He loved to sing as a youth, imitating Gardel but his music interests flowered when his father gave him a guitar as a gift. By the age of 14, he joined a band called Conjunto Maravilla. He later joined a group of university students as a singer and guitarist in a band that played at the King Club in San Juan’s marina.
He soon got a break to join another band that played at the China Doll club in Santurce. The club was a much better venue; respected by music lovers, and represented a big step up for Gilberto. He was only 15 years old when his contract there ended, prompting him to move to Mayagüez, Puerto Rico to play in the orchestra of William Manzano on the WPRA radio station. He stayed on for six months until Rafael Elvira’s Super Orquesta Tropicana needed a singer and contracted Gilberto.
The Super Orquesta Tropicana was another giant step for Gilberto’s professional career. He traveled throughout the island enjoying steady work playing at special events and dances. The band went on to play regularly at the Hotel Condado but slowly disbanded until only a quintet was left with Gilberto as lead singer. Shortly thereafter, he received an invitation to sing with the orchestra of Pete Rivera at the inauguration of the Caribe Hilton Hotel in 1948.
After some time at the Caribe Hilton, Gilberto moved on to New York City where he was offered to sing with the orchestra of Armando Castro in the prestigeous dance hall: Escambrón Beach Club. He soon began singing in other New York venues, quickly gaining fans and recognition within the latin music community. He even had the opportunity to sing at hotels in the Domican Republic and Curacao during that time.
In 1951 he joined the orchestra of José Curbelo months later he returned to New York where the legendary “king of the timbales”, Tito Puente was looking for a singer in his orchestra to substitute for Cuban bolero and guaracha singer, Vicentico Valdés and offered Gilberto the job. He sang for that orchestra at the Palldium, Birdland and the Apollo Theater. Gilberto sang for two years with Puente and cut many 78 RPM records. While it was a very successful experience, Gilberto left Puente’s band in 1955 to escape the frequent traveling, and returned to Puerto Rico to pursue a career as a soloist.
The quality of his romantic voice brought him great success on his return to Puerto Rico. He recorded more than 40 singles and 30 LP albums, including one of songs by Pedro Flores and another of Rafael Hernández. He won gold record in 1959 for his rendition of Moisés Zoaín’s song “Egoismo”, and another in 1964 for “Simplemente una ilusión” composed by Héctor Urdaneta. He was well known in many United States’ cities and Latin American countries, despite his dislike of travel.
Gilberto died on 3 May 1996, in Santurce, Puerto Rico.
Saludo Cariño (2000)
Homenaje Postumo (1999)
Siempre Romantico (1995)
Concierto de Amor (1995)
Hechos No Palabras (1994)
Lo Mejor de Gilberto Monroig (1993)
La Musica de Pedro Flores (1993)
15 Exitos (1992)
Con Guitarra (1990)
La Musica de Rafael Hernandez (----)
Interpreta los Exitos de Rafael Hernandez y Pedro Flores (----)