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Rock in Puerto Rico has been a product of direct and indirect influence from both American rock music and Latin rock music, and its fusion with other genres. Throughout history, the genre has suffered ups and downs having a significant peak in the 1990s. Here's a breakdown of how rock evolved in the island through the decades.
The 1950s mark the introduction of the Rock and Roll genre on the island. With the Elvis Presley hype in the United States, some of its influence reached the island of Puerto Rico. While a few young rock groups were in existence, like "The Rockingchairs" and "The Bonets" (original group where José (Cuco) Gonzalez started as Drummer before joining The Sunsets, along with Rafy, Paquito, Cusin and Carlos J), television producer Alfred D. Herger started bringing Rock and Roll acts into the island motivating the local audience to embrace it. This input, and Herger's tutelage, ignited some young artists like Aidita Viles, Chucho Avellanet and others to start a movement that was labeled as "La Nueva Ola" (The New Wave). Herger also led several television night shows where he showcased rock music from the island and the USA.
In the mid to late 1960s, several Puerto Rican bands started surfacing with some mainstream success. Most of these performed in English. Some of these were:
Wiso Velez Bass, Rafi Marquez Lead Guitar, Alex Rodriguez Guitar/Vocals, Jose Guzman Hammond Organ, Jose L Kerkado Drums, Moreno Habbif Vocals. Special mention of Hernan Cortes on congas.
Wiso Velez Bass Puruco Cestero Lead Guitar/Vocals, Jaime Frank Drums/Vocals,Papote Cestero Vocals, Jose Guzman Miro Hammond Organ. 1966/1967.
While most of the above groups centered their appearances at private activities at the local centers like the STAR and PARADISE bowling centers, few were able to play at public night clubs and bars and TV, with appearances at the Mirta Silva night show and other local TV variety programs (The Bonets, The Sunsets, etc.). Later on, with the management of Alfred D. Herger, locations like The Miramar Center and the TV program, Teen Time, and the performance of groups like The Sunsets and The Challengers, rock era in Puerto Rico moved towards the 1970s. Even a movie appearing The Sunsets, Virgenes de La Nueva Ola, was a classic back then.
In the early 1970s, other bands like Bandolero, and La Banda del K-Rajo had some underground success. Later that decade, a number of bands emerged from San Juan area bars like Shannan's Pub and Donna Faye's. The most popular bands at this time where Taíno, Pelican in Flight, Spoiler, Albatross, East Side Band, and many others.
At the same time, a movement of nova trova musicians was growing in the island led by singers like Roy Brown and Noel Hernández. During this time, the local radio station Alfa Rock starts broadcasting rock music in the island.
With the arrival of stations like MTV, American rock reached the island. However, surging rock en español bands from Mexico, Argentina and Spain are rarely heard of. Most of the local bands still used English as their language. Some of the bands that surfaced through this decade were:
However, there were still a few bands that preferred to sing in Spanish like: Virus, Kantares and Belaris. Artists of other genres like Menudo, Wilkins and Glenn Monroig started fusing their music (pop/ballads) with rock. This decade also started the ongoing "battle" between "Cocolos" (people that listen to salsa) and "rockeros" (people that listen to Rock music). The introduction of new wave and Europop in the USA started the surging of similar bands like Words Four Two, No You Turn, NeoEngland, and Nirvana (not the Kurt Cobain band). In 1988, a pop-rock band called Top Banana was signed by national label CBS. In 2004 Underground Dead World Productions / Record Label Founded By (1982 Joy Circuit) Henry Roy.
During this decade, rock music reached its peak in the island. Rock en Español fully reached the island, and artists like Miguel Mateos, Charly García, Soda Stereo, Hombres G, Robi Draco Rosa and others were heard in radio stations. Mattador released the first instance of their album Save Us From Ourselves with guitarist Ramón Ortiz, who would later go on to play with Puya (previously known as Whisker Biscuit). The band even opened the Iron Maiden concert at the island. On January 4, 1990, John Rodriguez aka. MetalKid, a radio personality launched the first radio program to cater only Puerto Rican artists at La Mega Station 106 FM along with Edgardo "El Bebo" Adames; giving the opportunity to dozens of acts play their music on the radio. Later that year MetalKid created Brutal Noise Music, the first record label to include metal music on their roster. Bands like Crypta, Homicide, Morbid Death, Deathkross and the Christian act Deathless among others were the first metal releases to be available under Brutal Noise. Brutal Noise joined forces with local promoter Albert Morales from ShowNet and produced concerts like Iron Maiden, Pantera, Sepultura, Slayer making the way to promote local acts on their shows. Until today this tradition still alive. In 1994, former Menudo singer Robi Rosa released his first solo album, and Mattador re-released their album, this time with Tito Rodríguez (now with Sol D'Menta) as guitarist. La Secta Allstar is the most commercially successful rock band in Puerto Rico, selling over 250,000 copies from their last album Consejo and reaching platinum since their debut in Puerto Rican charts in 1998.
The 90's saw also the first video from a local band in MTV Latino. It was for the song "Terminal" by La Mosca, aka Spanish Fly and Spanish Flies. The band was a power trio composed of Geronimo Mercado, Eduardo Paniagua & Gaby Vidal. Eduardo would later go to Puya & Gaby Vidal to ONGO. Steve Vai used the band as his backing band when he came to Puerto Rico for a guitar clinic at Villa Piano. When Draco came to the island for his three show at The Warehouse, La Mosca was chosen to open them all.
This decade sparked the biggest spurt of local bands. Some of the most popular were:
These bands started to enjoy great success presenting to huge crowds at their concerts. Sol D'Menta was even signed to an international label, being the first heavy band to sign with a multinational label (Polygram). Later in 2003, they received an ASCAP award "Best Independent Rock Band". In 1996, Fiel A La Vega released its eponymous debut album reaching gold status becoming a phenomenon in the island due to their acceptance. Their success forced the local media to open more space for the rock scene in the island. The band continued their success with another gold album with their second album, and selling out four shows at the Centro de Bellas Artes, and later selling out the Roberto Clemente Coliseum. Other bands like Puya and La Secta Allstar have reached similar success. In 2016 Vengeance Music Productions / Record Label Founded by (Bajo Presión) Noel Alvarez.
In the early year of 2004 Underground Dead World Productions / Record Label Founded By Henry Roy, Emerges Helping Local Bands to get there Successful Music Career to the Mainstream. This decade saw growth on the island in regards to the rock genre as a whole, with new bands and existing bands experimenting with such genres such as rock, heavy metal, punk and soft rock while adding their own distinct Latin flavor to these traditionally North American and European types of music. :
These bands started to enjoy great success presenting to huge crowds at their concerts A lot Of Different Talents to Perform Global, Local, National & Internanional. Having Multiple Culture of People Enjoying The Different Sounds of The Island. Their success forced the local media to open more space for the rock scene in the island. In 2014 Cadaveric Asphyxiation got Signed by International Record Label in the island Underground Dead World Records. In 2016 Another Record Label from the island emerges Vengeance Music by Noel Alvarez. Cold Times got Signed by DIY. Early 2017 Basement Royalty got signed by From The Depths Entertainment. In 2018 Irrational Thought, Light The Path & Cursed By Arrogance got signed by Vengeance Music.