniversary Tour that will run through 2017 to Puerto Rico, Colombia (Several Cities), New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Tampa, Mexico (Several Cities) and has broken box office records in many venues.

In 2017 Colón announced his upcoming book titled BARRIO DE GUAPOS (The Secret Life of Willie Colón) and the launching of his record label WILLIE COLÓN PRESENTS.

Willie Colón is currently a Deputy Sergeant with the Westchester County Department of Public Safety.


Discography[edit]

Title Producer Label Released
El Malo Jerry Masucci
Johnny Pacheco
Fania Records 1967
The Hustler Jerry Masucci
Johnny Pacheco
Fania Records 1968
Guisando 1969
Cosa Nuestra 1970
Asalto Navideño 1971
La Gran Fuga 1971
El Juicio 1972
Asalto Navideño Vol. 2 1972
Crime Pays 1972
Lo Mato 1973
Willie 1974
Se Chavó el Vecindario! 1975
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly 1975
Metiendo Mano!! 1977
El Baquiné de Angelitos Negros Willie Colón Fania Records 1977
Sólo Ellos Pudieron Hacer Este Álbum 1977
49 Minutes 1978
Deja Vu 1978
Siembra Willie Colón
Ruben Blades
Fania Records 1978
Solo 1979
Doble Energía 1980
Canciones del Solar de los Aburridos 1981
Celia & Willie 1981
Fantasmas Willie Colón Fania Records 1981
Corazón Guerrero 1982
The Last Fight 1982
Su Vida Musical: 14 Éxitos Originales 1982
Vigilante 1983
Criollo 1984
Tiempo Pa' Matar 1984
Contrabando Especial N°5 1985
Quién Eres 1986
Grandes Éxitos 1986
The Winners 1987
Top Secrets 1989
Color Americano 1990
Grandes Éxitos Vol. 2 1991
Honra y Cultura 1991
Super Éxitos 1992
The Best 1992
Willie Colón & Tito Puente 1993
Hecho en Puerto Rico 1993
The Best II 1994
Americano Latino 1995
Tras la Tormenta 1995
Y Vuelve Otra Vez!!! 1996
Demasiado Corazón 1998
El Rey del Trombón 1998
Mi Gran Amor 1999
Guerrero de Corazón 2000
Idilio 2002
La Experiencia 2004
Colección de Oro 2005
OG: Original Gangster 2006
The Player 2007
La Historia: The Hit List 2007
El Malo Vol II: Prisioneros del Mambo 2008
Asalto Navideño Live/En Vivo 2008
La Esencia de la Fania 2008
Historia de la Salsa 2010
Selecciones Fania 2011
Serie Premium: Sólo Éxitos 2013

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Google Image Result". Google.com. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  2. ^ a b Jubilee 2000
  3. ^ a b "Hugo Chávez ahora se enfrenta a Willie Colón". Elespectador.Com. 2010-09-07. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  4. ^ Hollander, Kurt (1994-09-20). The Rhythms: Portable Lower East Side. Books.google.com. ISBN 978-0-8021-3408-0. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  5. ^ Izzy Sanabria. "The Hector LaVoe Story by Izzy Sanabria". Salsamagazine.com. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  6. ^ "Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute". Chci.org. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  7. ^ "LMEC Commissioners – Latin Media and Entertainment Commission". Home2.nyc.gov. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  8. ^ "ASCAP Board". Ascap.com. 2006-04-01. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Flores, Juan (Fall 2004). "Creolité in the 'Hood: Diaspora as Source and Challenge" (PDF). Centro. 16 (2): 282–293. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  10. ^ "Traigo la Salsa". YouTube. 2006-11-26. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  11. ^ "Rubén Blades". IMDb.bom. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  12. ^ a b "english section". WillieColon.com. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  13. ^ González, Lisa Sánchez (April 1999). "Reclaiming Salsa". Cultural Studies. 13 (2): 237–250. doi:10.1080/095023899335266. 
  14. ^ "Gotham Gazette". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  15. ^ [1][dead link]
  16. ^ "Descarga.com". Descarga.com. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  17. ^ "Association of Hispanic Arts". Latinoarts.org. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  18. ^ "Association of Hispanic Arts on NYC GOV Website". Home2.nyc.gov. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  19. ^ "LMEC Commissioner Willie Colon". Home2.nyc.gov. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  20. ^ Willie Colón Endorses Hillary Clinton for President Archived April 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ "download page". WillieColon.com. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  22. ^ "Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association". Whlea.com. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  23. ^ waccolon. "President Clinton Congratulates Willie Colón & Sheriff George Longworth". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  24. ^ Natán Skigin (2013-04-14). "Mentira Fresca, el hit de Willie Colón a Maduro - América". America.infobae.com. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  25. ^ "Pol_ava_liberan Al Periodist_06A4141611 - 2010" (in Spanish). El Universal. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  26. ^ "Willie Colón – News Blog » Blog Archive » FREED POLITICAL PRISONER GENERAL ANTONIO RIVERO THANKS WILLIE COLÓN – YouTube". Williecolon.com. 2013-05-23. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 

External links[edit]