Frankie Ruiz: The Rise and Demise of a Salsa Maestro

“Vuelvo A Nacer, Que Rico!!!” – Frankie Ruiz (English translation: Born Again, how wonderful!)
Frankie Ruiz: The Rise and Demise of a Salsa Maestro


Frankie Ruiz is one of Puerto Rico’s tropical artists, who unfortunately passed away too soon. Born as Jose Antonio Torresola Ruiz on March 10, 1958 in Paterson, New Jersey, he started to get involved with music at age five. As a teenager, he performed in nightclubs as a singer before catching the eye of the group, La Solucion. With them, he recorded notable tracks such as “La Rueda”,” La Vecina” and “Separemos Nuestras Vidas”. During this phase of his life, he suffered the loss of his mother in a car accident. Soon after, he went down a path of substance abuse. In 1981, he left La Solucion and joined Tommy Olivencia’s orchestra, where he contributed to some of the group’s major hits like “Como Una Estrella”, “Primero Fui Yo”, “Como Lo Hacen” and a cover of Jose Jose’s “Lo Dudo”. A few years later, in 1985, he departed from the orchestra to form his own, and between 1985 to 1988, he released several successful albums.

His inaugural solo album, “Solista… Pero No Solo (1985), marked his debut. Billboard Magazine crowned it the top Tropical/Latin Album of 1986. Hits included “Esta Cobardia”, “La Cura”, “El Camionero” and “Tu Con El”. Then came “Voy Pa’ Encima!” (1987). Hits included “Quiero Llenarte”, the title track, “Imposible Amor” and the controversial “Desnudate Mujer”. Next was “En Vivo y… a Todo Color…!” (1988), where his vocals on some of the tracks showed signs of wear due to excessive touring at the time the album debuted. Hits included “Me Acostumbre”, “La Rueda Vuelve A Rodar, Mujer” and the cult classic “Si Te Entregas A Mi”.

Disaster struck in 1989 when his drug issues escalated, leading to a three-year prison sentence following an airplane incident. During this incarceration, he released “Mas Grande Que Nunca” (1989) with hits like “Para Darte Fuego”, “Tu Eres”, “Amantes De Otro Tiempo” and “Deseandote”.

Story continues below advertisement

His time in prison served as a period of rehabilitation, allowing him to confront and overcome his personal demons. Upon his release in 1992, he resumed his musical journey, recording new music for the next three years. His prison journey, subsequent sobriety phases, and his hard work for freedom resulted in his fifth studio album, “Mi Libertad” (1992), which marked a triumphant return, becoming the best-selling album of his career with tracks like “Bailando”, “Esta Vez Sí Voy Pa’ Encima”, “Otra Vez”, and the title track. The following year, he came out with “Puerto Rico Soy Tuyo” (1993) which was a successful follow-up that demonstrated his lasting appeal amidst a wave of emerging artists. It featured hits like “Tu Me Vuelves Loco”, “Hablame”, “Puerto Rico” and “Me Faltas”. The year after that came “Mirandote” (1994) where the title track became his first number one hit on the Billboard Charts. Other hits include “Mi Formula De Amor”, “Más Allá De La Piel” and “No Dudes De Mi”. Finally, there was “Tranquilo” (1996), his final studio album in his lifetime which included “Ironia”, a track celebrated as the Best Tropical Song of 1996 by Billboard Magazine. Other hits include “Complicame”, and the title track.

 However, fate dealt another blow when a family tragedy triggered a relapse into substance abuse, leading to hospitalization for liver issues. This spiraled into a brief coma and forced intubation, which damaged his vocal cords. His health deteriorated from this point, affecting his ability to care for himself. In 1998, he recorded his last hit, “Vuelvo A Nacer”, but his frail health was a major concern. Tragically, on August 9, 1998, Frankie Ruiz succumbed to liver failure at the age of 40. His final song would be the lead single on the compilation album “Nacimiento Y Recuerdos” (1998), which was originally going to be a studio album, however with his health on a rapid decline at this point, he was unable to continue recording the album. As a result, production of the album was shut down altogether. After his death, the album was released with the new song alongside a collection of his biggest hits from his whole solo career. The album would eventually become a commercial success.

Challenges marred his life and led to an untimely demise, but the legacy of Frankie Ruiz lives on. His music continues to resonate with fans, and his contributions to the salsa genre remain invaluable, a testimony to his enduring legacy even in the face of adversity.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Comments are subject to review for slurs and offensive language. Comments will not be edited except to modify profanity.
All NEIU Independent Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content