― J Blount, Monday, 20 May 2002 00:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
― Spencer Chow, Monday, 20 May 2002 00:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
― michael, Monday, 20 May 2002 00:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
― DeRayMi, Monday, 20 May 2002 00:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
Well, here's a url. No time to fumble with simple html.
― Rockist Scientist, Monday, 19 May 2003 04:54 (10 years ago) Permalink
― joan vich (joan vich), Monday, 19 May 2003 09:36 (10 years ago) Permalink
― Dave Stelfox (Dave Stelfox), Monday, 19 May 2003 11:14 (10 years ago) Permalink
― joan vich (joan vich), Monday, 19 May 2003 16:01 (10 years ago) Permalink
― Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 14 June 2003 18:41 (9 years ago) Permalink
Joe Bataan's ready for second act in lifeBy AL HUNTER JR.
Joe Bataan's at the movies, shoveling down popcorn, a couple of franks, gulping soda, enjoying "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones."
Afterward, while backing his car out of the theater parking lot, he starts feeling strange. Blood trickles from his mouth, his body jerks with convulsions.
"I should've been gone," Bataan said, recalling that day in May 2002. "They were about to give me last rites."
Joe Bataan, 60, the "Ordinary Guy," who pioneered the Latin/soul movement in the late '60s and early '70s, would later learn he had gone into diabetic shock, which can be fatal.
The frightening episode, which led to four days in the hospital, became his "aha" moment.
"God has a mission for me," said Bataan, who didn't know he had diabetes, though the symptoms of constant fatigue and thirst were there. "It was like I was drowning, and the hand came down, picked me out and said, 'I'm not through with you.' "
Bataan carries out part of his mission with a concert in Philadelphia on Father's Day, but it's more likely his real mission started in the late 1960s.
Born to an African-American mother and Filipino father in 1942, Bataan (given name Peter Nitollano) was raised in Spanish Harlem, where as a teenager, he rolled with Puerto Rican gangs, got a rep as a tough fighter and soaked in Latin music along with that of Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers, the Chantels, the Harptones and Fats Domino.
Bataan was busted for riding in a stolen car and spent five years in New York's Coxsackie State Prison. While there, he learned music, and "six months after I was released, I started making records," Bataan said during a telephone interview from his home in Mount Vernon, N.Y. "I knew exactly what I wanted to do as far as music was concerned. That stint in prison made me determined."
But what got Bataan his notoriety was his vision of merging Latin and R&B music to create "Latin soul."
A keyboardist and vocalist, Bataan had his first hit in 1967 with "Gypsy Woman." He found an audience eager for the exotic rhythms of salsa paired with the familiar comfort of English lyrics.
"He's the best that did it at that time," said Manuel Duprey of Funk-O-Mart record store at 11th and Market streets. "Instead of straight-up salsa, it was crossover."
Bataan had other hits, too: "Subway Joe," "Riot," "Ordinary Guy," "What Good is a Castle," as well as Gil Scott-Heron's "The Bottle" and Isaac Hayes' "Shaft."
"Here I was a youngster," Bataan said. Audiences "identified with me because I was from a street gang." And the songs' subject matter "connected to my lifetime."
Latin soul, described by the AMG All-Music Guide as "a blend of mambo and pop tinged with R&B and Latin jazz, emphasizing short, ultra-catchy tunes and infectious rhythms," became popular in the late '60s as young New Yorkers of Puerto Rican heritage - sometimes called Nuyoricans - were exposed to rock 'n' roll and soul music and, unlike their parents, grew up speaking English.
"The Puerto Rican became much more Americanized," during that time, Bataan said. Latin music grew to reflect that, especially with black bands and Latin bands sharing the stage at the same clubs.
Preceding the Latin soul fad was "boogaloo" music - similar to Latin soul but with less lyrical structure and more novelty. One example: Joe Cuba's "Bang Bang."
Latin soul's practitioners included Willie Colon and the TnT Band. The genre is recalled with great fondness, though "it came and went fast," Duprey said.
While he enjoyed success - he was called the "King of Latin R&B" - Bataan also was criticized.
"There were a lot of people who, I don't if they were envious, heard I was not of Puerto Rican descent," Bataan recalled. "They didn't feel that a lot of the typical sound I did in Latin was true salsa because of the English lyrics."
After the trend died, Bataan helped found Salsoul Records (with the Salsoul Orchestra, Double Exposure and Bunny Sigler) and had another hit in the late '70s with the disco/rap record "Rap-O Clap-O."
Recently, Bataan has seen a resurgence of interest in him and his early music. Some people thought he was dead. He recalled traveling to Columbia, where he hadn't been in 30 years and where he had to fulfill a strange request.
" 'Riot' was like a national anthem in Columbia," Bataan said. "When I got off the plane, they made me sing the song to make sure I was the real Joe Bataan."
He has seen children with tatoos of his song titles. In the mid-'90s, students at Hotos Community College in the Bronx couldn't get enough of him. One girl said, "I love your music. When can I get it and where did you come from?"
Bataan's old vinyl recordings are in demand, too, as DJs use them in house music mixes. An anthology of his songs has been released in Japan, Bataan said, and some of his original recordings on the Fania label can be found on CDs.
For Bataan, who is a tour commander at the Bridges Juvenile Center in New York, the past fuels his popularity. He takes a drug to control his diabetes. He's changed his diet, tries to swim every day. In his car, he keeps the blood-stained shirt as a reminder of what happened last May.
"God said 'Stop running, I have something for you to do,' " Bataan said. "He hasn't exactly pointed out [what], but he wants me to spread his name."
Along with a little Latin soul
― Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 19 June 2003 23:49 (9 years ago) Permalink
I missed this before. This must have been reported from Philadelphia. (Maybe I can't read after all.)
― Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 24 April 2004 17:58 (9 years ago) Permalink
― deej, Friday, 9 November 2007 20:12 (5 years ago) Permalink
Four of his Fania CDs have been reissued, and at a good price, through Fontana. There are tons of revived Fania titles available.
― ellaguru, Friday, 9 November 2007 20:14 (5 years ago) Permalink
rap o clap o is alright but i prefer his songs from that era without rapping
― deej, Friday, 9 November 2007 20:15 (5 years ago) Permalink
his comeback LP of 2005, Call My Name, is really good and should have gotten at least as much love as the recent Sharon Jones records...(all of these have the Dap-Tone imprint all over them)...
― henry s, Friday, 9 November 2007 20:23 (5 years ago) Permalink
Thanks for the rec
― BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Friday, 9 November 2007 21:26 (5 years ago) Permalink
"subway joe" (the song and LP) is amazing
― figuratively, but in a very real way (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 November 2009 18:34 (3 years ago) Permalink
Just heard his version of "Gypsy Woman" on the radio over the weekend. Very nice
― curmudgeon, Thursday, 11 October 2012 19:56 (7 months ago) Permalink
"Ling Ching Tong(all I wanted was an egg foo yung)" has funny,goofy lyrics or offensive ones depending on your point of view
― curmudgeon, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:43 (7 months ago) Permalink
Been listening to his stuff on Spotify, and am hoping to go see him and his 10-piece band play for free Friday night in W. DC at the Smithsonian Nat. History Museum Baird Auditorium
― curmudgeon, Thursday, 18 October 2012 20:51 (7 months ago) Permalink
He was a lot of fun. An hour only limited show after a pnel discussion with Bataan and some folks who were activists in the 60s plus a historian. Some might grumble that Bataan's voice now is not what it was on records in the late '60s but it was cool to see him doing his soulman choreographed dance steps and interact with the band and the audience. Some folks were there holding their vinyl albums, eager to get them autographed, and were busy chatting beforehand about their memories of growing up with the songs. The band was tight and powerful
― curmudgeon, Monday, 22 October 2012 14:47 (7 months ago) Permalink