The Puerto Rican percussionist Roena roena, 81, an original member of the Combo de Rafel Cortijo, las Estrellas de Fania and founder of the Apollo Sound orchestra, passed away on Thursday night.
This was reported this Friday in a statement Andrés Waldemar, singer of the orchestra and spokesman for the family. “It has been a strong blow for their children, grandchildren, friends and family in general. Robert taught us many things, but he never prepared us for this ”, added.
“(The world of music is) dismayed, there is an emptiness and a mourning in the musical staff, which we cannot describe. The Apollo musicians are devastated. Robert Roena was not our boss, he was our dad “, added.
“(He was a) man of the people, he loved his people and respecting his will we will fire him. Puerto Rico will have the opportunity to pay him their respect by giving him the last goodbye and following all the health protocols established by the pandemic ” of Covid-19, he notes, Waldemar said.
Roeana was a bongo player and one of the most sought-after conductors of the salsa musical staff for more than 30 years. He began his musical career as a dancer in Puerto Rico, becoming known as “El Gran Bailarín”.
He was born on January 16, 1940 and took his first steps in the art of entertainment by setting up dance routines with his brother Francisco Roena in his hometown. At the age of nine, his family settled in Santurce, where the brothers continued to polish their mambo and cha-cha-chá routines, “Delighting the public attending talent contests”, according to the specialized page “Salsa con amor”.
This would lead to his hiring to appear weekly on the television program “La Taberna India” on Channel Two. During one of the recordings, percussionist Rafael Cortijo saw Roena in action.
Cortijo then visited Roberto’s parents in order to ask their permission to hire him, teach him to play bongo and bell, and take him to New York. This is how Roena stays for seven years with the Rafael Cortijo Combo alongside Ismael Rivera, and with the group, he toured the main stages of the United States, Europe and South America.
Due to certain internal problems, the Combo de Cortijo disintegrates and this causes some of the members of the group to separate from their leader and create the Great Combo.
In 1959, when Rafael Cortijo y su Combo switched to the Gema label, Roena participated in the recording of the albums: “Cortijo En New York” (1959), “Fiesta Boricua”, around 1960, “Bueno, Y Qué…? (1960), “Get off the Vía Perico” and “Danger”.
In 1962, Cortijo y su Combo after having won the “Momo de Oro” in the Caracas carnivals, they left for Panama where they also made a presentation but that year the Cortijo combo began to disintegrate, although Roena remained with his teacher although he ends up joining Mario Ortiz’s All Stars Band.
After five months, he was presented with the opportunity to join his former companions, who, led by Rafael Ithier, deserted the Combo de Cortijo in May 1962 to form El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, but left in mid-1969.