Bobby Valentin is a musician who truly came up through the ranks. Similar to other great salsa bandleaders, Bobby was born in Puerto Rico; on the ninth of June 1941. To this day, 81 years later, Bobby is still achieving goals. “El Rey Del Bajo” (The King of the Bass) has released over 35 albums in a career that saw him become a vital part of the world-renowned Fania All Stars orchestra as bassist and musical arranger and has appeared in concerts all over the world. He was born in the small town of Orocovis, Puerto Rico. His father, an accomplished guitarist, taught Bobby the ins and outs of the guitar as Bobby grew into the world of Latin music as an accomplished guitarist. Years later, while attending high school in Puerto Rico he took up the trumpet. In 1956, his family moved to New York where he continued his studies while attending George Washington High School. A couple years later he joined the Joe Quijano orchestra where he perfected his trade before being snatched up by Willie Rosario to play bass for his band. He stayed with Rosario’s orchestra while he searched for the right fit with a band as good as the ones, he became accustomed to. Along the way he had stints with the well-regarded bands of Charlie Palmieri and Ray Barretto. Eventually, he formed his own band and in 1967 recorded his first album Young Man With a Horn for Fania Records. Intriguingly, one night in 1969 Bobby’s bass player failed to show up for a gig. Any band member will tell you how devastating it would be to lose a bass player. So, Bobby found a replacement on trumpet and grabbed a hold of the bass and has never let go.
His top selling album was released in 1972 titled Soy Boricua. The album has become Puerto Rico’s unofficial anthem and he is considered one of the island’s most admired bandleaders. In 1975, Bobby made a deal with Fania to distribute his label, Bronco, internationally. His recordings continued to sell extensively throughout Latin America, aided by the introduction of vocalist Marvin Santiago to his band. Over several decades, Valentin was credited with establishing the careers of vocalists Johnny Vazquez, Cano Estremera, Rafu Warner, Tato Pena, Giovanni Lugo, Marina and Juan Jose Hernandez. Bobby released his 35th anniversary album in 2003, featuring musical arranger Louie Ramirez and vocalist Ray De La Paz. Presently, he is running his company and making appearances with his band to the delight of his enormous fanbase which spreads across Latin America and many countries of the world. —Bobby Marin