PBS’s excellent 4-hour documentary – Latin Music USA – did a wonderful job of pointing out just how little I knew about Latin American music and its history. Thanks to Will Hermes and his sweeping new history of the NYC music scene during a crucial 5-year period, 1973-1977, I have an even better appreciation for how the city’s rich fusion of Latin cultures – Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican and Columbian – created an exciting new popular dance music, salsa (on August 26, 1971 at NYC’s Cheetah Club, to be precise).
I am a little embarrassed to admit that my recent purchase of a 1976 Ronco hits LP, Sound Explosion, resulted in my first and only recording (though certainly not last) on legendary salsa label, Fania – Ray Barretto’s “Guarare” from his 1975 album, Barretto:
“Guarare” Ray Barretto 1975
First Latin Crossover Pop Song?
In 1961 Ray Barretto recorded “El Watusi” – a Top 20 hit and the first Latin song (according to thousands of web pages, although I find this hard to believe) to enter the Billboard charts. You can find this tune on Barretto’s 1962 Tico album, Charanga Moderna.