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Early years

Ángel Tomás "Tommy" Olivencia Pagán was born in the Villa Palmeras section of Santurce, Puerto Rico. His family moved to the city of Arecibo when he was just a child. He received his primary and secondary education in Arecibo. As a young man, he became fascinated with the trumpet and learned to play the musical instrument.

In 1954, Olivencia sang and played the trumpet for local bands. He graduated from high school in 1957 and his family relocated once again to Santurce.
Puertorrican Salsa DJ Yun Yun Echevarria interviews Tommy Olivencia (1980s)
Puertorrican Salsa DJ Yun Yun Echevarria interviews Tommy Olivencia (1980s)

La Primerisima Orchestra de Puerto Rico

In 1960, Olivencia organized his first orchestra, which he named "Tommy Olivencia y La Primerisima Orchestra de Puerto Rico". His band combined swing and melodic styles together. This combination plus a strong brass contingent in the band was his trademark. Olivencia signed a contract with Inca Records and remained with that label until 1978. In 1972, he had his first major "hit" with Secuestro (Kidnapped) and followed that hit with Juntos de Nuevo (Together Again) in 1974 and Plante Bandera in 1975.

Olivencia's band was also known as the "Tommy Olivencia School", because the band produced some of the best and most talented singers and musicians of salsa in the island. Among those to have belonged to the band at one time or another were: Chamaco Ramirez, Sammy "El Rolo" González, Simon Perez, Paquito Guzman, Ubaldo "Lalo" Rodriguez, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Marvin Santiago, Frankie Ruiz, Hector Tricoche, Carlos Alexis, Hector "Pichie" Perez, Paquito "Junior" Acosta and Mel Martínez.

Albums recordings
Tommy Olivencia (c. 1977)
Tommy Olivencia (c. 1977)

Among the albums recorded by Olivencia and his band are:

* Trucu-Tu
* La Nueva Sensacion Musical De Puerto Rico 1965
* Jala-Jala y Guaguancó 1966
* Fire Fire 1967
* A Toda Maquina 1968
* Cuero…Salsa y Sentimiento 1971
* Secuestro (Kidnapped) 1972
* Juntos de Nuevo (Together Again) 1974
* Planté Bandera 1975
* Introducing Lalo Rodríguez and Simón Pérez (1976)
* El Negro Chombo 1977
* La Primerísima 1978
* Sweet Trumpet-Hot Salsa 1978
* Tommy Olivencia y su Orchestra with Paquito Guzmán & Gilberto Santa Rosa (1979)
* Un Triangulo De Triunfo (Triangle of Triumph) (1981)
* Tommy Olivencia y su Orchestra with Frankie Ruiz & Carlos Alexis 1983
* Celebrando Otro Aniversario(Celebrating Another Anniversary) (1984)
* Ayer, Hoy, Mañana y Siempre(Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow and Always) (1985)
* 30 Aniversario 1987
* El Jeque 1990
* Enamorado y Que! (I'm in Love, What about it?) 1991
* Vive La Leyenda 1998
* 40 Aniversario Live 2002

The following are considered among the top 100 greatest salsa songs:

* Casimira
* Como Lo Hacen (How they do it)
* Trucutru
* Pa'Lante Otra Vez
* Lobo Domesticado (Domestic Wolf)
* No Me Tires La Primera Piedra

Awards and recognitions
Tommy Olivencia Planté Bandera (1975)
Tommy Olivencia Planté Bandera (1975)

Among the many awards and recognitions which have been bestowed upon Olivencia are the following:

* The Puerto Rican Senate passed a resolution congratulating Olivencia and his band for their contributions to Puerto Rico's music.
* El Cordero de Oro (The Golden Lamb) and El Buho de Oro (The Golden Owl) Awards from Panama, for the best foreign band.
* The Golden Agueybana Award from Puerto Rico
* The November 11th Award from Colombia

Later years

On August 2000, Olivencia celebrated his 40th anniversary in the music industry at the Tito Puente Theater in San Juan, an event attended by many of the former members of his band. On May 15, 2004, Olivencia celebrated his 66th birthday and 45 years with the band with a live recording concert. The annual "Day of Salsa" of 2005, celebrated in Puerto Rico was dedicated to Olivencia.


He died on September 22, 2006, aged 68, from complications of diabetes, which he had battled his entire life.

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