One week away from celebrating the 38th edition of the National Zalsa Daythe musical genre that established itself as a commercial success for Puerto Rican musicians in the 1960s, lost one of its own again. The pianist and director of The Great Combo of Puerto RicoWillie Sotelo has died of cancer at the age of 61.
Incredulous and supportive, Puerto Rican music and entertainment personalities went to their social networks to send messages of solidarity and strength to the family and friends of the native of Mayagüez, who joined the legendary orchestra in 2006. For three years now, several salsa stars have departed from the earthly plane. Robert Roena, Cano Estremera, Tito Rojas, Johnny Ventura Y Johnny Vazquez are some of them.
One of the first to react was the “sonero of youth”, Victor Manuelle. The interpreter of “Dile a Ella” commented that he will always remember Sotelo for his music and professionalism.
On behalf of myself and the boys of the orchestra, I join in the great sorrow and pain of the Sotelo family and the boys of El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. Today the salsa family is in mourning. We will remember you for your music and professionalism. May your piano keep playing in heaven,” he wrote.
The Dominican presenter, Alexandra Malagonwife of “the gentleman of salsa”, Gilberto Santa Rosa, likewise, expressed sadness at the unexpected death of the musical director.
“What sad news. Latin music and salsa are in mourning. The pianist and director of El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, maestro Willie Sotelo, has passed away, my deepest condolences to all his family and friends. My condolences to the members of the University of Salsa”, said Malagón.
The politician and salsa singer, Andres Waldemar Volmar, thanked Sotelo for inspiring. He also sympathized with his colleagues.
“Peace and consolation to the boys of El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Don Rafael Ithier and the family of Willie Sotelo in life. Thank you for inspiring, teacher. For all your years of fidelity to El Apollo Sound and Roberto Roena. Our respect always. Lots of light…” he shared.
The famous speakers Marcos Rodriguez “El Cacique” Y Nestor Galan “The Crazy Owl”of Z93 FMshared words of gratitude and admiration, after many years of friendship and collaboration.
“Very sad for the departure of this great friend, musician, arranger, composer, director and producer. The much loved and admired Willie Sotelo. This photo was last January 2022 when I interviewed him on
‘Golden Musicians’. Everything was joy, I was very excited and he was very grateful. We will miss you, may you rest in peace. Our deepest condolences to his family, to El Gran Combo and to all his admirers. I’m very sorry,” said Galan.
“We met him in many facets of his life. (…) It has been a very hard blow to think that you talk to a person now and that’s it, tomorrow they are gone. Or in minutes stop being with us. It has been a strong blow on this day, may Wilie Sotelo rest in peace,” said Rodríguez, for his part, on the radio.
Linda Bell Viera Caballero, better known as Indiareacted with a story on his Instagram account.
the same way he did Gerard Riverason of Jerry, member of El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico.