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Biography

Frankie Ruiz (March 10, 1958-August 9, 1998 born in Paterson, New Jersey) was a well known singer of salsa music.

Ruiz, whose birth name was Jose Antonio Torresola Ruiz, was born and raised in New Jersey. His parents moved from Puerto Rico to the United States in search of a better way of life. In Paterson, Ruiz received his primary and secondary education. As a child he enjoyed singing to the tunes of salsa and as a young man joined a local band called The Charlie Lopez Orchestra. With this band he recorded his first song Salsa Buena (Good Salsa). In 1976, Ruiz moved to Mayagüez, Puerto Rico with his mother after his parents divorced.

In Puerto Rico, Ruiz became a fan of a salsa band called La Solucion, directed by Roberto Rivera and learned all of their songs. He attended every concert and show. On one occasion, Ruiz's mother asked Rivera to give her son an opportunity to sing in the band, but to no avail. However, as fate would have it, in 1977, Ruiz was present at one of their shows where the lead singer did not show up. Rivera felt that he had no other choice but to give Ruiz a try. He was a success and was hired by Rivera. With La Solucion, Ruiz re-recorded a new version of Salsa Buena. He performed with the band for three years.

In 1980, Ruiz joined Tommy Olivencia and his Primerisima Orchestra. His youth and style known as Sensual Salsa helped to bring in a new generation of salsa followers. His first major "hit" was Lo Dudo (I doubt it). In 1983, Ruiz decided to go "solo" and had hits with No Que No, Mi Libertad (My Liberty) and Desnudate Mujer (Undress Woman). He traveled extensively throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States performing and always used the phrase "Vaya, mi China" (Go, Bany) as his trademark.

Ruiz began to use illegal drugs and became an alcoholic. During a flight after one of his concerts he attacked a flight attendant. He was arrested and sentenced to serve a three year jail term for the assault at the federal penitentiary in Jacksonville, Texas.

Frankie Ruiz suffered an attack on July 11, 1998 after performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City and was hospitalized. On August 9, 1998, Ruiz died from complications of liver cirrhosis. Before being buried his body was taken to Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, for a memorial service. He is buried at Fair Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Bergen County, New Jersey. Back in Mayaguez the local municipality named an open auditorium next to the "Palacio Municipal de Recreación y Deportes" (the local sports arena) in Ruiz's name.

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