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Hector Lavoe

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Hector Lavoe

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Hector Lavoe


He started out as a skinny 17-year-old from Puerto Rico on the streets of New York, hungry and ready to sing. He ended both a celebrity and a broken man, wasted by a long struggle with drug abuse, personal tragedies and AIDS. Born Hector Juan Perez in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1946, Lavoe pursued singing as a kid, gigging with a 10-piece band by the time he was 14 years old. Against his father's wishes, he moved to New York, where he met Johnny Pacheco of Fania Records. Pacheco introduced Lavoe to Willie Colon, and the two recorded more than 10 groundbreaking albums over eight years. Lavoe's erratic behavior and drug use forced Colon to dissolve the band in 1974, but Lavoe continued recording and packing stadiums in Latin America for the next decade. But he wasn't able to kick his heroin habit and he contracted HIV as a result, and in 1987 his 17-year-old son, Hector Jr., was accidentally killed. Five years after a suicide attempt, Lavoe succumbed to AIDS in 1993. The public outpouring of grief was vast: Lavoe's voice had been as fine as a reed pen, and his knack for phrasing incomparable. He has been called a "singer's singer," but he was also known for his kindness and wit.
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