Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

(b Pedro Juan Rodríguez, 31 January c.1935, Ponce, Puerto Rico) Noble-looking sonero (improvising salsa singer) with a distinctive smoky voice; nicknamed El Conde ('The Count'). Performed with local groups in Ponce; moved to NY, there recruited by Johnny Pacheco to sing on his Pacheco y su Charanga Vol. IV -- 'Suav'ito' c'63 on Alegre, inaugural Fania release Cañonazo '64 and Pacheco at the N.Y. World's Fair '64; departed to provide lead vocals on Swing '66 by Conjunto Sensación led by Cuban Rey Roig. Returned to Pacheco for Pacheco y su Charanga -- By Popular Demand '66; the duo made five more albums together '67-73 including their finest Tres de Café y Dos de Azúcar '73. El Conde left to go solo, made a series of albums on Fania retaining the typical Cuban two-trumpet conjunto format used by Pacheco: the best-seller El Conde '74 was directed by Pacheco (the LP helped him win Latin NY 'Best New Band' award '75), Este Negro Si Es Sabroso '76 included hits 'Pueblo Latino' ('Latin People') penned by C. Curet Alonso and Johnny Ortiz's 'Catalina La O', both arranged by José Febles, A Touch Of Class '78 included 'Tambo' written by Rubén Blades, arranged by Febles, Soy La Ley '79, Fiesta Con 'El Conde' '82 produced and arranged by Febles. He and Pacheco reunited for four albums '83-9 including the Grammy-nominated Salsobita '87 and 25th anniversary release Celebración '89; went solo again with Fania finale El Rey '90 produced and directed by Pacheco. El Conde broke out of the two-trumpet conjunto mould in favour of a salsa orquesta lineup of three trombones, two trumpets and alto sax, tres guitar, rhythm section and voices (including his son Pete Emilio Rodríguez and daughter Cita Rodríguez singing chorus and sharing lead vocals) for the refreshing Generaciones '93 on Marcas, with Isidro Infante on keyboards, producing and directing and most of the arranging. He shared lead vocals with Junior González, Melcochita, Ray de la Paz and Carlos Santos on Gozando! '96 on Asefra by Mascara Salsera's Gold Stars; teamed with Papo Lucca for Pete y Papo '96 on Fania covering songs from Romance '91 by Mexican singer Luis Miguel. He also performed and recorded with the Fania All Stars from their inception, also with Larry Harlow (Hommy -- A Latin Opera '73), Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, others.