El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico - El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico

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First albums

On November 20, 1963, El Gran Combo released their first group album, Acángana, with Rodríguez and Montañez as lead singers. The album became a number one hit in New York, Panama and Puerto Rico. Their success opened doors for them in many Latin American markets and they gained an exclusivity spot on the Puerto Rican television show El Show de las 12. The album also reached gold status.

On 1964, trumpet player and arranger Elías Lopes joined the orchestra, coinciding with the group's first popularity wave. With their daily TV appearances and extensive touring, however, demand for the group declined due to overexposure. Still, in 1967, their album Boogaloo con el Gran Combo also reached gold status. In 1969, Roena and Lopes left the orchestra to form the Apollo Sound together. Despite all this, that same year the group was awarded an Agüeybana de Oro in Puerto Rico.

Near death experience

On February 15, 1970, the members of El Gran Combo shared a near death experience. They were returning to Puerto Rico from Curaçao, and had to stop at Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo. One of the band's members had a bad premonition about the flight they were about to embark on, and the orchestra decided not to take that flight, which would turn out to be the Dominicana Airlines DC-9 that crashed off the Caribbean coast.[citation needed]

The 1970s

In 1970, their contract with Gema Records wasn't renewed. Despite offers from the renowned Motown label, El Gran Combo decided to produce their own albums, under the label "Combo Records". Their first album under their label, EGC, is titled Estamos Primeros.

In 1971, El Gran Combo introduced the trombone to their instrument mix. The trombone was played by Fanny Ceballos. Soon after, their production named De Punta a Punta (slang for "From Coast to Coast") was released. After recording that album Pellín Rodriguez left the group to embark on a solo career. Rodríguez was replaced by Charlie Aponte at the recommendation of Jerry Concepción and the well known sportscaster Rafael Bracero, both friends of Ithier.

In 1973, El Gran Combo sang in front of 50,000 fans at the famous Yankee Stadium in New York City as the opening act for the Fania All-Stars' sold out concert.

Montañez left the band in early 1977 and went to live in Venezuela, where he received a good contract to replace Oscar D'León in another orchestra, Dimension Latina. Jerry Rivas was then chosen to join the orchestra. Both Rivas and Aponte are still members of the orchestra to this day. The success of this new duo was proved with their 1977 album International and 1978's En Las Vegas which reached gold record status.

In 1975, El Gran Combo en Navidad, a Christmas album, was released, with Martín Quiñones appearing as Santa Claus in the album's cover. After an automobile accident in early 1977, Quiñones was replaced in the band by his son, Martín Quiñones Jr. He stayed until 1979, being replaced by Luis Díaz.