D’Leon, Oscar

Translated by: Nelson Lee Afanador

The great Oscar Emilio Leon Dionisia was born in the town of Antimano de Caracas, on July 11, 1943, to Justo Leon and Carmen Dionisia. From a young age he showed an interest in music and credits the legendary Benny More, and the great orchestras of the day, including the Sonora Matancera as having had a great influence on him. During his adolescent years you could find him together with his friends celebrating and putting on parties together, on the corners of his hometown. But not all was fun and games, and for this reason Oscar became a topographer.

At 20 years of age he begins to work for General Motors to help meet his family’s needs. But later decides to leave his job and realize his dream of becoming a musician, and so he purchased some instruments and formed his first orchestra.

Oscar first started the “Golden Star” orchestra, but didn’t have much success. He then formed the “Psicodelicos”, but once again Oscar didn’t have the transcendence he was looking for. It was in 1972 when he joined up with Enrique “Culebra” Iriarte, Cesar “Albondiga” Monge, Jose Rojas ("Rojita"), Jose “Cheo” Rodriguez, y Elio Pacheco, “Dimension Latina” is formed and debuts in the local “La Distincion” in Venezuela.

In was with this orchestra that Oscar, along with the incorporation of Wladimir Lozano, truly begins his musical career, succeeding in recording some major hits, including songs like “Lloraras o Taboga.” The “Dimension Latina” became one of the most recognized and important orchestras in the Caribbean, eventually succeeding in reaching the North American market. With his charisma, his “sonero” ability, dancing and singing abilities, Oscar became the showman of the “Dimension Latina”. Even while playing bass these talents were not lost on the public, and he became known as “El Bajo Danzante”, the Dancing Bass.

It is important to note the Oscar’s musical talent (and subsequent maturation as a musician) is as a result of being completely self-taught, since he never had the opportunity of attending any type of music school. Providence blessed him with an exceptional ear for music especially for orchestral arrangements.

The internal strife that began to plague the group caused the exit of Oscar from the band. It was then that Oscar began his solo career, creating “Salsa Mayor”, and later, “La Critica”, with which he consolidated his title as one of the major “soneros” of his time, with such hits as “Se Necesita Rumbero”, “Monta mi Caballo”, “A el” - this last one being a tribute to his father, among others. His success in salsa continued to reach new heights with “Oscar D’Leon y su Orquesta” as he became and international phenomenon. Countries which he never dreamt of visiting, received him with honors. From Japan to Helsinki, from Montreal to Bueno Aires, and year after year he becomes a pilgrim of Latin music, later being dubbed the “Sonero del Mundo.”

It was during the early nineties that he signs with RMM Records, and begins to record with the great Latin artists of the day; including Celia Cruz in the “Combinacion Pefecta”, the king of the timbal, Tito Puente, in his 100th album, with Jose Alberto “El Canario", and la India.

In 1996 he releases with RMM Records the album El Rey de los Soneros produced by the Cuban-American Willie Chirino, which was eventually nominated for a Grammy in 1997. In 1999 he completed his last recording for RMM titled La Forma Original.

In the year 2000, Oscar launches himself into a new commercial adventure by starting his own record label, Bass Records. In his first release, the CD Doble Play, he reunites with his old friend from “La Dimension Latina” and “La Salsa Mayor”, Wladimir Lozano.

During his career Oscar recorded numerous hits, many of which went Gold, received several nominations and awards, and has earned a place among the greatest “soneros” in the world. During his 30 years of artistic life he has recorded more than 60 albums.

At 61 years of age, Oscar D’Leon continues to be a “sonero” among “soneros”, a great artist among great artists, and one of the brightest stars in the world of Latin music.


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