El Leon de la Salsa! Living salsa legend from Venezuela still going strong!
Three times Grammy Winner OSCAR D’LEON from Venezuela is one of the world’s leading latin artist for over 40 years now.
Born in Caracas in 1943 as Oscar Emilio Leon, his great loves from childhood onwards were baseball and music. Oscar spent his youth imitating the most famous groups of the time and their songs, especially the Cuban’s Benny Moré, Sonora Matancera and Trio Matamoros.
Later, as a taxi and bus driver, he entertained his passengers with songs. That was how he met the percussionist José Rodriguez on one of these tours and thus came to join the group ‛El Clan de Victor’. By this time he was already performing under the stage name Oscar D’Leon.
A traffic accident forced him to give up his job as a driver. From this point onwards Oscar concentrated entirely on music and earned his living as a member of ‛La Distincion’. When the singer dropped out shortly before a concert, Oscar, who had only played the double bass and performed as a background voice, took over the lead singer’s part – with great success. He then founded ‛La Dimension Latina’ and landed his first hit in 1972 with ‛Pensando en ti’. Three years later the group was in the studio and needed just one more song to complete an LP. Oscar proposed to arrange his piece ‛Llorarás’ on the spot immediately. Musically speaking Oscar was self-taught, and his composition became an instant worldwide hit. The band and their extremely charismatic leader began a successful tour of the whole of America. Oscar won over his audience with the improvised talent of a Cuban Sonero, the power of an insistent bass player and the irresistible swinging hips of a dynamic dancer.
After internal disputes Oscar established his first orchestra on his own: ‛Oscar D’Leon y su Salsa Mayor’. However, before long he was forced to give up the band and he then attempted a new comeback, this time finally as ‛Oscar D’Leon y su Orquesta’. After a few successful years he was compelled to leave Venezuela in 1982 for tax reasons. Thereupon Oscar agreed to a tour of Cuba. Although originally only a few concerts were planned there, he ended up staying for several months. He was subjected to a good deal of criticism, especially from the United States. Time proved that Oscar’s affinity with Cuba was purely a musical one. His creed to this day is: I owe everything musical and all my musical achievements to date solely to the music of Cuba. Accordingly, Oscar is also known as the ‛Sonero del Mundo’ – the most Cuban of all non-Cuban singers.
Since then Oscar D’Leon has played an essential part in the international salsa scene. He has worked together with all the great Latin musicians, including: Tito Puente, Cheo Feliciano, Celia Cruz, Jose Alberto ‛El Canario’ and Sergio Vargas, to name but a few. Almost 30 albums have been released; he has toured over 100 countries on all continents and performed before sold-out audiences in the most famous venues in the world, such as Madison Square Garden in New York.