The 80th of Roberto Roena


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Salsa and Latin music legend Roberto Roena turned 80 years old this month, so here are some highlights of Mr. Bongo.

The Legend of Roberto Roena

Ten years ago I wrote a 2-blog series following the musical career of Roberto Roena. It was celebrating his 70th birthday. An interesting fact is that Roena was only 16 years old when he joined Cortijo y su Combo. (Note: I think he Roberto Roean was actually 15, since Cortijo hired him as his original bongo player when the group formed in 1955).

In “The Legend of Roberto Roena, Part 1” I go into his beginnings, including adding a video interview of him talking about that part of his career. The blog covers from his years in Cortijo, to his entry in El Gran Combo, all the way to forming the Apollo Sound.

Roberto Roena with cowbell
Roberto Roena has had a long and distinguished career in Salsa music.

Another interesting music trivia; although the meeting to form El Gran Combo occurred at his mother’s house, he didn’t join El Gran Combo at first in loyalty to Cortijo. Only when Cortijo decide to remain in New York, did Roberto consider other options, and it happens the new bongo player for El Gran Combo didn’t work out. So Roena got the job.

In “The Legend of Roberto Roena, Part 2” I focused on his accomplishments with his Apollo Sound. There’s a lot to cover there. Obviously, I include a few video of the music of that time.

3 Albums That Immortalized the Apollo Sound

Albums numbers 6, 7, & 8 cemented the Apollo Sound as one of the all-time favorite bands in Salsa music. In the blog (Roberto Roena, 3 Albums That Immortalized the Apollo Sound) I do a deep dive on these masterpieces, videos and all.

For those Salsa lover who like the Salsa music of the 70’s and 80’s, these albums are a must!

Apollo Sound 50th Anniversary

Last year the Apollo Sound celebrated their 50th anniversary. This blog (Roberto Roena’s Apollo Sound 50th Anniversary) reflects on Roberto Roena’s band legacy for Latin music.

A Salsa Music Legend

Because of his early start at such a young age, Roberto Roena seems to have been around forever. At 80 he continues to perform with his Apollo Sound.

We hope like Rafael Ithier, he lives well into his 90’s. Happy Birthday Señor Bongo.

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1 Comment
  1. […] Eddie Perez would raise a leg, lean backward, and shake his shoulders while playing the sax, Roberto Roena and later Mike Ramos would be doing the most amazing choreography with Andy and Pellin. The music […]

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