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Biography

Jose William Rodriguez De Jesus Escalante, was born in Coamo, Puerto Rico, on March 18, 1935. After school, his parents sent him to New York and according to teacher Willie Rosario (also from Coamo) after being in two or three Orchestras, in 1957 he formed his own ensemble, debuting at the Los Panchos club, then moving to the Monte Carlo on Broadway. At first his repertoire was based on themes of other groups like the Sonora Matancera, soon to begin a brief but interesting own discography like soloist.

He is hired by Carmelo Fonseca to make his first recordings on the same label that would make Richie Ray known (Fonseca Records). Even Richie, like Bobby Cruz and Chivirico Dávila, are involved in some of the albums that Rodriguez recorded since the early 1960s.

Titles like At the Happenin 'and, especially, Heat Wave, belong to that time of Fonseca. In his discography there is also a live recording titled Willie Rodriguez Swings, taken from a performance in Club Cabo Rojeño and edited by Man Records.

Before the end of the 60s, Ismael Maisonave signed him for his record label Mary Lou Records, with whom he recorded the track "Soogie", also releasing the albums '71 and Puerto Rican Kid. In this last one, the social connotation of the theme "I am Puerto Rican" is remembered a lot, in the time of The Young Lords and the Latin and black activists of the time.

It is in the early 70's when Willie decided to dissolve his orchestra, weary of the environment surrounding the Latin musical environment, and for a time was musical director of the Silver Star group.

Willie was already retired from music for many years, but had his "golden" era in the 60s, especially with his recordings for the labels Fonseca and Mary Lou, which are a good example of the "hard sound" of the burgeoning Salsa In New York. Rodríguez had among its singers Leo Casino and the great Adalberto Santiago.

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