Father’s Day Special: Jerry Rivas and Gerardo Rivas

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Jerry Rivas and his son Gerardo Rivas are two very known singers in the Salsa scene. This 2018 Latino Music Café edition of Father’s Day Special is dedicated to these Puerto Rican singers.

Jerry Rivas: 40 Years with El Gran Combo

Jerry has been one of the main singers with El Gran Combo for over 40 years. Along with Charlie Aponte, they have been the singers with the longest stay in El Gran Combo. This means that when Jerry retires from El Gran Combo, he will be missed for the many hits he has sang during all these years.

Jerry Rivas in backcover of El Gran Combo "En Las Vegas".
Jerry Rivas 1st album photo was the backcover of El Gran Combo “En Las Vegas”, his 2nd album with the band.

When Jerry Rivas started with El Gran Combo in 1977, he was still young and raw. Per Jerry’s own admission, there was a time he felt he wasn’t good enough to replace Andy Montañez. But he kept at it, mostly because of the support he received from the band, especially from singer Charlie Aponte and bandleader Rafael Ithier.

“El Menu” was the Salsa hit song that finally made Jerry Rivas feel at ease in El Gran Combo. He had other hits before this one. “La Clave y El Bongo”, and “Que Falta de Respeto” became popular. But “El Menu” elevated his confidence to the next level.

Jerry Rivas has always had a bit of a course baritone voice. This made a great match to Charlie Aponte’s higher tenor-like voice. It was great to hear them in duos. Despite not having an extraordinary voice, Jerry has a keen sense for singing Salsa. He complements that with a unique style and effective street-smart “soneos”. The result has been numerous Salsa hits with El Gran Combo.

If you’re a Gran Combo fan, you’ve probably seen the below video of Jerry’s debut with El Gran Combo.

Gerardo Rivas and NG2

Following his Father’s musical instincts, Gerardo Rivas went into music from an early age. He formed (I’m sure with a little help from his dad) the band Gerardito y sus Rockolos. Gerardo was 10 years old, and his bandmates were of about the same age. They certainly looked cute. But also sounded surprisingly well.

Gerardo Rivas in cover of Gerardito y sus Rockolos.
Gerardo Rivas began early his recording career with Gerardito y Sus Rockolos.

Don’t be fooled by the name, the group played a little of everything, which included good Salsa songs.

Gerardo became the spokesman (or spokes-kid) of Arroz Rico. During his late teen years, he joined the band of Salsa Romantica raising star singer Victor Manuelle. There he met Norberto Velez. After a few years with Victor Manuelle, they both formed a band together, which the called NG2.

“Comienzos”, released in 2004, was the title of NG2’s debut album. The new Salsa band immediately began getting accolades for their great sound and fresh style. Since then, NG2 has released 4 other albums. The latest, “Conceptos”, was just released this year. However, singles of the album have been released since 2016, with “Aqui Estoy”.

Below is the latest single “Secretos”, with features cuatro player Edwin Colon Zayas.

Calle Jerry Rivas

Last year, just before hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico, the city of Bayamon dedicated a street in honor of Jerry Rivas. Jerry grew up in that neighborhood, and the city’s mayor paid homage to Jerry to celebrate his 40 years with El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico.

Note: you can read a 7-part blog series on the History of El Gran Combo starting HERE.

Gerardo Rivas Interviews Jerry Rivas

I found this recent interview which Gerardo did to his father in a very cozy and informal way in a house balcony. There a lot of good details that Gerardo gets out of his father. This is probably because he knows intimately well the story of his father’s life, and knows the right questions to ask.

Is a good listen, and done in a very nice way between father and son. I hope you enjoy it.

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