Rafael Viera, Pioneering Salsa Promoter, Record Store Owner Dies at 90

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In a transferring social media publish, RubĂ©n Blades recollects assembly his “good friend and mentor” who led him on a two-week journey across the island to advertise Siembra.

In a transferring social media publish, salsa icon RubĂ©n Blades recalled Don Rafael Viera, the “good friend and mentor" who led him on a two-week journey across the island within the late 1970s to advertise Siembra, the album during which “the folks at Fania had little religion.”

Viera, document retailer proprietor and the promoter largely liable for the success of New York salsa in Puerto Rico – and by extension, internationally, died on Jan. 13 at a reported 90 years-old. His demise was publically introduced by his son, musicologist Richie Viera.

“They put me within the fingers of a gentleman who they launched as somebody who had one of the best contacts with one of the best DJs on the island,” Blades wrote of his first promotional journey to Puerto Rico to push what would turn out to be the best-selling salsa document of all time (Willie ColĂłn, his collaborator on the album, didn't make the journey.). “His title was Rafael Viera.”

Rafael Viera was the proprietor of Viera Discos, often known as La Casa de Coleccionista, typically known as “the cathedral of Latin Music,” which for over 60 years was housed in a former church in San Juan. The retailer had a list of roughly 180,000 recordings when its closed its doorways in San Juan in 2016.

He labored as a promoter in Puerto Rico for Fania and different New York Latin labels, together with Tico and Alegre. In 1973, Viera was the promoter of the primary Fania All Stars live performance in Puerto Rico. That legendary present inaugurated the Roberto Clemente Stadium in San Juan.

“I requested Rafael what number of stations there have been in Puerto Rico at the moment,” Blades recalled, in Spanish, in his fond remembrance of his first encounter with Viera in 1978, one which captures the grass roots spirit of the time. “He requested me on what a part of the island I used to be referring to. I advised him, ‘ALL of Puerto Rico, Rafael.’ He stared at me, amused, and stated there have been quite a bit. I stated, ‘properly, let’s go to all of them, even probably the most distant ones, those that even he didn’t go to with artists. He advised that may take a while. I answered, ‘time is what we’ve acquired loads of now, Rafael.’ And for 2 weeks we went throughout Puerto Rico, from the East to the West, north to South and we reached stations that had dust flooring or blocks of cement that hadn’t been painted and by no means can be. We slept within the automotive, or wherever we discovered house, and I’ll always remember the face of the DJs after we walked into their studio. “No one ever comes right here,” lots of them stated, and so they made us really feel like household, professionals and appreciated.”

Viera labored with a protracted checklist of Latin artists who would turn out to be family names, together with Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz, Larry Harlow and others on the Fania roster, and lots of extra.

“Thank you to your help, your affection, since you all the time believed in me, in our work, in our particular person, in our music,” Blades wrote.

Viera is being honored at the moment (Jan. 14) with funeral companies open to the general public on the Frankie Memorial funeral house in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.