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Trio Vegabajeño

There were numerous trios, throughout Puerto Rico, Latin America and the United States during the golden age of the bolero. However, the Trío Vegabajeño stands apart as the most beloved and representative of Puerto Rico - an institution that touched the national nerve.

The trio was initially an informal group formed by civilian employees on a United States military base in Puerto Rico, in 1943: Benito de Jesús, Fernandito Alvarez and Octavio González. They soon were performing for radio broadcasts in Puerto Rico on the Rafael Quiñones Vidal show.

When Octavio González was drafted into the military in 1945, he was replaced by gifted singer and composer, Pepito Maduro. It was with Maduro that the group became as popular as it did for the many years it has delighted music fans. Their first recordings of songs such as “Lucerito de plata”, “El amor del jibarito”, “Fichas negras” and the classic “En mi Viejo San Juan” (lyrics), firmly established them as the premier trio at a time when trios were kings. Moreover, their style was copied by others - the most sincere flattery.

Fernandito Alvarez, was born in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico on 6 May 1914 and initially began his music career singing tangos. The leader of the group, his style and voice was one of the most distinctive among the various Latin trios. de Jesús was born on 25 October 1914 in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, and was one of the best regarded composers in the island. His compositions were known throughout Latin America, even today, as evidenced by the recent recording of his song “Nuestro Juramento” by the young Colombian artist Charlie Záa.

The legendary Felipe Rodríguez recorded his song “La Copa Rota” many years ago but was likewise recorded recently by Puerto Rican artist José Feliciano. The third member of the trio: Maduro, was born on 30 May 1908 in Humacao, Puerto Rico waqs a talented composer and was blessed with a marvelous voice. The trio and others, performed and recorded many of his compositions, such as: “Lindo querubín”, “Luto en el alma”, “Ave sin rumbo”, “Alegre amanecer”, “Triste camino” and “Cosas de ayer”.

The trio added a fourth member, the talented Jorgito Hernández who hailed from Aibonito, Puerto Rico, to play the requinto, 1952. The addition was a hit and added immensely to the the group’s legendary popularity.

Their popularity paved the way for performances throughout the island and in the United States, particularly, New York City, where there was and still remains, a large community of Puerto Ricans.