We may have seen the last of Hector Lavoe but the memory of the iconic king of salsa remains evergreen in the hearts of his admirers scattered across the globe. Lavoe, also known as El Cantante de Los Cantantes (The Singer of Singers), went down in history as one of the very best salsa musicians who projected Latin music and salsa to the rest of the world. He started from the 60s to mesmerize his fans with his unique style of music.
Hector headed to the evening of his days in the late 80s when he started suffering depression and addiction which were all worsened by a diagnosis of HIV. Here’s everything you need to know about the life and death of the iconic salsa singer.
Hector Lavoe’s Biography
He was born Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez on September 30, 1946, to his parents; Francisca (Pachita) Martínez and Luis Pérez, in Ponce, Puerto Rico. It was indeed a matter of heredity for the singer who grew up in a family of musically inclined people. His father was very good with the guitar and his mother was known for her unique singing voice. Hector toed the line of his parents and made a career out of his passion for music. He attended Juan Morel Campos Public School of Music where his inclination to music continued to develop. Influenced by Jesús Sánchez Erazo and Daniel Santos, he soon quit school and set his sail towards a singing career.
In 1963, he moved to New York City and started out as the vocalist of a sextet formed by Roberto Garcia. He was 17 at the time and collaborated with music groups like Orquesta New York, Kako All-Stars, and Johnny Pacheco who co-owned Fania Records. Hector came in contact with Willie Colon, a salsa musician in 1967. After several talks with Willie, Lavoe was recorded on a track of Colon’s first album El Malo. Lavoe’s voice and carriage were indeed the best and Colon held on to the precious gift he had received – Lavoe.
The album was finally released and it was a huge commercial success that shot both Colon and Lavoe to prominence and pushed them to great financial heights too. They both counted in millions following the success of the album. The two embarked on several tours promoting the album and subsequent ones that immediately followed.
In 1973 Lavoe went solo and led his own band and started touring with the band, performing their own songs. He recorded songs like “El Cantante”, “Bandolera” and “El periódico de Ayer” and many others in his solo career. During this time, he also performed as an invited vocalist in the Fania All-Stars and recorded many songs with them.
In the late 70s, Hector got caught up in severe depression and resorted to drugs. His addiction grew worse as the years went by and Lavoe sought assistance from a priest to help with his drug addiction.
He got into rehab and was responding to therapy until he was hit by devastating developments of the deaths of his son, mother, and father-in-law and a diagnosis of HIV. This caused Lavoe to go back to his old ways of drugs. He was depressed to the extent of attempting suicide.
Lavoe recorded an album during this time although his health was already deteriorating. The singer’s last performances were in 1990 when he sang with the Fania All-Stars in New Jersey, and in 1992, at the club S.O.B.’s in New York. He died at the age of 46 on June 29, 1993, after a complication from AIDS.
His Net Worth
There have been discrepancies in reports regarding the net worth of El Cantante de los Cantantes. It is quite expected, owing to the fact that he died many years ago. While many sources have estimated his net worth to be $1 million, Hector Lavoe made so much more during his active days. However, there have been no evident materials to confirm that.
Family – Wife, Sons, Daughter
Hector Lavoe would have been around to protect his wife if he were alive. At the time of his death in 1993, he was married to Nilda Puchi Lavoe. Nilda lost her life to the cold hands of death in 2002, nine years after the death of her husband. While filming a documentary ‘El Cantante’ on her late husband Nilda tragically slipped from her 14th story window, fell to the ground, and died, having suffered severe head trauma.
Hector and Nilda shared a son, Hector Jr. together. Hector Jr also died in 1969 after he was mistakenly shot by his father’s friend. Lavoe was a stepfather to Nilda’s daughter Leslie.