It has been a sad weekend for many salsa and jibaro lovers.
Victor Guillermo Toro Vega Ramos Rodriguez Acosta known as Yomo Toro and “El Rey del Cuatro” died on June 30th in New York from kidney failure.
Toro was hospitalized last week after being diagnosed with cancer according to DiarioLider.com
“He began to complain that he felt bad and after several tests, they told us that he had cancer,” Minerva Toro, Yomo Toro’s wife told PrimeraHora.com
He started his career in Puerto Rico in 1953 when he went on tour with “Los 4 Aces” band throughout the Caribbean. Soon after, he decided to call New York his home and settle in the Big Apple with his wife and daughter.
The legendary 78-year-old guitarist played alongside many legends such as Francisco Aguabella, Giovanni Hidalgo, tres guitarist Nelson Gonzalez, the late vocalist Hector Lavoes and pianist Eddie Palmieri. He was part of the world-famous Fania All-Stars from the Fania Label and in 1994 became part of the Latin Legends with “El Judio Maravilloso” Larry Harlow and Aldaberto Santiago.
Cuatro was Toro’s instrument of choice. A Cuatro is an old Puerto Rican 10-string guitar-shaped instrument descended from the Spanish Vilhuela.
According to WorldMusicCentral.org, Toro, “exposed this magnificent instrument [Cuatro] to the entire world and also made it fit in on different types of venues.”
Toros career advanced in 1969 when he recorded the very influential salsa album “Tribute to Arsenio” with Harlow. Soon after in 1972, he recorded “ Asalto Navideno” a salsa and traditional Christmas music CD with Willie Colon and Lavoes. The record was one of Fania’s best-selling of all time according to the National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP).
Toro appeared in over 150 albums and over 20 solo albums in various record labels such as Island, Fania, Rounder and Green Linnet Records. He also played with ” Trio Los Pancho” in the early ’60s and recorded four albums with them, including one featuring Eydie Gormé.
The legend worked on several film tracks such as “Bananas” by director Woody Allen and “Crossover Dreams” with Ruben Blades.
He also crossed over to many other genres and recorded songs with Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, Linda Rondstadt and David Byrne.
Not only was Toro a musical legend but he also did his fair share of television. During the late 60s and early 70s he hosted a show on Channel 41 in New York called the “Yomo Toro Show” which featured entertainment news and interviews of Latin celebrities.
“It’s a big loss for the arts, the music, especially for our people,” said Martin Vargas Morales, mayor of Guanica, the town in Puerto Rico where Toro was born. “We will maintain Yomo’s musical legacy alive in this town,” he added.