Richie Ray y Bobby Cruz


"EL EMBAJADOR DEL PIANO” - THE PIANO AMBASSADOR - RICHARD MALDONADO MORALES A/K/A
RICHIE RAY, WAS BORN IN BROOKLYN NEW YORK TO PUERTO RICAN PARENTS. HIS FATHER PACIFICO PLAYED THE GUITAR AND WAS RAY’S FIRST MUSICAL INFLUENCE. RAY STARTED PLAYING AND FORMALLY STUDYING THE PIANO AT THE AGE OF SEVEN. HE ATTENDED THE BROOKLYN CONSERAVTORY OF MUSIC, THE HIGH SCHOOL OF PERFORMING ARTS - MADE FAMOUS BY THE MOVIE “FAME” - AND THE WORLD RENOWNED JULLIARD SCHOOL OF MUSIC.

BOBBY CRUZ WAS BORN IN HORMIGUEROS, PUERTO RICO ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE ISLAND. HIS MOTHER, UPON BECOMING DIVORCED, RELOCATED TO BROOKLY N. Y. AND LATER SENT FOR BOBBY AND HIS YOUNGER SISTER. BOBBY ALWAYS LIKED MUSIC AND LEARNED TO PLAY GUITAR WITH HIS UNCLE. HE WAS GREATLY INFLUENCED BY THE MUSIC OF CORTIJO Y SU COMBO, TITO PUENTE AND
“EL GRAN COMBO DE PUERTO RICO”. BOBBY ATTENDED NATHAN HALE JUNIOR HIGH IN BROOKLYN AND IT WAS THERE THAT HE FIRST HEARD RICHIE PERFORMING A BEETHOVEN PIECE DURING SCHOOL ASSEMBLY. IMPRESSED BY WHAT HE HAD HEARD THIS NINE-YEAR-OLD DO AT THE PIANO, HE LATER ENTHUSIASTICALLY TOLD HIS MOM ABOUT IT. SHE IMMEDIATELY SAID, "THAT MUST BE CRISTINA’S SON, RICHIE". CRISTINA MALDONADO, RICHIES MOTHER, HAD WORKED AT A FACTORY TOGETHER WITH BOBBY’S MOM – AND THAT'S HOW RICHIE AND BOBBY MET.

BOBBY CRUZ HAS WRITTEN TWO BOOKS, “CUANDO ERA NINO” AND “IMPERFECTO YO”. HE IS A
MASTER SONG WRITER, AND WRITES MOST OF THE SONGS THEY RECORD.

RAY AND CRUZ STARTED WORKING TOGHETER WHEN RICHIE WAS ONLY TWELVE YEARS OLD. RICHIE’S BROTHER RAY MALDONADO PLAYED THE TRUMPET. AS YEARS PASSED EACH OF THEM WENT THEIR SEPARATE WAYS UNTIL NINETEEN SIXTY THREE WHEN RAY AND CRUZ TEAMED UP AGAIN. BOBBY HAD CONTINUED WORKING WITH HIS BAND, WHICH HAD BECOME KNOWN AS A GOOD GROUP TO OPEN FOR BIG NAME BANDS. ONE DAY BOBBY SHARED A VISION WITH RICHIE. HE SAID, " WITH WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT MUSIC AND WITH WHAT I HAVE LEARNED IN THE SHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS, I THINK THAT TOGHETHER WE CAN MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN”. THEY AGREED TO GIVE IT A TRY AND WENT OFF TO WORK AS A LATIN BAND IN THE NEW YORK CATSKILL MOUNTAIN RESORT HOTELS AS THEY PREPARED THEIR MUSIC AND PERFECTED THEIR IMAGE AS AN INTENSE, TIGHT-KNIT LATIN BAND. IN NINETEEN SIXTY FIVE THEY MADE THEIR FIRST RECORDING - "RICARDO RAY ARRIVES" ON FONSECA RECORDS.

RAY AND CRUZ, KNOWN AS "LOS REYES DE LA SALSA" - THE SALSA KINGS – ARE AMONG THE MOST INFLUENTIAL DUOS THAT HELPED TO FORM AND DEFINE THE BEGINNINGS OF “SALSA MUSIC”. TO DATE THEY HAVE RECORDED ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE ALBUMS AND ARE THE RECEPIENTS OF TWELVE GOLD RECORDS AND THREE GRAMMYS INCLUDING ONE FOR “LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT”. AMONG THEIR MANY HITS ARE: “LA ZAFRA” WHICH WON THEM THE TITTLE OF “LOS REYES DE LA SALSA”, “RICHIES JALA - JALA”,“AGUZATE”, “AMPARO ARREBATO” AND “SONIDO BESTIAL”.

IN 1974, AT THE HEIGHT OF THEIR POPULARITY, RAY SUDDENLY ANNOUNCED THAT HE HAD BECOME A BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN. CRUZ, WHO AT FIRST DISAGREED STRONGLY WITH RAY ON THIS ISSUE SUBSECUENTLY EMBRACED THE FAITH HIMSELF ONLY A FEW MONTHS LATER. A STEPPING ASIDE FROM THE VENUES OF POPULAR COMMERCIAL MUSIC FOLLOWED FOR CLOSE TO TWENTY YEARS, DURING WHICH TIME THEY CREATED A NEW TYPE OF SALSA MUSIC WHICH BECAME KNOWN AS " SALSA WITH A MESSAGE". IN THIS NEW STYLE THEY RECORDED MANY HITS SUCH AS, “JUAN EN LA CIUDAD”, “LOS FARISEOS”, “A SU NOMBRE GLORIA” AND OTHERS.

IN JUNE OF 2008, THE “DYNAMIC DUO” PRESENTED A MEMORABLE CONCERT AT THE “CENTRO
DE BELLAS ARTES” IN PUERTO RICO DURING THE CLOSE OF THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY
CELEBRATION OF THIS PRESTIGIOUS CONCERT VENUE. THE “TROPISOUNDS” RECORD LABEL
CAPTURED THIS HISTORICAL EVENT IN BOTH AUDIO AND VIDEO FORMATS FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF FANS AND FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. THEIR MOST RECENT AND PERHAPS GREATEST CONCERT OF ALL TIME WAS PRESENTED BY THE LEGENDARY DUO ON AUGUST 16, 2008 AT THE “COLISEO DE PUERTO RICO” IN CELEBRATION OF THEIR 45TH ANNIVERSARY IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. THIS EVENT HAS ALSO BEEN RECORDED FOR RELEASE ON VIDEO AS WELL AS AUDIO.

Richie Ray y Bobby Cruz

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