Master Willy Rosario celebrates 99 springs today

One of salsa’s iconic figures is celebrating today, Saturday.

Mr. Known as Afink, Fernando Luis “Willy” Rosario Marin celebrates his 99th birthday today without mentioning that he wants to get off the stage.

His fellow musician, Bobby Valentine, a teacher and friend, remembered the important date through social networks.

Today is a very important day for salsa singers and colleagues, because Willy Rosario is “Mr. Tune In” in the arts. We thank God for all these years of life. “Willy is a great man and an example to all musicians and orchestra directors around the world,” Valentin wrote on his Facebook account.

“I am grateful for the opportunity he gave me when I started in New York City. Willie is a part of my family. I thank God for having Willie with us in this everyday life and entertaining us with his great music. Greetings, health and blessings. May God bless you abundantly and give you long life.” The legendary bassist added.

Rosario was born on May 6, 1924 in Como. He began his inspiration in music from an early age in 1937, through bands led by Rafael Muñoz and the Puerto Rico Sextet, in which he followed rhythm at the age of seven.


In 1952, after completing his military service, he returned to Puerto Rico, where he joined the band Fiesta as a drummer, replacing Mon Rivera. In 1956, he made his recording debut with the Johnny Segui Band, an album titled “Chachacha”. After the disbandment of Johnny Seguin’s band in 1958, Rosario formed his first band, consisting mostly of musicians from Maestro Seguin’s band, for which he enlisted the cooperation of maestro Tito Rodríguez and Tito Puente.

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After forming a second group, Willy Rosario and his band recorded their first album in 1963 titled “El Bravo Choi Yo”. That was the start of a prolific career in which he left behind more than 40 recorded productions heard around the world.

High-profile singers such as Gilberto Sandorosa, Tony Vega and Samako Rivera have passed through his band, as well as musicians of the stature of Bobby Valentine, Humberto Ramirez and Jimmy Morales.

The best-known group’s most recognized hits include “La Midat”, “Mi Amico El Payaso”, “El Callejero”, “Annuncio Classificado” and “Luvia”. Rosa and Tony Vega, among many more numbers.

His career has earned him various recognitions, such as being elevated to the Puerto Rico Hall of Fame in 1987 for producing “Nueva Cosecha” as the first Puerto Rican salsa band to be nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Tropical Performance. Rico, four gold records and two platinum.

Along the same lines, he received the Agüeybaná de Oro Award, ACE Award, Paoli Award and Estrella Award for his musical excellence presented by SBS Broadcasting.

After more than six decades of entertaining his own, Maestro Rosario still has “finishing.” In an interview with Primera Hora, the legendary percussionist made it clear that he has no intention of leaving the stage just yet.

“You have to pass the baton. Life is like that, and I’m very happy that there’s a lot of talent, a lot of young talent, because that way our music is heavier. But we’re still here, and I can’t find a baton to pass it”, he stressed.

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Gillian Patton

"Tv aficionado. Lifelong communicator. Travel ninja. Hardcore web buff. Typical music geek."

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