William Anthony Colón Román (born April 28, 1950) is an American salsa musician and social activist. He began his career as a trombonist and also sings, writes, produces and acts. He is also involved in the politics of New York City.
|Birth name||William Anthony Colón Román|
|Born||April 28, 1950|
|Origin||New York City, U.S.|
Colón was born in the South Bronx in New York City to Puerto Rican parents. He picked up the trumpet from a young age, and later switched to trombone, inspired by the all-trombone sound of Mon Rivera and Barry Rogers. He spent some summers at his maternal grandmother's sister's farm in the outskirts of Manatí, Puerto Rico on the road to neighboring Ciales, Puerto Rico.
At the age of 15, he was signed to Fania Records, and at 17, he recorded his first album, which ultimately sold more than 300,000 copies. The main record producer at Fania at the time, Johnny Pacheco, recommended Héctor Lavoe to him.
Colón has been a civil rights, community, and political activist since the age of 16. He has served as a member of the Latino Commission on AIDS and President of the Arthur Schomburg Coalition for a Better New York, member of the Board of Directors of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. In 1995, Mr. Colón became the first person of color to serve on the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) national board, replacing Stephen Sondheim, and was also a member of the ASCAP Foundation.
Beyond the trombone, he has also worked as a composer, arranger, and singer, and eventually as a producer and director. Combining elements of jazz, rock, and salsa, his work incorporates the rhythms of traditional music from African descendants in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Brazil, representing mostly a one-way flow from Puerto Rico to the New York-based diaspora. "His life and music commute back and forth between his home turf in the Bronx and his ancestral Puerto Rico, with more than casual stop-offs in other musical zones of the Caribbean." Colón "makes the relation between diaspora and Caribbean homeland the central theme of his work," particularly in his 1971 Christmas album, Asalto Navideño. The lyrics and music of the songs on this album "enact the diaspora addressing the island culture in a complex, loving but at the same time mildly challenging way."
He went on to have many successful collaborations with other salsa musicians and singers, such as Ismael Miranda, Celia Cruz, Soledad Bravo, and singer-songwriter Rubén Blades. On his website, Colón claims to hold the "all time record for sales in the Salsa genre, [having] created 40 productions that have sold more than thirty million records worldwide."
One significant overarching theme in Colón's music, which draws from many cultures and several different styles, is an exploration of the competing associations that Puerto Ricans have with their home and with the United States. He uses his songs to depict and investigate the problems of living in the United States mainland as a Puerto Rican, and also to imply the cultural contributions that Puerto Ricans have to offer.
In May 2007, Colón sued Ruben Blades for breach of contract. This led to a series of suits and countersuits that lasted over five years. A book titled "Decisiones" detailing the inside story of the legal battle was written by Blades' former agent, Robert J. Morgalo, and published in 2016 in both English and Spanish website. The court documents can be read here and full transcripts of depositions and court rulings can be seen here
Colón released two singles, "Amor de Internet" and "Corazón Partido", to promote for his album El Malo Vol II: Prisioneros del Mambo. In 2016, Colón began his 50th Anniversary Tour. In 2017, Colón announced his upcoming book titled Barrio de Guapos (The Secret Life of Willie Colón) and the launching of his record label Willie Colon Presents. For 2018 Colón kicked off his "Rumba Del Siglo" (Jam of the Century) World Tour performing in U.S., Latin America and Europe to mostly sold-out venues. Because of the great success of his last tour, Colón will continue "Rumba Del Siglo 2019" (Jam of the Century 2019).
On April 25, 2010, Colón appeared at The National Mall for The Earth Day Climate Rally, along with Sting, John Legend, The Roots, Jimmy Cliff, Passion Pit, Bob Weir, Joss Stone, Robert Randolph, Patrick Stump, Mavis Staples, Booker T, Honor Society and Tao Rodríguez-Seeger.
In 2012 and 2013, Colón campaigned against Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and the left-wing Bolivarian Revolution. Chávez responded scathingly to Colón via Twitter. After Chávez' death, Willie Colón endorsed opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, vigorously using social media and composing a campaign theme, "Mentira Fresca" (or "fresh lies", which became the nickname of regime's candidate, Nicolás Maduro); the song went viral throughout Latin America, garnering millions of plays and downloads. Colón continued to be active in Venezuelan politics, having pressed for the release of journalist Leocenis García, and the release of political prisoner General Antonio Rivero.
On May 26, 2014, after graduating from Westchester County Police Academy, Colón was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff for the Department of Public Safety. On December 13, 2017, Colón became a Deputy Lieutenant.
Awards and honorsEdit
In 1999, Colón was a member of the Jubilee 2000 delegation to the Vatican, along with Randolph Robinson of Trans Africa, Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs, Bono from U2 and Quincy Jones. This initiative received Pope John Paul II's endorsement and later prompted President Clinton to forgive the US portion of the debt owed by some developing countries. Jubilee 2000 resulted in the forgiveness of a total of $100 billion to debt-ridden countries.
In September 2004, Colón received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Latin Recording Academy. Over the course of his career, he has collaborated with notable musicians such as the Fania All-Stars, Héctor Lavoe, Rubén Blades, David Byrne, and Celia Cruz. Siembra, his record with Rubén Blades, was the best selling album for its genre. Colón was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019.
In 2006, Colón was portrayed by actor John Ortiz, along with Mark Anthony's Héctor Lavoe in the biopic El Cantante, also starring Jennifer Lopez. The movie is about the life of Héctor Lavoe and it covers his achievements with Colón as the top salsa duo from the 1960s through the mid-1970s.
In 2010, The "International Trombone Association" bestowed their Lifetime Achievement Award upon Colón. In their journal they went on to say, "Willie Colón has probably done more than anyone since Tommy Dorsey to keep the trombone before the public. Stylistically they are poles apart, Dorsey representing an ultra-smooth approach, Colón a Hard-edged roughness reportedly inspired by Barry Rogers. Unfortunately, Colón's public is largely Latino, so his music and contribution have gone unnoticed or ignored by the general press"- Gerald Sloan, professor of music University of Arkansas.
On October 7, 2011, Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association recognized Colón for his social and community activism and support.
In 2015 Billboard magazine named Willie Colón one of the 30 most influential Latin Artists of All Time.
On May 12, 2018, The Ellis Island Honor Society awarded Willie Colón the Ellis Island Medal of Honor which are presented annually to a select group of individuals whose accomplishments in their field and inspired service to the nation are cause for celebration. The Medal has been officially recognized by both Houses of Congress as one of our nation's most prestigious awards and is annually memorialized in the Congressional Record.
On October 31, 2018, Willie Colón was awarded the "Lunas Del Auditorio Award" by El Auditorio Nacional.A recognition granted by the National Auditorium to the best live shows in Mexico, the award is a replica of the sculpture of La Luna by sculptor Juan Soriano that is outside that enclosure. This award is transmitted by Televisa, TV Azteca, Channel 22 of the Ministry of Culture and Channel Eleven of the National Polytechnic Institute.
Willie Colon is married. On April 20, 2021, Colón and his wife, Julia Colón were involved in a serious vehicle accident while driving a recreational vehicle through the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Colón suffered lacerations and a head injury and was evacuated to a hospital in Virginia.
|El Malo||Jerry Masucci
|The Hustler||Jerry Masucci
|Cosa Nuestra||Willie Colón||Fania||1970|
|Asalto Navideño||Willie Colón||Fania||1971|
|La Gran Fuga||Willie Colón||Fania||1971|
|El Juicio||Willie Colón||Fania||1972|
|Asalto Navideño Vol. ll||Willie Colón||Fania||1972|
|Lo Mato||Willie Colón||Fania||1973|
|Se Chavó el Vecindario!||Willie Colón||Vaya||1975|
|The Good, The Bad, The Ugly||Willie Colón||Fania||1975|
|Metiendo Mano!||Willie Colón||Fania||1977|
|El Baquiné de Angelitos Negros||Willie Colón||Fania||1977|
|Sólo Ellos Pudieron Hacer Este Álbum||Willie Colón||Fania||1977|
|Doble Energía||Willie Colón||Fania||1980|
|Canciones del Solar de los Aburridos||Willie Colón||Fania||1981|
|Celia & Willie||Willie Colón||Fania||1981|
|Corazón Guerrero||Willie Colón||Fania||1982|
|The Last Fight||Willie Colón||Fania||1982|
|Su Vida Musical: 14 Éxitos Originales||Fania||1982|
|Tiempo Pa' Matar||Willie Colón||Fania||1984|
|Contrabando Especial N°5||Willie Colón||1985|
|Quién Eres||Willie Colón||1986|
|The Winners||Willie Colón||Fania||1987|
|Top Secrets||Willie Colón||WAC Productions||1989|
|Color Americano||Willie Colón||Sony||1990|
|Grandes Éxitos Vol. 2||Sony||1991|
|Honra y Cultura||Willie Colón||Sony||1991|
|Willie Colón & Tito Puente||Fania||1993|
|Hecho en Puerto Rico||Willie Colón, Cuco Peña||Sony||1993|
|The Best II||Sony||1994|
|Americano Latino||Willie Colón||Sony||1995|
|Tras La Tormenta||Willie Colón, Rubén Blades||Sony||1995|
|Y Vuelve Otra Vez!!!||Willie Colón||Fonovisa||1996|
|Demasiado Corazón||Willie Colón||Azteca||1998|
|El Rey del Trombón||1998|
|Mi Gran Amor||Sony||1999|
|Guerrero de Corazón||2000|
|Colección de Oro||2005|
|OG: Original Gangster||2006|
|La Historia: The Hit List||2007|
|El Malo Vol II: Prisioneros del Mambo||Willie Colón||Lone Wolf||2008|
|Asalto Navideño Live/En Vivo||Lone Wolf||2008|
|La Esencia de la Fania||2008|
|Historia de la Salsa||2010|
|Serie Premium: Sólo Éxitos||2013|
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- [dead link]
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- "Willie Colón y su esposa sufren accidente en Carolina del Norte: lo reportan "grave pero estable"". CNN (in Spanish). April 26, 2021. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
- "¡Willie Colón y su esposa sufren gravísimo accidente automovilístico!". People en Español (in Spanish). April 25, 2021. Retrieved April 26, 2021.