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|Born||July 13, 1957|
Salinas, Puerto Rico
|Occupation(s)||Salsa singer, bandleader.|
|Instruments||bongos and conga|
Tony Vega (born July 13, 1957) is a Puerto Rican salsa singer and bandleader.
Vega was born in the town of Salinas, Puerto Rico where he received his primary education. He was born into a family of musicians and therefore learned how to play the bongos and conga at an early age. In 1967, when he was 10 years old, he played the conga for a kids band called "La Prefeida". His family moved to New York City in 1968. In New York, Vega continued to go to school. In his free time however, he played the conga for various local Latin rock bands including "City Trash".
Latin music was very popular in New York during the 1970s and while Vega played the conga for Latin rock bands, he started to become more and more interested in the afroantillano style of music better known as salsa. He listened to and was influenced by Ismael Rivera, Rafael Cortijo, Rafael Ithier and El Gran Combo.
Tony Vega started as a member of Orquesta La preferida from 1971 to 1973. He was the primary conga player and sang coro. One year when the school season ended his parents sent him on vacation to the states for the two months of the school recess. Upon returning to Puerto Rico and back into the band there was a replacement on the conga tacking his place. It was suggested to tony to go up front and try singing as he had done coro for the band quite well. Thus, his singing career was started. He remained with the band and recorded a 45 rpm record under the supervision of the Pijuan (melon records) a director of Pijuan y su sexteto. He also did come coro while a member of the Willie Rosario orquesta with Gilberto Santarosa on two songs recorded by the orquesta La Preferida for the late promotor Rueben Haddock. His voice can be heard on the CD "al fin contra viento y marea " by la Preferida.
In 1978, after he graduated from high school, Vega auditioned and was accepted by "La Selecta" a well known salsa band directed by Raphy Leavitt. He sang with the band and recorded "Cosquillita" (Tickle) "Sheila Taina" and "El Picaflor", which became "hits". In 1980, Vega was doing a show with La Selecta and in the audience was another salsa bandleader, Willie Rosario. Rosario was impressed with Vega and invited him to join his band. He did and participated in many recordings, and from 1981 to 1986, he shared credits with a young singer by the name of Gilberto Santa Rosa. Vega also played an essential role in the recording of "La Nueva Cosecha" (The New Harvest) which was nominated for a Grammy Award. He stayed with Rosario for eight years.
In 1986, Vega joined the Louie Ramirez band before returning to Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, he was introduced to Eddie Palmieri by his friend Giovanni Hidalgo. Palmieri recorded Vega and ended up hiring him because he liked what he heard. Vega participated in the recording of "La Verdad" (The Truth)which won a Grammy for Palmieri. He traveled with the band to Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, (Germany), Denmark, and Yugoslavia.
In 1988, Vega formed his own band and recorded "solo" for the first time. His album "Yo me Quedo" (I will stay) became a "hit'. He then followed that with the recording of the album "Lo Mio es Amor" (My thing is Love) which included the songs "Ella" (She) and an English language track "Love is Forever". This album earned him his first Gold Record Award. In 1991, Vega won a Platinum Record Award with the success of his album "Uno Mismo" (Oneself). That year he performed in Venezuela and later went to New York where in Madison Square Garden he participated in Tito Puentes 100th recording "The Mambo King".
In 1992, he was awarded La Husca Award in Panama and in Puerto Rico won the Agüeybaná de Oro Award for Best Orchestra of the Year. That same year Vega and his band performed in Spain, Chile, Colombia and the United States. He was also among a committee sent to Spain by the Government of Puerto Rico to represent the island when it was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award. He performed in the Sports Palace of Madrid.
In 1996, Vega participated with Marc Anthony in the opening ceremonies of the 7th Gymnastics World Championships celebrated in Puerto Rico.
Among his most current productions are "Si me mira a los ojos" (If you look into my eyes), "Hoy vine a Cantarte" (Today I came to sing to you), "Tropical Tribute to the Beatles" and "La Combinacion Perfecta" (The Perfect Combination).
Tony Vega continues to perform but, not as often as before. In 1996 he became a "born again Christian".
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